The Most Damaging Argument For A Relationship — Top Divorce Predictor

Arguing about this damaging subject predicts divorce, research finds.

Arguing about this damaging subject predicts divorce, research finds.

Arguments about money are the top predictor of divorce, research finds.

While arguing about money, couples use the harshest language and the arguments are also more intense and last longer.

Money arguments also take longer than any other to recover from.

Naturally, then, the more arguments about money couples have, the lower their satisfaction with the relationship.

Dr Sonya Britt-Lutter, study co-author, said:

“Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce.

It’s not children, in-laws or anything else.

It’s money — for both men and women.”

The conclusions come from a nationally representative survey of over 4,500 couples.

Dr Britt-Lutter explained the results:

“In the study, we controlled for income, debt and net worth.

Results revealed it didn’t matter how much you made or how much you were worth.

Arguments about money are the top predictor for divorce because it happens at all levels.”

The researchers found that arguments from the very start of the relationship about money were a particularly bad sign.

Dr Britt-Lutter said:

“You can measure people’s money arguments when they are very first married.

It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, but when they were first together and already arguing about money, there is a good chance they are going to have poor relationship satisfaction.”

People who are stressed about money tend to avoid the issue, which makes matters worse.

Dr Britt-Lutter said:

“…people who are stressed are very short-term focused.

They don’t plan for the future.

If you can reduce stress, you can increase planning.”

If the money is not being treated fairly in the household, then the relationship satisfaction is going to be lower.”

The study was published in the journal Family Relations (Dew et al., 2012).

The Silent Relationship Killer Lurking In Your Pocket

This could be damaging romantic relationships and leading to depression.

This could be damaging romantic relationships and leading to depression.

Over 70 percent of married couples report that mobile phones frequently interfere with their relationship, psychological research concludes.

The divided attention they create can easily lead to relationship conflict.



Here are some common examples of irritating behaviour:

  • My partner places his or her phone where they can see it when we are together.
  • My partner keeps his or her phone in their hand when he or she is with me.
  • My partner glances at his/her phone when talking to me.

Professor David Sbarra, who has reviewed the research, said:

“When you are distracted into or by the device, then your attention is divided, and being responsive to our partners — an essential ingredient for building intimacy — requires attention in the here and now.”

However, phones can be very difficult to resist because of the way our brains work.

Professor Sbarra explained:

“The draw or pull of a smartphone is connected to very old modules in the brain that were critical to our survival, and central to the ways we connect with others are self-disclosure and responsiveness.

Evolution shaped self-disclosure and responsiveness in the context of small kin networks, and we now see these behaviors being cued more or less constantly by social networking sites and through our phones.

We now have the outer-most edges of our social network cue us for responsiveness.

Look no further than the next person you see scrolling through Facebook and mindlessly hitting the ‘like’ button while his kid is trying to tell him a story.”

However, technology is not necessarily good or bad in itself, said Professor Sbarra:

“We stay away from the question of whether social networking sites and smartphone use are good or bad, per se.

Technology is everywhere, and it’s not going away, nor should it.

Humans are still trying to cope with a huge social change, said Professor Sbarra:

“Between 2000 and 2018, we’ve seen the largest technological advances, arguably, at any point in the last 100 years.

We are interested in understanding the role of social relationships in human well-being.

We can understand this from the level of what individuals do in relationships, but we can also understand it at the level of societal changes and societal forces that may push on relationships.”

Related

The study was published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science (Sbarra et al., 2019).

Flirting: The Most Effective Facial Expression That Even Men Can Spot

When women use this expression, men are able to recognise it and tell it apart from ordinary polite smiling or a neutral expression.

When women use this expression, men are able to recognise it and tell it apart from ordinary polite smiling or a neutral expression.

The most effective expression for flirting involves the head turned to one side and tilted downwards a little, a slight smile and eye contact.

When women use this expression, men are able to recognise it and tell it apart from ordinary polite smiling or a neutral expression.

The expression automatically makes men think about relationships and sex, researchers found.

In general, men can be quite poor at reading facial expressions.

They typically over-interpret polite smiling to express romantic interest, which can lead to misunderstandings.

The conclusion comes from a study of the most effective expressions for flirting.

Professor Omri Gillath, study co-author, said:

“There are very few scientific articles out there that have systematically studied this well-known phenomenon.

None of these studies have identified the flirting facial expression and tested its effects.”

The researchers carried out a series of six studies, Professor Gillath explained:

“Across our six studies, we found most men were able to recognize a certain female facial expression as representing flirting.

It has a unique morphology, and it’s different from expressions that have similar features — for example, smiling — but aren’t identified by men as flirting expression.”

For the study, women — some of whom were professional actresses — were asked to pose flirting expressions.

One expression emerged as being almost universally recognised by men as a flirting sign:

  • Head tilted down and held on one side,
  • eyes turned towards the man,
  • and a slight smile.

Compared to happy or neutral facial expressions, men subsequently had sex on the mind after seeing this expression.

Professor Gillath said:

“Our findings support the role of flirtatious expression in communication and mating initiation.

For the first time, not only were we able to isolate and identify the expressions that represent flirting, but we were also able to reveal their function — to activate associations related with relationships and sex.”

The study was published in The Journal of Sex Research (Haj-Mohamadi et al., 2020).

The Personality Trait Linked To Infidelity

Infidelity is linked to low self-esteem, distress and divorce.

Infidelity is linked to low self-esteem, distress and divorce.

People high on the personality trait of ‘sexual narcissism’ are more likely to cheat on their partner, research finds.

Narcissists of this type are not just full of themselves in general, but full of themselves in the bedroom.

They are people who will do whatever it takes to sleep with whoever they like, as they feel they deserve it.

This sense of entitlement is one of the strongest signs of cheating behaviour.

They also tend to have an over-inflated idea of their skills in the bedroom.

However, they have little interest in what their partner wants and do not mind exploiting others.

The conclusions come from a study of 123 newlyweds who were tracked for between one and four years.

They were asked about their satisfaction with the relationship, narcissism and whether they had cheated on their partner.

The authors describe narcissism as…

“…a multifaceted personality style characterized by tendencies toward exploiting others, a general lack of empathy for others, and a pervasive confidence in one’s abilities”

The results revealed that 5% of couples experienced extramarital affairs in this period — half of the cheaters were husbands, half were wives.

Factors that predicted cheating, along with this type of narcissism, were low relationship satisfaction and the overall amount of narcissism of the couple together.

The authors confirm the damaging consequences of infidelity for a relationship:

“…infidelity can have serious negative consequences for those involved.

Not only is infidelity associated with decreased relationship satisfaction in both partners, it is has been identified as one of the most common predictors of divorce.

Further, those who commit infidelity and their partners also frequently experience negative intrapersonal outcomes, such as decreased self-esteem and increased psychological distress.”

The study was published in the journal ASB (McNulty & Widman, 2014).

Does Forgiving Really Lead To Forgetting? (M)

Could forgiving someone actually help you forget the pain they caused?

Could forgiving someone actually help you forget the pain they caused?

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Science Says Look for This Personality Trait in Your Partner

This personality trait was linked to less marital conflict.

This personality trait was linked to less marital conflict.

Positivity is one of the best personality traits for a partner, research finds.

Women who have positive partners report less marital conflict.

Other personality factors are also linked to a better relationship:

  • Women fought less with introverted men.
  • Women had less conflict with men who had stable emotions.

Marital conflict included things like criticism, too many demands or just getting on the other person’s nerves.

Along with personality factors, health was also important.

Women had less marital conflict if their partner was in good health.

Dr James Iveniuk, the study’s first author, said:

“Wives report more conflict if their husband is in poor health.

If the wife is in poor health, there doesn’t seem to be any difference in terms of the quality of the marriage for the husband.”

The conclusions come from a study of 953 hetersexual couples who had been together for an average of 39 years.

The results showed that the personality and health of the man was linked to marital conflict.

However, the woman’s personality and health made little difference in this regard, said Dr Iveniuk:

“Wives whose husbands show higher levels of positivity reported less conflict.

However, the wives’ positivity had no association with their husbands’ reports of conflict.”

Professor Linda J. Waite, study co-author, said:

“Several previous studies have been about the implications of marital status on health.

This research allows us to examine individual marriages and not ‘married people.’

We have the reports on the quality of the marriage from each person, about their own personality and their own health.”

The study was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family (Iveniuk et al., 2014).

60% Believe In This Damaging Fantasy About How Relationships Work (M)

Happiness is made, not found: but almost two-thirds believe in a backwards conception of relationship development.

Happiness is made, not found: but almost two-thirds believe in a backwards conception of relationship development.

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7 Psychology Studies On Love’s Strange Secrets

Uncover love’s strange secrets with these seven illuminating psychology studies on relationships.

Uncover love’s strange secrets with these seven illuminating psychology studies on relationships.

These seven psychology studies explore how we navigate love, loss and connection.

They shed light on how our gender can influence our priorities, how we recover from heartbreak and the subtle dynamics that shape long-term partnerships.

They also explore the impact of bullying on teenagers and the power of self-compassion in romantic relationships.

These studies are all from the members-only section of PsyBlog — if you are not already, find out how to become a PsyBlog member here.

1.

What Men And Women Really Get Jealous About (M)

Are you misinterpreting your partner’s jealousy triggers?

2.

This Is How Long It Takes To Recover From Divorce And Breakups (M)

Researchers tracked over 200,000 people to reveal the hidden impact of breakups on mental health.

3.

Revealing The Unconscious Thoughts That Shape Your Relationship (M)

Learn why positivity might not be enough to save your love life.

4.

Why People Who Are Bullied Develop Relationship Problems (M)

How bullying in adolescence plants seeds of suspicion that lead to mental health struggles later in life.

5.

How To Unleash The Beautiful Emotion That Transforms Relationships (M)

The transformative power of this emotion in romantic relationships.

6.

The Percentage Of Men And Women Open To Multiple Partners

Up to 5 percent of people in the U.S. report they are currently in a consensual non-monogamous relationships.

7.

Who Says “I Love You” First: Men Or Women? (M)

Saying “I love you” is a risk — if it is not reciprocated it could irreparably damage the relationship.

.

The Most Attractive Quality In A Friend Is What Narcissists Lack

Narcissists tend to make friends quickly, but often find it hard to keep them because they lack a critical quality.

Narcissists tend to make friends quickly, but often find it hard to keep them because they lack a critical quality.

Narcissists attract others at first, but it’s emotional intelligence that helps us make friends in the long-term, research finds.

Qualities like empathy, the ability to control the emotions and investing in the relationship lead to better friendships…eventually.

The study’s authors write:

“…the combination most beneficial for long-term peer popularity is low narcissism paired with high EI [emotional intelligence].

It seems that a quieter and less needy ego, coupled with abilities to perceive, understand, use, and manage emotions, ensure better relationships in the long run.”

But at first sight, narcissists are tremendously attractive to others.

Their self-assurance and showmanship tends to draw people in.

Make friends for life

For the study, first year college students’ narcissistic tendencies were measured along with their emotional intelligence.

They were followed over three months to see how their popularity went up and down.

The results showed that those who did worst, in terms of friendships, were those low in both narcissism and emotional intelligence.

Those high in both qualities — a small minority — attracted friends early and held on to them.

Most people had a combination of average narcissistic tendencies and average emotional intelligence, and they did OK when trying to make friends.

For the long-term, though, emotional intelligence was the most important factor.

The study’s authors explain its long-term benefits:

“There was a positive effect of EI over time suggesting that revealing emotional skills needs time, as chances for regulating affect or understanding peers’ feelings appear only in specific social interactions.

Hence, emotionally intelligent people find more friends with time than their emotionally unintelligent counterparts.

The likely driving forces for these effects are high communal qualities of emotionally intelligent persons, which get noticed and appreciated by their social surrounding over time.”

The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Czarna et al., 2016).

The Simplest Way To Improve A Toxic Relationship

Partners with an avoidant attachment style do not want to get close.

Partners with an avoidant attachment style do not want to get close.

One of the most toxic relationship patterns is called an ‘avoidant attachment style’.

It is when one person (or both) in a relationship won’t commit because they want to avoid getting too attached to the other.

Around one quarter of people are avoidant.

However, simple exercises that build intimacy can help to improve this relationship pattern, research shows.

For one exercise, couples in the study took turns answering a series of questions that involved sharing information with each other.

Here are a few of the questions:

  • Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share …”
  • When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
  • Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
  • What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
  • Would you like to be famous? In what way?

All of these questions — which were designed by New York psychologist Professor Arthur Aron — help make couples feel more intimate with each other.

You can read all 36 question to fall in love here.

People in the study also did partner yoga, which is a series of poses designed for two people.

After doing the yoga and asking and answering the questions, partners with a more avoidant attachment style gave higher ratings to the relationship.

The researchers also gave some couples diaries to complete for three weeks.

These showed that listening and making the other feel loved did a lot to improve relationships.

Many activities to improve a difficult relationship take relatively little effort.

Just asking and answering thoughtful questions can make a real difference in reducing negative emotions and promoting satisfaction.

In addition, people found reflecting on positive relationship memories to be beneficial.

The study’s authors conclude:

“Although individuals who are more avoidantly attached tend to eschew intimacy and experience negativity in their relationships, recent research suggests that positive relationship contexts may help avoidant persons be more comfortable with closeness and experience better individual and relationship outcomes.

Simple positive and intimacy-promoting relationship experiences had both short and long-term effects for more avoidant persons.”

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Stanton et al., 2017).

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