Can marriage argument styles indicate the odds of divorce?

The Voice of America highlights a recent study about argument styles in marriage and the impact on divorce rates. It was a 16 year study, so the results are worth noting.

University of Michigan professor Kira S. Birditt led the study of 373 couples. The study found that 46% had divorced by the final year of the study in 2002.

The couples were asked at four different times to report on their most recent conflict. First, they had to agree on which conflict was their most recent. The husbands and wives each had to choose from a list of behaviors to describe the strategies they used. The list included behaviors like calm discussion, listening and trying hard to find out the other person’s feelings. The list also included behaviors like yelling, using insults, walking away or not communicating — in other words, the silent treatment.

Assistant professor Kira Birditt led the study which found that over time, wives became less destructive in the way they argued. Husbands stayed the same.

They also found that different combinations of strategies may help predict whether a couple will stay together. The chances decrease if only one partner uses constructive strategies.

More detail at LiveScience: Birditt and U-M colleagues Lisa Jackey and Toni Antonucci looked at how negative views of spouses, friends and children changed over time and among different age groups, including young adults (ages 20 to 39), middle-aged adults (40 to 59) and older adults (60 and over).

We’re trying to get our hands on the study to look more closely, if you want to get it yourself, it was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family October 2010 under the title Marital Conflict Behaviors and Implications for Divorce Over 16 Years by Kira S. Birditt, Edna Brown, Terri L. Orbuch, Jessica M. McIlvane/

Thanks to Richard Nicastro @RelationshipAid for pointing out the VOA article.

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