Cupid's Pulse Article: 3 Things a Couple Can Do to Combat the Top Risk Factors and Save a MarriageCupid's Pulse Article: 3 Things a Couple Can Do to Combat the Top Risk Factors and Save a Marriage

By Mark Baer

Marriage is a wonderful institution that affords couples significant psychological, emotional and financial benefits, in addition to being a commitment of their love to each other. Almost certainly, nobody enters into a marriage, expecting that it will end in divorce. However, over the years, certain risk factors that contribute to the likelihood of divorce have become increasingly clear. The following is a list of 5 of the top risk factors for divorce:

Quality of interaction

Researchers have been able to predict with 90 percent accuracy whether or not a couple will divorce within 5 years, based upon the quality of their interaction. Negative interaction is highly predictive of marital distress.

Related: 5 Ways to Stop Sabotaging Your Relationships

Having divorced parents

Children of divorce have a higher rate of divorce, particularly when their parents’ divorce was a complete surprise to them. Such surprises cause children to lose trust in their relationships.

Marrying at a very young age

Marrying before age of 26 increases the likelihood of divorce, particularly earlier on in the marriage. As might be expected, this has to do with maturity. In fact, our brains do not reach full maturity until around age 25. Is it realistic that a lifetime commitment entered into before reaching maturity will last a lifetime?

Lack of a college education

There happens to be a correlation between income and education level. Since poverty causes a tremendous strain on marital relationships, the lack of a college education is a top risk factor.

Manner in which a person reacts to problems and disappointments

People who have strong or defensive reactions to problems and disappointments have a higher risk of divorce than those whose reactions are more reasonable and who have learned the art of non-defensive communication.

As with most things in life, some things are easier to address than others. The following is a list of the top 3 things couples can do to combat those risk factors:

Marital education programs

Studies published in the Journal of Family Psychology and in other highly respected organizations indicate that participation in marital education programs leads to more satisfying marriages and more than doubles the likelihood that couples will stay together. Those programs teach couples communication and problem solving skills, and how to maintain and intensify fun, affection and sexuality. Please note that “counseling” and “marital education programs” are not one and the same.


If one or both spouses suffer from trust issues with regard to relationships or have a personality tendency to have strong or defensive reactions to problems and disappointment, it might behoove them to seek therapy in an effort to resolve those issues.

Related: Five Celebrity Divorces We Really Weren’t Expecting

Return to school

It’s never too late to return to school and complete high school or its equivalent and enroll in college. This may require making certain sacrifices, especially when people are already experiencing financial difficulties. However, if income and level of education are related and you don’t obtain additional education, how do you otherwise address the strain that poverty takes on a marriage?

Mark earned his B.A. in Economics-Business from UCLA. From there, he went on to earn his law degree from Loyola Law School. He also completed extended studies in International and Comparative Law at Cambridge University in England. Mark is a public speaker and regular contributor and legal expert to a number of outlets including: The Los Angeles Times, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, REUTERS, TIME Magazine, The Pasadena Star News, KTLA Morning News as well as numerous ABC, CBS, NBC, CW, and FOX affiliates around the country.