The cause of a marriage heading south isn’t always clear. Maybe there was a breach of trust. Perhaps it feels like the two of you have nothing in common anymore. Or you may just have a gut feeling that something feels off–disconnected–and you don’t know how to make it better.
When a marriage is on a downward trajectory, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the end of the relationship is in sight. However, there is one powerful factor that greatly increases your chances of divorce.
Marriage counselors and scientific research have both found that when one or both members of a relationship feel hopeless, it’s a real red flag for the viability of the relationship.
Researchers conducted a study examining hopelessness as a predictor of divorce. It found that participants who began the study already feeling hopeless in their relationship were more likely to get divorced within three years.
The reason for this is that hopeless people have already settled in their minds that the relationship can’t be saved. They are apathetic and less engaged in the relationship. And they’re no longer willing to invest time and energy into fixing it.
Once you’ve begun feeling hopeless about your relationship, it’s a difficult feeling to shake. It probably won’t be effective to force yourself to maintain a hopeful outlook when you’re already certain your relationship is headed for the finish line.
However, the findings of the study suggest the importance of addressing marital issues as they come up–before you reach a state of hopelessness, and when you’re still committed to making things work. Consider couples therapy or working together to set realistic expectations for your partnership.
Working to save a marriage before disillusionment destroys it is key. Once that hopeless feeling rears its ugly head, it’s a difficult place for your marriage to bounce back from.