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North Carolina Divorce Attorneys Report: Study reveals patterns of marital conflict can predict divorce

/// 10/21/2010

As high divorce rates remain relatively steady across the country, the quest to understand what causes the separation of a husband and wife continues. Whether an individual is planning to, or has already entered marriage, understanding what causes divorce can contribute to a healthy marriage. The divorce lawyers of Gailor, Wallis & Hunt understand that divorce is a process which most couples hope to never experience, but explain that failure to understand what causes the demise of a marriage may actually be a contributing factor to its end.


The North Carolina family lawyers of Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, in an effort to educate those seeking knowledge about the causes of divorce, discuss the findings of a recent study  at the University of Michigan. According to the report, while it is well known that couples who yell at each other or call each other names have a higher incidence of divorce, other conflict patterns can also be predictive of divorce. The report, which was published in the October 2010 issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, and then reprinted in Science Daily, explained that a particularly toxic pattern between couples occurs when one spouse deals with conflict constructively, through listening to their partner’s point of view and calmly discussing the disagreement, and the other spouse withdraws. The study found that in cases where one spouse sought to constructively resolve a conflict; the other’s withdrawal from the conflict was assumed by the constructive party to be a lack of investment in the relationship rather than an attempt to cool down the situation.

The data for the study was collected from the Early Years of Marriage Study, which was supported by funding from the National Institute of Aging and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Spanning 16 years of information gathering, this study constitutes one of the nation’s largest and longest projects to examine patterns of marital conflict. The study included 373 couples that were interviewed four times a year over the 16-year period, beginning with the first year of marriage.

While researchers found that 29 percent of husbands and 21 percent of wives surveyed during their first year of marriage reported no conflicts at all, nearly half, 46 percent, of the couples were divorced by the sixteenth year of the study. Researchers also found that the lack of fighting during the first year of marriage bore no influence over the couple’s odds of divorce.

According to the University of Michigan report, husbands reported using more constructive methods for solving conflict than their counterparts at the beginning of the marriage. But, husbands were less likely than their wives to modify negative behaviors over time. U-M researcher Kira Birditt explained that, “The problems that cause wives to withdraw or use destructive behaviors early in a marriage may be resolved over time.”

The North Carolina divorce attorneys of Gailor, Wallis & Hunt understand that while some spouses  learn to modify negative behaviors, such as withdrawing from a marital conflict, others may be unable or unwilling to change their patterns. While one party may attempt to mend a negative situation through active listening and constructive feedback; the negativity of withdrawal by the other party can be so destructive as to result in an inability of the couple to salvage the marriage thus resulting in a separation and divorce. If separation or divorce becomes inevitable, it is important to consult a competent family law attorney who can provide clear and cogent advice regarding the complex issues which will arise.

Each attorney in the firm of Gailor Wallis & Hunt possesses a particular proficiency in a specific area of family law, which enhances the firm’s ability to respond to, and settle or litigate any issue, no matter how complex. The lawyers at Gailor, Wallis & Hunt are ready and able to help you through the separation and divorce process whether by achieving a successful settlement for you or, if necessary, by litigating in the courts. To contact the firm, call them at 866-362-7586, or visit their website at

Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, PLLC

Divorce is Tough – So Are We



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