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Identifying divorce risks in a relationship

People in Wisconsin might be more likely to get a divorce if they have developed certain behavioral patterns. John Gottman, an author, researcher and marriage counselor, has identified criticism, stonewalling, contempt and defensiveness as behaviors that couples must stop if they want to save their marriage.

Gottman says contempt is the most dangerous of the four. Examples of contempt including mimicking the other person, eye rolling and behaving disrespectfully toward the other person. In fact, disrespect is at the heart of contempt, and according to Gottman, this is why contempt is so destructive to a relationship.

However, some couples can recover from contempt and other negative behaviors. Gottman has techniques for helping them get past this. One way is to ask the couple to think about when they first met and what they admired about one another. A couple may find it difficult to cooperate as a team in saving the marriage when there is so much bad feeling between them, but this exercise might help them start to rebuild the relationship if there is still a core of friendship left. Another technique is for both people to start looking at what the other person is doing right rather than focusing on that person's mistakes.

If efforts to fix the relationship are unsuccessful and a couple decides to divorce anyway, their attempts at negotiation might not be over. They may need to negotiate property division and child custody. Many couples prefer to do this with their attorneys instead of going to court where a judge will decide because it gives them more control over the outcome. It can also be less time-consuming and costly than litigation. People may be able to prepare for these negotiations by talking to an attorney about their priorities and on what aspects they may be willing to compromise.

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