Can Divorce Be Predicted?

zodiac fortune board vintageJohn Gottman who is a psychologist who wrote, The Mathematics of Marriage: Dynamic Nonlinear Models. He studied relationship in an effort to be able to predict who would divorce with very limited data. He came up with a super effective formula.

He claims he can can listen to a couple talk about anything, for one hour, then predict with 95% accuracy if they will be married or divorced within 15 years. If he listens for just 15 minutes, he can still predict this with 90% accuracy! He got so good at this, he found he could eavesdrop on a couple eating dinner in a restaurant and have a pretty good idea where they were headed. 

Marriages have a sort of DNA. The way we relate to another is hardwired. In terms of astrology,  the DNA of a relationship would be shown in the composite chart.  If you do form a relationship, the composite chart is inescapable.

It’s interesting science is now making the same kind of claims astrologers are punished for. That is, that these things are predictable! I don’t know why this makes people so uncomfortable.

Personally, I’d just as soon have him listen to me talk to my lover and tell me in advance the relationship was going nowhere! That it was not going to satisfy!  And if he said, “You two are very fortunate,” I would like that as well!

This is related, more from Gottman – How To Keep Love Once You Find It.

How do you feel about a guy being able to predict the future of your relationship after sharing lunch with you and your partner?  What about an astrologer looking at a few charts and doing same?



Can Divorce Be Predicted? — 77 Comments

  1. I read about this guy on WebMD. It’s cool, but I’d be leery.

    Personally, I’m happy where I am right now relationship-wise. And if it’s not going to work, I don’t want to grieve early – I’ve already invested nearly six years, learning I’m doomed now would be depressing.
    So, um. Nah, I’ll pass…. 😀

  2. Mostly it makes me wish it wasn’t considered “weird” to ask a potential date for their birth data! 😉


  3. For the record, Dr. Gottman has been studying married couples for 20 years. He doesn’t just listen to them or eavesdrop, he actually videotapes them for an extended period of time while he’s out of the room. He will then do follow-up work. It’s only after he studied thousands of couples over a 20 year period that he came up with the predictive parameters.

    Right now I can only remember two of the predictive criteria for failure: contempt and stonewalling. If you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. But he did find that there are different kinds of happy marriages: some people loved to argue, others hated conflict, etc.

    Btw, he was originally a mathematician who got sidetracked into psychology. He is now working on studying how same-sex couples behave with one another and apparently there a couple of differences between happily united same-sex couples and happily united hetero marriages.

    Funny that you should post this today, Elsa, bc I had a question about composite charts that I posted on another astrology site.

  4. We wil listen but we are all going to end up doing what ever our dang old hearts tell us to do. You know what I mean?

  5. Unnerving stuff. Guess it helps to use the science to “minimse risk” from potentially negative relationships. But like Cassi says… some will just follow the heart. Besides… risk is just that… risk. The potential for behavioural change has not been taken into account…

    Just my 2 cents. 😉

  6. I think I’d be interested in knowing, just because, like right now, I have some gut feelings about my future with my husband that I’d love some outside confirmation on. 🙂

  7. Hmm, no, what Gottsman does is not really about risk. He observes the way that two people relate to each other. So, for instance, if someone is putting you down, not listening to you, not acknowledging you, etc., Gottsman will say: This relationship isn’t going to survive. See what the difference is? He’s not gauging compatibility. He’s observing a relationship dynamic. There’s a difference. For instance, we’ve all known people who were extremely compatible and then they got together and the relationship flopped. And it seems like a mystery, right? And then we know the opposite, right, people who don’t seem like they’re compatible at all and for some reason the relationship works. In the latter case, you’d think it’d be more of a risk to get involved with a person who’s not compatible. In fact, it may seem like there’s no risk at all going into a relationship with someone who shares a lot of interests, likes, traits, etc. For instance, it’s the difference between synastry aspects and a composite chart.

    Gottsman is not evaluating each person individually and predicting the level of risk involved in pursuing a relationship with that person. He doesn’t say anything about risk at all; he says that if there are four danger signs present during a couple’s interaction, that relationship is doomed. And the difference is that these people are already in the relationship; these aren’t people who are making up their minds about whether or not they want to get involved with each other. I’m not sure if I’m being clear, I just wanted to show that there’s a subtle difference. In a way, what Gottsman is doing takes a lot less work than astrological analysis.

  8. there was a whole this american life episode about this, with an interview with gottman himself and excerpts from some of these taped interviews with couples. it was fascinating. if you go to the TAL website, you can type in “gottman” in the search engine, and it will pull up an episode called “the sanctity of marriage.” you can download the audio file to your desktop or mp3 player and listen to it–it is truly revealing!!!

  9. I LOVE Gottman and his Four Horsemen… I’ve always wished he could eavesdrop on relationships I’ve been in and pull me aside later to give me the skinny.

  10. I love the idea and very very tempting but then I think about the few relationships that I have been in.. Each relationship I have learned SOOOOO much about myself and what I really want/need in a relationship that I am glad I went through it. If I hadn’t I would still have just a fantasy of what I want. I really feel(on my good days 🙂 ) that those relationships have/are preparing me for the right one and wouldn’t give up my past experiences for the world.

  11. Actually, I’d be more inclined to trust the astrology. This guy is looking at couples at a particular point in time; what if both are having an off day? I understand, the point is that the couple is working within a certain dynamic no matter what the external stuff is- but I don’t know if you can say that is a consistent state.
    I think astrology gives the imprint, and I think it’s an accurate way to see the raw material of the relationship- but as Elsa says, it’s how the energy is directed, and that’s the big question mark that I have about this guy. So he can see what kinds of behavior are detrimental to a relationship, which lead to divorce– but beyond that, can he say much else about the quality or strengths and weaknesses of the partnership?
    I’m not dismissing this guy, just saying that ok, he is sensitive to the usual and general behaviors of couples who either divorce or stay together–but that doesn’t tell the whole story about the relationship. It’s an interesting skill, but not all relationships are pass or fail based on if there was a marriage or if it lasted. They are also a huge tool for growth so…that’s what I think, this fine fall morning 🙂

  12. That would be very cool in my books. The amount of time and heartache I have spent on marriages that have turned into a disaster when I could have had more time with the right person would have been a boon if you ask me.
    My first marriage was a deal marriage those almost never work but then it was never supposed to no heartache over that one don’t even remember that husbands birth date. The only reason this marriage lasted 3 years was that I had a son the last year of the marriage.
    However my second husband was born 7 September 1949 and this marriage was a different story altogether. We were legally married for 19 years the first seven years were good the next 12 sucked rocks and broken glass through a straw with brief periods of deceptive light that looked as if we were going to make it.
    Currently I am married to the most wonderful man his DOB: 21 March 1957 and we were married 27 December 1997 has been wonderful I really can not imagine being in an intimate relationship with anyone else.

  13. Whatever this guy’s track record I don’t believe he would have been able to accurately predicate the outcome of my last relationship based upon hearing us chat. The problems we had were out-of-sight like the twelfth house.

  14. I love that. I think it’s awesome that he could just listen to a couple and know if they’d make it as a couple or not. I’m curious as to what the defining factors are and how those specifically would relate to the composite chart. (That sounds so fascinating!) As for an astrologer doing the same, I think that they have a leg up because they have a lot more information to work with. (And I hate that astrology is considered weird, but ya know, the masses don’t tend to like great ideas – until someone cool comes along and makes it the norm, and if it weren’t weird, it would probably become like religion: taken into way too many contexts and probably watered down.)

  15. Its got merit, and just because two people are headed to divorce does not mean the marriage was a failure. We need to interact and get our issues mirrored back to us to figure out what they are. Otherwise we’ll never grow.

  16. “just because two people are headed to divorce does not mean the marriage was a failure.”

    I disagree.

    If the goal was to stay together until death do you part, it is definitely a failure.

    If the goal was to grow, then possibly not a failure but even in this case you may have failure because plenty of people get divorced and don’t grow at all.

    • I agree with you too. It is the true intention when you get married (traditionally) with rings and a priest, or even at the courthouse, that “till death do you part” is the motive. Old age and grave.

      yes, it IS a failure if the couple never makes it there.

      And yes, plenty of divorces and they still didnt grow, these people, they hopped to another relationship and another and never grew.

  17. I’d feel better about the astrology. Honestly–the dude would hurt my feelings, because I’m sensitive.

    1 year into my relationship a friend (very blunt Gemini with Moon in Cancer) said: ‘You guys are cute together but you’re never going to last.’ I was super upset and asked her why she would say that.

    ‘Because you’re annoying him.’

    LOL. Guess what? She was right…but when I reminded her of what she’d said she was horrified and almost cried she felt so bad about it. I shoulda kept that one in the vault. Don’t make a Cancer Moon cry–you’ll be sorry!

  18. I think I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t especially trust what astrology says about relationships, LOL! I’ve had charts that had all sorts of “good signs” for a relationship, and…phew, didn’t work out, sometimes in truly awful ways. Other times, a chart looked meh, and the person is still in my life. We’re not dating, but we’re still friends.

    What I don’t really like about it is that there’s never a perfect astro chart. Ever. So, did you break up because of those few bad aspects? Or, was it just because you’re human and have problems, or he’s a cheater?

    Anyway, I just don’t believe in astrology for relationships anymore, and I don’t look at those charts at all when I’m dating, for the most part. I just let us both be human. You can’t predict what someone else will do with their heart, and I think we should stop trying to control it.

  19. This is great. Think of all the time saved.
    But humans will never learn to take advice,you follow your heart your conviction ect….and you are willing to take the risk because you think arguing and suffering in a relationship eventually pays of…until your about 90 ,and get that following ur heart is a disservice to your self.
    Great idea -but useless-people don’t learn from other’s mistakes

    • That’s how I live. Not all of us have a better alternative to the negative relationships we immerse ourselves in to get temporary relief from soul-destroying sexual and romantic loneliness. Some of us would like to at least get laid occasionally as we prepare to die alone.

    • That’s how I live. Not all of us have a better alternative to the negative relationships we immerse ourselves in to get temporary relief from soul-destroying sexual and romantic loneliness. Some of us would like to at least get laid and experience a few scraps of affection before we die alone having never found what we needed most. Better choices are for people who actually have better options. You can’t make your own luck in love. Scorpio moon howling.

  20. LOL @satori 🙂

    I also learn from other people all the time–and here’s a tip: pay attention to the Capricorns!!!! They have shown me time and time again that 1 plus 1 is 2. Of course I am generalizing, but they are the best examples of payoff and solid decisions.

    Lots of love to the Cappys xo!!

  21. I think it’s nifty. There’s still the five to ten percent chance he’s wrong. Would the knowledge of making it or not influence what really happens?

  22. I was reading a review of another book he did based on these studies… Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Obvs. I didn’t read either book but the reviewer did not like this second one… parts of the review made me lol:

    “The first problem is what John claims as seven principles comes down to hundreds and hundreds of things to do with someone you already have a problem with. If you can’t get your husband to stop throwing his underwear on the floor, what chance do you have getting him through Gottman’s first principle, which involves doing multiple exercises containing 116 items.”

    and their conclusion:

    “And that is really the problem with this book. John Gottman’s argument comes down to a defective syllogism:
    —All zebras have stripes.
    —If you had stripes, you would be a zebra.
    —I’ve got a bucket of paint.”

    I’m ROLLING he-ah!

  23. But I think you are an exeption Elsa..a very wise one..

    I don’t follow advice that well, and it has hit me in the head over and over.
    Most people I know don’t either…I am sure there are many who do, but I think the majority don’t or we would be much more advanced in all aspects. But I don’t really know. I have never been in a romantic relationship..I have just observed family and friends repeating the same mistakes over generations…

    • Sometimes short-term pleasure is worth enormous pain and doesn’t stop being worth it for decades if ever. Especially if it’s all you’re ever going to get.

  24. It’s humility then, iathina85. I can’t imagine I know more about a road I’ve not been on than someone whose traveled the thing.

    If they tell me there is a HOLE -> there, I will avoid the thing if at all possible.

  25. I have read John Gottman’s work over the years and I think he has led some very fascinating studies. Recently, I read an article disclaiming his math/stats and I have to say his numbers might be a tad inflated regarding his success rate. That said, he still have offered plenty of food for thought and given me some good insights.

  26. I can absolutely certainly tell you my parents would be in the other 10%.

    I’d bookmarked some of gottman’s stuff on amazon but never bought it.

    I dunno, I think 90% might be overstating his abilities. I also dislike something about the way that’s phrased like he knows the secret to the universe and he may or may not tell us (yah, i get it, that’s supposed to be the hook). There are probably other books that set a more helpful, open-minded tone.

  27. Guess so:)

    that is always creating problems for me my “arrogance/ pride” makes it impossible to even ask someone for directions(littraly), I rather use hours figuring out it my self. I have actually fought my frieds over that.

    but I like your ex , and it is def the smartest thing to do:):)

  28. I´m gemini, of course i´d find it fascinating if someone observed me and my guy over lunch and let me know the results. It´s science – i don´t need to take it personal, do i?

    But then, i´m all out of that “one-time, all-encompassing, everlasting true love” pattern by now and just in for the experience, however long it may last. In fact, i´ve come to cherish my past love life, painful as it sometimes was, but i wouldn´t have one of the participants back, neither do i wish any of them would have lasted a lifetime. As i said- i´m gemini with sun in 7 ;-). I can´t even understand anymore why others strive so hard for “the one partnership”. When i did, it was very much a cinderella – compensation-complex, due to Neptune and pisces moon. The little mermaid… who, as we all know, paid direly for her aspirations. DId i? Yes and no…

    As for the astrology: i don´t use it for partnership predictions anymore, unless for my own entertainment. I´ve found so many aspects, so many factors that play out so differently in real life compared to “what the books say” and what i myself might guess from experience, so i turned humble. What i love to use it for is – consciousness. Introducing one individual in his or her own right to the other, and, by means of the composite, introducing both to the character that is their relationship. To me it´s like a map, the themes are laid out, but how to handle them is a different story. Plus, depending on my mood, i can read the map all wallowing in optimism or drowned in the opposite… i mean, take a stellium of sun, venus and pluto in the 6th house, for instance – looks good, but in six? Meeh… so you either have to include work and health issues into the partnership and take them on, with all consequences, or you´ll suffer, feel dissatisfied and try to get out as fast as you can. Or take saturn in twelve – how can i trust a relationship with saturn in 12? Well, i could wreck my nerves on that… or choose to trust anyway unless proven otherwise. My choice, my consequences. It´s just a map. So i came to use the charts to just take a look at the energies, but not judge by them unless they´re actually showing up in real life.
    I like partnership research, comments and theories, though, like, for the mind – if it works, fine, but then again, in the end it´s just science.

  29. Our marriage counseling pastor said not to get married. Said where we were then was no good. But we married. I have saturn and stayed for nearly 20 years until my cardinals took all the stimuli they could stand with out moving on and I was done. So yeah I think people who are gifted can for see it but sometimes the astrology really is the key

    • ltg I’m reading your comment years later and “I have saturn and stayed for nearly 20 years until my cardinals took all … they could stand and I was done.” I stayed for almost 24, and though I don’t know my ex’s astro markers, I’d bet there was something like this going on. The UNTIL MY CARDINALS TOOK ALL THEY COULD STAND, that, will be chuckle bait for me. Thanks!

  30. All my past relationships have got me where i am now, each one taught me something about myself, when i married i had no clue about the man that suited my needs 15 years later it became clear no more kissing frogs i will recognize my prince when he comes, a physic predicted our demise he said your husband is for right now not the man your gonna spend the rest of your life with even told me at what age we will divorce …guess what he was right

  31. No, thanks, I don’t need this. I was thinking about this topic a couple of days ago. If you have someone to tell you, that he / she is the wrong one for you, you’ll probably end up alone because you wouldn’t have any experience how to behave in an intimate relationship. This also means that you would screw up the relationship that is right by the opinion of others.
    Yes, you can learn from other people’s experiences, but the lessons you earn from your own mistakes are better material for you. You work hard and earn knowlegde of yourself… or not. In latter case, you make the same foolish things again and again and every relationship will be a fail. Or Epic Fail. One should work on themselves to succeed in a relationship.
    (Jupiter in Virgo)

    • I agree. I wouldn’t go near that book. Some of the worst mistakes I’ve ever made were the only happy times in my life while they were happening. Jupiter in Sagittarius.

  32. I would want this information, absolutely. I would get the astrology looked at first, and then I might consult this guy. If there was a discrepancy, I’d trust the astrologer.

  33. Hmm. I would go with Astrology first then read his books. But I don’t think I would want him to make a pronouncement on my relationship either way,

  34. I think I would use all the help I could get. I’ve always said that I wanted to be matched up with a partner by a matchmaker. I think of it along those lines. I just think people who have a knack for relationships should share whatever info they have. Because there is a lot of us struggling out there.

    • I think luck has a tremendous amount to do with it. Pedophiles have long-term relationships. I am NOT saying someone married to a closet pedophile is lucky, what I mean is people can be dreadful human beings and somehow still attract relationships that others can’t.

  35. Plus, you gotta remember each person has the power to make choices in their own life. Lots of people stay in crappy marriages. Sometimes when someone makes a ‘prediction’ for a couple, those people give their power away to that prediction. Sometimes these things can backfire. I think its silly to predict an outcome – that definitely is disempowering. I think its better to talk about what the issues are and what one can do to make their marriage better. That’s why astrologers who try to make predictions for outcomes usually fail. Ir’s impossible…all one can do is state how the planetary energies are informing a person and how they can work with them. Except for horary of course, when one asks a specific yes or no question and wants a specific answer.

    • yes, yes i agree with you. You have to take care of your own backyard, and not everyone else’s even if it’s just one or two people. You can give them hints, but it’s still not enough because every couple’s dynamics is DIFFERENT. what works for them doesn’t work for you, and this will backfire. Take care of your own backyard is the motto.

  36. This is so interesting. My husband and I, unfortunately, are divorcing.

    It’s been a while since I’ve looked at our composite chart and after reading this, I realized its important to look again. We have a Mars, Sun, Saturn, Mercury conjunction in the fourth house.

    We just have too much energy working against us. Neither of us lacks the try try try gene. We made it seven years, different cultures, a significant age gap, wildly different family backgrounds.

    It just became too… cold.

    I don’t think I would have let anyone tell me otherwise until it (the divorce) happened, I would have argued or denied it. Looking towards the future, however, I will seek out astrology advice.

  37. interesting to know- what could be the astrology markers for a possible divorce? ( or marriage discord)
    can you maybe elaborate Elsa?

      • thank you for your replay!
        is ( for example) a moon square sun composite problematic?…pluto squre venus?
        things like that?

        • I’m sorry. This is not a piecemeal things like that. Harsh aspects may cause conflict without them, what do you have? Spineless amoeba?

          I’m serious, now. I will call a divorce when I see one, but it will be a combination of things and not just synastry. Transits!!

          You see what I am saying. Legions of people with those aspects between their charts have been and stayed married for decades / a lifetime. You simply can’t look at something like that and call, “doom”, though I know that astrologers do this all the time.

          Astrologers aren’t necessarily all that bright. We’re like any other profession. Waste your money on an attorney for example, or have one save you what amounts to a million dollars in time, pain and suffering…

          So I don’t like being pressured to answer questions which have no valid answer in the truth of life, as understood after 45 years of astrological studies. You may as well be asking me if the value of Pi might be 7? The answer is no. I am not trying to be rude, I am trying to get you to understand what I am saying,

  38. I’m from the Garth Brooks school of thought. “Our lives are better left to chance. I could have missed the pain but I’d have had to miss the dance.” That being said, I have crazy good chemistry, synastry and a composite (sun conjunct Venus in Aries) with my Gemini sun Libra moon Leo rising man. Yum is the word. 🙂

    • The Dance – Best song ever! That IS life! Nothing lasts forever, not relationships, not where we live, not our pets, not even us. If we don’t want to bother unless it will last forever, we won’t do anything at all, not even be born.

  39. In a man’s chart, 12 H Venus in hard aspect to his Mars tips off a cheater. In addition, a man’s asteroid Juno squaring his asteroid Sappho is typical of serial sex addicts (Tiger Woods has this aspect in his chart).

  40. Personally I would rather not hear what anyone has to say that’s negative about the future of a relationship I’m in even if it’s accurate. I haven’t had a happy long-term one yet and gloomy predictions just would have ruined the good sex I was having if little else.

  41. Some people are perceptive, and effective in addressing (identifying, saying what is & acting, if the person in question agrees). Sharp knives people: surgeons, Elsa P., and, it seems, John Gottman. In these three instances, it’s verifiable. The effects are plainly evident.
    I’ll elaborate. I had surgery for a bone fracture, late autumn 2015. That fracture, and the repair work, are still in the process of healing. Often happens, we know when a healing process starts (immediately after injury, btw) but, how long it’ll take, depends on many, many factors. Happily, there are people with special skill sets, who can spotlight what’s important, and share their insight.
    A rule of thumb (Taurus Sun, Mercury in Aries in Venus’ other house, 7th – I love rules of thumb. And empirics): it’s good to remember, what any of us is experiencing, this is real life, now.
    Sidenote: obviously, anyone would prefer to be moving freely, getting whatever we want doing, done – unencumbered. Me, too. However, owning both a gorgeous wooden cane, and forearm crutches – both options being more annoying than being able to operate without them – the latter offer greater range of doing stuff. (Many fancy tweeks on them, since they were invented in 1915, for wounded soldiers; mine are plain, similar to the original model.)

  42. I wouldn’t want to know. I was married 30 years, and 27 years of it we had a wonderful time together. Now I’ve been in a semi-long distance, part-time, somewhat casual relationship that’s lasted six years, so far. There are very clear things that would be a difficult challenge if we were full-time, but part-time those things don’t matter. I wouldn’t want to have missed either of these relationships just because someone might have said they wouldn’t last forever. Nothing lasts forever.

  43. These two approaches don’t seem like the same thing to me at all.

    This math guy is a predictor of doom, but a good astrologer will point out the “challenges” and therefore, even if a couple had a challenging chart, they could be made aware of the hurdles and decide if they want to clear them or not.Free will is involved with astrology … but not with the numbers guy. He is just one more guy spreading doom and gloom, and trying to convince people that it is wise to be time efficient and scientific with relationships, rather than letting things unfold naturally. (and as we get further away from our natural blueprint, I suspect this will be the norm. When you go to get a marriage license, perhaps the government will employ his system and decide for you whether you can marry a person or not. Is your heart happy-dancing yet?)

    I am weary with right-angle thinking that tries to force every aspect of our lives into a neat and tidy box. Viva the randomness of life!

  44. I’m just like this guy. I can predict divorce or splitting up just by looking at a photo or being around the couple for a few minutes. And I have been accurate at least 80-85% of the time. It’s an awkward gift to have because I’d rather not know, to be honest. The optimist in me believes in the power of enduring love. But people in general aren’t cut by that kind of solid cloth anymore. It’s all about trading up and if you’re empathic, you can feel peoples’ level of commitment right off the bat.

  45. Yeah, I don’t think I’d want to know either. Too textbook. More of an adventurist. I think if I had wanted kids, I would have wanted to know if he would be in that together with me. That’s a big planned adventure. A tough ride. A long ride. One I would not want to do alone.

  46. One of the wonky factors I know about: if people are comfortable standing, side by side, with body language leaning to sharing space – personal sphere, potential for exchanging, communicating (oh goodness, I know that lacks specific description – sorry!) then, there’s potential for continuing to relate, to develop the communication (Mercury, matters more than we might believe it does).

    • Yes, yes, well said Poppy. Mercury resides over perception and reason. It reflects the way we see, hear,understand, and assimilate information. Personally I believe Mercury is underrated in every and all relationships with regard to our chart. Mercury garners the upmost import in regard to synastry between any and all relationships.

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