Is your marriage headed toward divorce? -

Is your marriage headed toward divorce?

With nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce, the statistics aren't very uplifting. So we met with a few experts to help you pinpoint "signs" that you may be headed for a split.

Do the littlest things irk you? Are you always on edge?

These could be telltale signs that you're headed for divorce.

Have you heard of the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," depicting the end of times in the New Testament? It's used as a metaphor by researcher John Gottman to describe communication styles that can lead to the end of a relationship.

Dr. Krystyna Aune is a professor of communicology at the University of Hawaii who specializes in interpersonal communication. She explains, "One of the first signs that you might see of a kind of disengagement of a relationship is criticism. So you find yourself being more critical, thinking more about the differences between you and your partner."

That's the first horseman.

The second is truly corrosive to a relationship: Contempt, or even disgust.

"It's absolutely a sign that there is really serious trouble in a relationship, so if you find yourself rolling your eyes at your partner and saying 'Ugh, what a jerk' or 'what a dummy' or worse, that is really, really problematic in a relationship," said Dr. Aune.

The third horseman to watch out for is defensiveness.

"You find yourself reacting to maybe what might be innocent comments in a defensive manner," explained Dr. Aune.

Stonewalling is the fourth and final horseman.

"You're not really there. You might be there physically, but you're not there emotionally, cognitively, psychologically -- really just going through the motions and withdrawing from your partner and your interdependent activities," she explains.

If you recognize any of these "horsemen" in your own relationship, it could be time to make some changes.

"Some couples have great success with intervention and couples therapy. You might check yourself and say. 'Gosh. Why am I doing this? Is it stress that's going on? Is there some reason why I seem to be taking out negative emotions on my partner?'" says Dr. Aune.

She also says arguing, in and of itself, isn't problematic. It's how you argue. Bringing character or personality flaws into the argument is a problem.

"Arguing can be very healthy, so long as there isn't criticism and contempt of the partner during the interaction," she explains. "A calm and even heated discussion, so long as it's about the issue and not about the partner."

Relationships are tough, but hopefully these tools can help you and your partner mend before you break.

Copyright 2012 America NowAll rights reserved.

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