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Health & Sex

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Math May Tell Which Marriages Last

Calculus, More Than Chemistry, Predicts Future Divorce Rates

Make or Break Factors continued...

So how do you stack the numbers in your favor?

"If I have to give one piece of advice based on this for heterosexual relationships, I'd say it's the importance of a man honoring his wife's life dreams, and showing his support," Gottman tells WebMD. "For women, it's having a gentle approach to raising issues. For instance, rather than saying, 'You don't pay enough attention to me', you say, 'Honey, I'm getting that lonely feeling because I really miss you and need more of you in my day.'

"Basically, in good relationships people pussy-foot around each other. They think about how their partner is going to react before they act or speak."

Susan Heitler, PhD, a marriage therapist in Denver and author of The Power of Two, a book on improving relationships, tells WebMD that the mathematical formula for predicting divorce indeed adds up.

"What this does is put into mathematical form what clinicians, relatives, and neighbors see for years before people they know get a divorce," she says. "The more negativity there is in a relationship, the less happiness. And at some point, the couple says, 'this isn't worth it.'"

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