A recent study of 691 couples indicated that the more partners argue, regardless of their style of quarreling, the more likely they will eventually divorce ("What's Fair in Love and Fights?," Richard Morin, Washington Post Weekly, June 7, 1993, p. 37). Conflicts beget distress, and eventually an argument can prove to be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Marriage researchers have found objective ways to measure the strength of the marital bond. One simple method is said to predict with 90 percent accuracy which couples will divorce and which will enjoy lasting marriages. In an experiment among newlyweds, the couples who would end up staying together made five or fewer critical comments (out of 100 comments) about each other. Newlyweds who later divorced had made 10 or more critical comments about each other.
Married couples are more sensitive to each other's nonverbal signals than many have supposed. Husbands and wives are often keenly aware of the implications of their spouses' presence and feelings. Even if couples are not consciously aware of certain signals, physiological changes (heart rate, blood pressure, etc.) provide confirmation that these signals are picked up by the opposite partner.
Several studies agree that the arousal of the husband's nervous system is an accurate indicator of unhappiness for both partners. Happily married couples should work at preserving their relationships by maintaining a five-to-one ratio of positive to negative incidents in their lives ("A Lens on Matrimony," Joanni Schrof, U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 21, 1994, p. 66-69).GN