Getting married is a huge step for any couple — some would even say it’s one of the biggest steps you can take with a partner. You go from dating to saying “I love you” to committing to each other for life… or, at least you hope it’s for life. As much as marriage screams “forever!!!” that’s unfortunately not always the case. The United States’ divorce rate is slowly dropping, but it’s still pretty high, and that means there is a chance that you and your partner’s love story could be headed south sometime in the future. It’s not something any newlywed wants to think about, but that’s reality! But fear not, there are a number of newlywed warning signs that you can look out for in order to avoid trouble in paradise.


Divorce can sometimes come out of nowhere, but many times there are subtle signs leading up to the split that the couple has either not noticed or decided to ignore. Sometimes the people in the relationship can’t even see these newlywed warning signs because they’re so involved, and only those outside of the relationship really notice them, like friends, family members, or even the vendors they worked with while planning their wedding.

Below are some newlywed warning signs that could indicate a couple won’t be wedded for long.

1. They’ve always been heavy with the PDA.

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Research that looked at 168 couples over a 13-year period of time found that couples who are overly affectionate from the moment they meet each other are more likely to divorce than those who aren’t. The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that couples who are really into PDA might allow things to fall apart because they’re so into the infatuation stage of the relationship.

2. They show subtle contempt for each other.

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Research conducted by John Gottman, a psychologist at the University of Washington and the founder of the Gottman Institute, found that couples who show contempt for each other are more likely to divorce. Contempt is a mixture of anger and disgust, and it basically means that you think your partner is beneath you (even if you don’t say it out loud). Contemptuous actions can include things like eye-rolling, name-calling, and even just secretly believing yourself to be smarter or better than your significant other. Gottman calls it “the kiss of death.”

3. They can’t handle the little problems that come up when wedding planning.

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Planning a wedding can be a really stressful situation, and things are bound to go wrong at some point. Wedding photographer and Reddit user saerahmarina explained in a thread, “I think you can kind of tell if they are going to stay together forever based on how they handle all the little (and sometimes even big) problems a wedding day can bring.”

If you and your soon-to-be spouse can get through these things together, then that’s a good sign.

But if every little issue leads to a huge fight… that’s not good.

4. They lived together before getting married.

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You might think that living together before marriage would help you get adjusted to each other’s habits, right? Not always. Some studies have found that couples who lived together before getting married were more likely to get divorced in the long run. Researchers still aren’t sure exactly why this is.

5. How they carry out the cake cutting tradition at their wedding is a clue.

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Wedding photographer and Reddit user MorgaseTrakand believes that they can tell which couples will make it and which won’t by how they approach their cake cutting ceremony. They explained:

“Some people like to smear the cake everywhere as a joke, some people don’t. Usually the couple is in sync about this. They know what the other would like and they don’t smush cake on the other’s face if they wouldn’t want that. Sometimes one of them (usually the groom) will force cake all over the other’s face and embarrass and upset them. I’ve seen this happen a handful of times and all of those relationships that I have kept up with have ended in a divorce.”

It sounds weird, but it makes sense: it’s about respect.

6. They hold grudges against each other.

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Still genuinely angry at your new spouse for something they did three years ago?

If so, that’s not a great sign. Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW, an NYC-based therapist, explained that holding grudges is super toxic for a relationship. It leads to serious feelings of resentment that lead to bad arguments and lots of anger that just can’t be resolved. If you can’t learn how to forgive each other, then you’re never going to make it together in the long run.

7. They don’t prioritize time together.

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When you’ve been dating for awhile, it’s easy to accidentally put your relationship on the back burner.

You begin to take your S.O. for granted or you stop putting in the effort to plan special date nights — and that can seriously hurt your relationship. Couples therapist Alisha Powell, PhD, LCSW, told Bustle that not prioritizing your relationship can leave you both feeling disconnected emotionally, which can lead to breakups and divorce. This is especially true if you have kids.

8. They make rude “joking around” comments to each other.

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It’s fine to tease your significant other — it can even be a way of playful flirting. But if you’re both constantly making little jokes about each other that feel more mean-spirited than loving, that’s a sign something more could be going on. Wedding photographer and Reddit user oouzha said they can tell if a couple will stay together or not by the “off-handed comments” they make to each other. They explained: “‘Sure, I’ll have a swig. Just give me a mint, she’ll freak if she knows I drank before the ceremony.’ ‘Text his mom to bring it, don’t ask him. He’ll forget to bring it like he forgets everything else.’ These sorts of comments on wedding day betray early onset secrecy, bitterness, disrespect, but I see this all the time.”

9. One person withdraws during arguments.

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If you (or your partner) tend to pull away whenever there’s an argument, there could be trouble down the line.

A 2013 study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, found that this kind of withdrawal behavior predicts higher divorce rates. Another 2014 study, published in the journal Communication Monographs, found that couples who fall into this pattern of withdrawal behavior are significantly less happy.

Remember: communication is key, even when it’s hard.

10. They spent a ton of money on their wedding.

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A study conducted by Emory University found that “people who pay more than $20,000 for an engagement ring are three-and-a-half-times more likely to get a divorce than those who spend under $10,000.” A former divorce lawyer named Michelle Crosby told Glamour that, in her experience, this appears to be true: “Those brides that blindly focus more on the ring, the dress, and the party instead of the importance of what it takes to have a healthy partnership are more likely to one day sell that ring to pay for their divorce.”

11. They didn’t treat each other very well on their wedding day.

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Your wedding day should be one of the happiest days of your life. So it makes sense that if you’re both not treating each other well on that day, it could indicate that things may not go so smoothly years down the line. Wedding photographer and Reddit user thr3epointone4 said, “You can tell somewhat based on how the couple treats each other on the wedding day. If they are respectful toward one another (and toward me) during a day full of stress then I think that’s a good indicator of being able to deal with other problems that may arise during a marriage.” That definitely makes sense.

12. They don’t turn to each other when they’re stressed.

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Your partner is supposed to be the person you go to whenever you need someone. If you feel you can’t turn to them when you’re stressed, or they don’t go to you when they’re stressed, that could be a sign that you’ll end up divorced. According to Psychology Today, this is really negative, and could be indicative of how you feel about your spouse as a whole.

13. They don’t get along that well when learning something new.

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You can tell a lot about a couple by how they act when learning something new together. Reddit user fliccolo said, “…I taught hundreds of couple’s their first wedding dance. I totally knew whose marriages would thrive and which couple’s would crash and burn and by what year into the marriage, too.”

They added, “Couples who, when learning a new skill together (regardless of talent towards that new skill), compliment each other when one of them achieved something that the other did not are going to make it in life. Couples who would pass blame on to the other one when challenged to acquire a new skill always put my divorce Spidey senses up.”

14. They deal with a lot of financial issues.

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As much as we don’t want it to be, money tends to be a huge factor in relationships. Research has found that marital happiness decreases for couples who struggle to pay off their debts or who take on additional debts. If one person tends to spend more money than the other, studies have found that the likelihood of divorce increases by 45 percent.

15. Someone else’s wedding speech makes it obvious.

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Sometimes it’s not even the couple’s behavior that indicates they won’t stay together — it’s how their family and close friends feel about them. Reddit user and wedding photographer 2Dprinting noted that “while there isn’t a surefire way of knowing, I think I have a statistically significant level of accuracy for guessing whether a couple will still be together in five or ten years.” They explained, “what people who give speeches (maid of honor, best man, father of the bride) say about the person their friend/relative is marrying is a huge giveaway. Do they feel like this person enriches their new spouse’s life? Do they see them as an extension of their family or as a close friend? Are there positive anecdotes about how each person complements the other? Or are they simply ‘happy for them?'”

They added, “I’ve heard some truly heartfelt, touching words shared during toasts…and have heard others that were seriously underwhelming. If it isn’t easy for you to think of why this person is a good match for your friend, that’s a bad sign.”

16. The woman is older.

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Weird, but this is apparently backed up with some solid research that has found that if the woman is three or more years older than her husband, they are 53 percent more likely to get divorced. However, the exact reason for this remains undetermined.

17. They can’t see things from the other person’s perspective.

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Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW, a NYC-based therapist, told VOX that not being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes shows there’s little empathy in the marriage, and that can eventually lead to divorce. You have to be able to consider what your partner might be feeling in order to get through certain issues, and if you can’t, that’s a big problem.

18. They can’t let loose during their wedding photos.

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How a couple acts on their wedding day is a really big indication of what their marriage will be like in the future. Reddit user Chelseafrown explained: “A friend of mine is a fairly successful engagement/marriage photographer, as well as a relationship blogger. She says she can tell how in love a couple is based on whether they pay attention to each other during the photos or her, the photographer. I guess it’s the contrast of sharing an experience together versus fretting over optics. I’ve never heard her mention specific red flags, but she speaks very highly of couples who are willing to be silly and adventurous in their engagement shoots over those who are just taking the most glamorous/stream-lined portraits.”

Remember: every relationship has its problems sometimes.

Experiencing a few of these bumps in the road once in a while isn’t necessarily a sign that your relationship is in trouble, but experiencing them frequently could be a red flag, so be mindful!


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