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In addition, a person whose first child is born after the wedding is more likely to stay married than one who enters a marriage already a parent. A 2009 report from the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project, for example, showed that couples with no assets are 70 percent more likely to divorce within three years than couples with ,000 in assets.
That comes as no surprise to Terri Orbuch, Ph D, of the University of Michigan and Oakland University, who says arguments over money — how to spend, save and split it — plague even well-off couples. Other predictors of divorce are more contextual than personal.
Some of those factors, including ethnic background and socioeconomic status, are beyond a couple's control.
But, say psychologists, there are many behaviors, such as how a couple talks and fights and even the type of dates they go on, that can be learned and practiced — and can give a pair a fighting chance at 'til death do they part.
Now, thanks to longitudinal studies of thousands of couples and emerging research on previously understudied partnerships, one answer is becoming more apparent: Why some couples stick together isn't so much a coin toss as a science.
"Today, we have a pretty good idea of what's likely to make for a good marriage," says Stony Brook University researcher Arthur Aron, Ph D.
According to the latest national data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the likelihood that a couple will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary today isn't much greater than a coin toss: 52 percent for women and 56 percent for men.
"[Low-income couples] don't say, ‘If only we had more skills training and better communication,'" says Karney.
The researchers found that couples whose relationship satisfaction declined during the first four years of marriage were most often those who had reported less satisfaction to begin with (, 2012).