"Look at them bickering like an old married couple" is both a literary trope and a saying used to describe that couple that everyone knows.
But it’s ok, because they love each other really, right?
That depends, according to psychologist John Gottman.
Gottman runs an institute of the same name, in which he can predict the likelihood of divorce with an accuracy rate of 93 per cent, based on what he calls the “Four Horsemen:” criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt.
That last behaviour is often exhibited in arguments. If you feel more than basic frustration towards simple grievances – like a partner who forgets to do food shopping – there are underlining issues, and your relationship may be on its last legs.
Ellie Lisitsa, writing for The Gottman Institute, outlines contemptuous behaviour:
Some examples of displays of contempt include when a person uses sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humour. Contempt is the greatest predictor of divorce and must be eliminated.
According to an ONS survey, the number of divorces in the UK in 2013 was highest in for couples in their 40s, and a study of 373 newlywed couples found that those who show contempt towards each other in the beginning were more likely to divorce down the line.