Dr. Phil Says Fighting Style Predicts Divorce

ByABC News via logo
February 16, 2003, 8:11 PM

Feb. 17 -- If you want to know whether a couple will split up or stay together, observe the way they fight, TV talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw said.

McGraw, who spent four years appearing weekly on The Oprah Winfrey Show is now the host of his own hot new show, Dr. Phil.

The TV psychologist isn't shy about his his ability to pinpoint relationships in trouble. He says that he can tell with 90 percent accuracy whether a married couple is going to divorce within five years based solely on the way they end a fight, and that fighting style is a clear way that couples "absolutely seal their fate."

"It's not whether you fight or not, but how you fight,"McGraw said on Good Morning America. "The No. 1 question I would ask is how do they end their fight?"

One couple featured in an upcoming Dr. Phil show allowed a camera to be placed in their home for days at a time. After viewing the video, McGraw said that they were headed for divorce if things didn't change. Whether they were arguing about clothes, money, family or any topic they did it in the same manner each time, he said.

Real and Relevant

"It appeared to me that you could take any subject, and you wouldn't even break stride," McGraw told the couple. "Isn't it true that when you're fighting about everything, you are fighting about nothing?"

The woman agreed.

His advice: Keep it real and keep it relevant. Fighting can be a great tension release, and good for a relationship, if done properly. That means sticking to the present and not bringing up old grudges.

"Fight about what really matters to you," McGraw said.

Often one partner will disguise what the issue really is. For instance, a husband who is upset about not getting enough sex might say that the problem is something else.

"He is not getting the sex he wants, so he feels rejected and hurt," McGraw said. "That is too dangerous to talk about because his ego can get damaged. So he talks about tricycles in the driveway, too much money spent."