Research indicates that one divorce occurs per an estimated 13 seconds here in the United States, ranking our nation sixth on a global divorce rate scale. These sobering statistics might discourage married or engaged couples who are striving to beat the odds, but it’s entirely possible to sustain a committed, fulfilled, and intimate union that doesn’t succumb to the agonizing reality of divorce.

Understanding the risk factors, then working together with your partner to counteract them, can help you divorce-proof your relationship and strengthen your connection. So which pitfalls contribute to an unsuccessful marriage? The data below offers more insight, so you can be proactive to ensure longevity and contentment with your spouse.

Divorce Is Most Common During the Early Years

An estimated 80% of couples are headed in the direction of divorce within their first four to five years of marriage. This startling, however common, trajectory is often because of decreased passion and excitement in the relationship.

As more financial, professional, and familial demands jockey for attention, maintaining that “spark” you experienced while dating can diminish in record time. Avoid this pattern during those first critical years of marriage by prioritizing emotional connection and physical chemistry on a regular basis.

Mental Health Issues Often Complicate Marriage

According to Science in Healthy Aging and Healthcare, if one or both partners struggle with depression, substance abuse or certain phobias, the risk of divorce often increases exponentially. This does not mean all marriages with a track-record of mental illness are destined for a courtroom settlement, but it’s worth noting the heightened challenges you may encounter if either spouse is suffering. Consider professional therapy to restabilize the marriage, communicate about the issue and learn to support each other’s needs.

Education Levels Can Impact Your Risk of Divorce

Academics can play into the success of a marriage. Based on divorce research, if you’ve earned a Bachelor’s degree, you have a better likelihood of a long-lasting marriage and spouses who both have a Bachelor’s degree are 10 percent less prone to divorce than spouses without a college education.

When each partner has the same academic leverage, there’s an increased sense of equality and efficacy in the relationship. Not to mention, you both are equipped to contribute more income toward the household expenses, which can safeguard your marriage from financial stressors.

Having Children Is Not Always a Marriage Solution

Among the most pervasive misconceptions is that a struggling marriage can restore itself once kids enter the equation. Approximately 50% of children in North America will experience parental divorce before age 18.

While the mantra of “staying together for the kids’ sake” often does prompt spouses to work through relationship issues, the assumption that child-rearing is a proven antidote for marital tensions can lead to more discontent in the future, undermining not just your partnership, but the whole family.

Your Parents’ Marital Status Has a Major Influence

If divorce is present within either spouse’s family of origin, their own chances of marriage instability, or even separation, will often double. This occurs because the individual was raised absorbing a message that commitment and unification are not sustainable over the long-term which gives them a defeatist attitude when problems arise.

While this cross-generational pattern of divorce can strain your marriage, it’s not doomed to failure. Break the cycle with trust, communication, and resilience when your instinct is to quit.

Sexual Initiation Can Become a Divorce Catalyst

Engaging in intercourse with multiple partners before marriage or becoming sexually active under age 18 can escalate the risk of divorce within your first 10 years of marriage, according to the University of Iowa.

This research suggests that promiscuous behavior as a young person is detrimental to the vitality of a marriage, but it’s often unrealistic that both partners will enter the union without a sexual past. So remember that prior experiences don’t need to dictate the health and frequency of intercourse in a marriage context.

The problems arise when past promiscuity causes trust issues in a marriage. Someone’s sexual past doesn’t necessarily foreshadow his or her future, but that may not stop the other person’s insecurity or lack of trust. “Make a decision to love by trying to let go of the past,”  the Spruce recommends. “Stop obsessing about the situation which broke the trust between you and your spouse.”

If trust issues persist, seek professional help. You need to work through these issues, or insecurity will perpetuate the issue and lead to paranoid, clingy behavior. In these situations, it’s important to be as honest and open with one another as possible. If it means letting the other person check your cell phone or email, that may just be what you need to do to build trust. This may make you uncomfortable, but it’s a necessary step if you want to make your relationship last.

Your relationship is worth protecting and fighting for, even in the midst of a culture which normalizes separation, divorce and broken family units. Knowing the statistics and how to avoid their repercussions could mean the difference between a successful marriage that grows stronger through the years, versus an unstable marriage that doesn’t stand the test of time. Just keep in mind: the odds exist, but they are beatable.

Just keep in mind: the odds exist, but they are beatable.

About the author: Maile Timon is a full-time blogger and content editor. She writes articles on lifestyle and family, health and fitness, education, business, how tos, and more. Maile earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking in Southern California.