marriage tips

What are the reasons for divorce?

Divorce is very common in the United States with almost half of all marriages ending in divorce or permanent separation. Commitment is a clear factor in why some couples stay together. There are times when divorce is necessary, but those in other circumstances often later indicate they wish they would have tried harder before divorcing. There are many factors that place a couple at higher risk for divorce. It may be helpful to know some of the statistics and findings outlined below.

What are the reasons for divorce?

Divorce is very common in the United States with almost half of all marriages ending in divorce or permanent separation. Commitment is a clear factor in why some couples stay together. There are times when divorce is necessary, but those in other circumstances often later indicate they wish they would have tried harder before divorcing. There are many factors that place a couple at higher risk for divorce. It may be helpful to know some of the statistics and findings outlined below.

Money

You see, there are a lot of reasons why people get divorced. Some studies cite communication issues, growing apart over time or domestic or substance abuse as primary reasons.

Rankings will vary from study to study, but one of the most common causes of divorce always centres around money issues. Money issues can make married couples crazy because money touches so many parts of all people’s lives.

No matter how much money you have (or not), there’s always the issue of money as a primary connector in marriage. That means it’s also a primary flashpoint for arguments and in many cases, a motivating factor in divorce.

Money issues can wreck a marriage in so many different ways.

Spouses who are reckless with credit cards can run up large debts without the knowledge of their spouse. One spouse can make considerably more than the other, creating earning/control issues.

Each spouse may have different ideas on long-term financial goals. One spouse wants to “live for today” while the other wants to put every extra penny toward retirement.

One spouse wants a new car every two years while the other is happy to drive any vehicle that is already paid off.

Money can be especially important to the degree that you don’t have it. When one spouse or the other loses a job, or significant unexpected financial setbacks take place (think job loss, health crises, etc.), it can cause a big squeeze on family finances that may last for months or even years.

Money issues cause stress. Stress chokes off communication. A lack of communication leads to breakdowns in trust. And the result is often divorce.

Money issues are tough, but the best way to resolve them is to create a budget and long-term goals and stick to them. Make a concerted effort to keep the lines of communication open regarding financial interests, especially during challenging times.

You probably won’t completely avoid disagreements about finances in the course of your marriage. But just like all other marital problems, if you face money challenges with honesty and as a team, your marriage has a much better chance of surviving.

LACK OF INTIMACY

Over time, marriages become less about physical contact and more about a transition to a deeper and more spiritual kind of love. That’s normal. Sex is still an essential part of every marriage at every step of the way, but intimacy is also much more than just sex.

Newsweek magazine estimates that 15 to 20 per cent of couples are in a sexless relationship. Studies show that 10% or less of the married population below 50 have not had sex in the past year. Also, less than 20% report having sex a few times per year, or even monthly, under age 40.

However, it doesn’t mean that intimacy should disappear from marriage even when the physical side becomes less frequent. There are other ways to be intimate with your spouse. You can show affection through small acts like daily kisses on the cheek, hugs, and holding hands, backrubs, and foot rubs, or even phone calls to say “I love you” from time to time.

Intimacy involves paying attention to your spouse. It’s the sign of a healthy marriage to ask about the type of day they’ve had, if they’re worried about something, if they’re hiding little nagging aches and pains, or if they want someone to listen to their problems attentively after a long, hard day.

When these small acts of intimacy go away, each partner may feel rejected. That can lead to a downward spiral in the overall quality of a relationship. Over time, this can blossom into intense feelings of feeling unloved and unappreciated.

INFIDELITY

Extramarital affairs are a pretty obvious reason why people get divorced. But surprisingly, a large number of married couples have dealt with infidelity issues and found a way to stay together.

That doesn’t mean you should roll the dice if you’re considering venturing outside the marriage.

The reality is infidelity fundamentally changes your marriage. It erodes trust and leads to a breakdown in communication.

Sooner or later, infidelity usually catches up with you, which is why it is one of the leading causes of divorce.

Even if your marriage does survive, it will be fundamentally changed forever. You will end up admitting to being a cheater, or you’ll end up carrying around a fair amount of guilt (assuming you have a conscience) for years.

People cheat for different reasons. Passion fades over time. The thrill with your spouse is gone, but the desire for thrills remains.

Sometimes it has to do with anger and resentment over something a spouse is doing. Cheating may take place due to a lack of self-esteem. At other times, it may be something as simple as a difference in sexual appetite or a lack of intimacy that needs to be satisfied.

Infidelity may also start as a casual relationship that evolves into an emotional affair, and then becomes a physical affair. That is often the case with people in work situations who spend large amounts of time together.

According to Divorce Statistics, 22% of men have committed at least one act of adultery in their lives. Also, 14% of married women have had affairs at least once during their lives. As many as 36% of men and women have admitted to having a relationship with a co-worker. And, 70% of married women and 54% of married men did not know about their spouses’ infidelity.

ABUSE

If there is a pattern of domestic abuse in a marriage, that’s certainly a valid reason to walk away from your marriage.

Many people think that abuse is only physical, but emotional and financial abuse are also quite common. Yelling, neglect, constant displays of anger, withholding money, vulgar comments, and other negative displays can be just as damaging.

Abuse is not just directed at a spouse, either. Children, grandparents, brothers and sisters, friends, or other people who live in the same home for any reason can be targets of abuse as well. Threats to their wellbeing are just as concerning as any threats to a spouse.

In some cases, a marriage may just be going through a rough patch (as many marriages do), and any abuse may be out of character. Counselling, in this case, might be appropriate with the goal of repairing a marriage.

In some cases, domestic violence may be coupled with external issues such as substance abuse, the loss of a job, or the death of a close friend or family member. In these cases, a person may be emotionally wounded and can be helped to heal over time.

However, in cases where abuse is physical and ongoing, especially when children are involved, being together can be dangerous. Getting away should be an immediate priority.

Staying in a chronically abusive relationship is not healthy, and it is not safe. If you feel threatened in any way, get help immediately from family members, law enforcement, and social services agencies in your community.

LACK OF COMPATIBILITY

When you got married, you were sure your spouse was the person you wanted to spend the rest of your life with. Everything clicked.

Anything that bothered you was minor, and you shrugged it off because you were deeply in love. You overlooked faults, differences of opinions, and interests. Those were all things you could “work on” together after you said, “I do.”

But even if your marriage started in total bliss and synchronicity, time always changes things.

People grow up. You both take on new challenges. Habits and interests change. Your careers move forward. You become parents. Perhaps you both modify your political and religious views. Local and world events impact your way of thinking. Tragedies affect you. Your circle of friends breaks up. New people enter your life, and you like them, but your spouse may not.

Change is inevitable. Change is necessary. And in many cases, change is healthy. Like it or not, if you have been married for any amount of time, the person you are now is not the person you were back then. The same goes for your spouse.

If you’ve ever gone from “We can do whatever you want. It doesn’t matter to me as long as I’m with you,” to “How come you always get to choose where we go and what we do?” then you understand what a lack of compatibility looks like.

In a healthy marriage, change is welcomed. It is celebrated. But in other marriages, change means growing apart. You no longer share the same vision for your day-to-day living or your future. You no longer share the same passions that you once did.

Your circle of friends changes. More often than not, you do “your thing,” and your spouse will go off and do “their thing.” It’s unfortunate. But it happens more often than you might like to think.

At some point, spending time together is overtaken by the priority of wanting to spend time alone. That’s why many households have two or more televisions, dens, mancaves, she-sheds, and other places of sole refuge in the home.

That lack of compatibility often leads to lots of arguments. Things that used to roll off your back don’t any longer. You are constantly unhappy. You go from having great expectations to just seeking a way out. And in some cases, distancing yourself from your partner may also lead to acts of infidelity as you try to replace what you’ve lost in your marriage.

ADDICTION

When you think of addictions, you probably think of drug or alcohol abuse.

But addictions come in many forms. All of them can threaten the very survival of a couple staying together.

When couples grow apart, they may turn to other addictions such as gambling, pornography, uncontrollable spending, or infidelity. An addiction can take control of a spouse’s life and put them in danger of losing their jobs, friends, and marriage.

When addiction is present in a marriage, it will cause a spouse to lie, cheat, steal, or otherwise betray the foundational trust that a marriage is built upon. It’s no wonder that addiction is one of the most common causes of divorce.

With treatment, many addictions can be addressed. But it requires focus and commitment if a person is serious about saving their marriage and their family relationships.

If you’re struggling with addiction, don’t be afraid to get professional help to overcome these types of challenges.

GETTING MARRIED AT AN EARLY AGE

One big reason couples cite for getting a divorce is not being fully prepared for what marriage is all about.

Divorce rates are highest for couples who are in their 20s, and almost half of all divorces take place within the first ten years of marriage.

Marrying too young can cause divorce for many reasons.

Couples who get married at an early age are more likely to face more money issues because their careers are not established yet. In some cases, they have not matured and do not understand how to communicate effectively. Without experience to guide them, a lack of maturity will often overtake a calmer approach to marital problems.

Young marriage problems can be further aggravated when a couple decides to have children at an early age as well. The amount of energy, effort, and financial resources required to engage in parenting can challenge a couple at any age. But when parents are still children themselves in some ways, the burdens of being a parent are overwhelming.

Getting married later in life means you have experienced more of what life is about. You tend to draw on more experiences and have a better understanding of how to deal with hardship.

You have also been living on your own for a more extended period, so you better know what is required to meet the demands of living day-to-day.

If you have been financially prudent and saved for those inevitable rainy days that are sure to come, you’re in a better position to calmly react to setbacks, instead of lashing out and undermining your marriage.

GETTING MARRIED FOR THE WRONG REASONS

Some people who get married have unreasonable expectations about what marriage should be about, and they wind up bitterly disappointed when the fairy tale does not match up with reality.

Living “happily ever after” requires constant work. But there is a difference between putting in the work and putting on the pressure with your spouse to make your marriage all that it can be. If there is a constant tension between you, sooner or later, cracks in your relationship will appear, and your marriage will be on the rocks before you know it.

All marriages have ups and downs, but there should be a natural flow and order to your relationship as well. You should be able to feel and see that flow during the courtship process; otherwise, you could be getting married for the wrong reasons.

The other person’s imperfections may blind you. You could be taken by how attractive they are, overlooking other character flaws. They may have a drinking or drug problem, and you may want to marry them to save them. Occasionally those reasons work out, but most just on the Hallmark channel…not in real life.

If you wake up a few years down the road and realize you’ve gotten married for the wrong reasons, it may be time to cut your losses and move on. Nobody should actively advocate for divorce, but there are times when divorce is best for both people.

Sometimes, you make mistakes. Things simply don’t work out. There is no cut and dried formula for this situation.

But if you force the issue to make a marriage work for the “right reasons” that are in your head, it will lead you to coerce, argue, blame, nag and criticize your partner until they change (not likely) or until you go your separate ways.

CONCLUSION

While no one can anticipate all the changes and circumstances that will impact a marriage in the future, singles interested in marriage do well to make the best choices they can at the start in preparing for a successful marriage (read more, here). And those who are married and happy who want to avoid divorce in the future have ways to strengthen and build on what they have (read more, here.) We all know that it takes two people to make a good marriage last. One person cannot make it happen without the other person also being willing to invest and grow. As mentioned already, it’s easiest after the fact for each individual to believe that their ex is the one who failed the dance. But to make a marriage last, it’s going to work best if each spouse is focused on the mantra my colleague Howard Markman and I push: “do your part.”

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