What are some of the common reasons why a marriage can end in divorce?
Dr. Greg Cheney is an expert in marriage counseling at Valiant Couples Therapy and Consulting.
Five Reasons Marriages May End
- Not using a therapist that is an expert in marriage counseling. Too often couples try to heal their marriage on their own or through self-help books. These approaches are helpful in some cases, but not seeking out a therapist that is an expert in marriage counseling is one reason marriage can end in divorce. We seek experts for physical problems. Why would we not consider seeking an expert in marriage counseling if our most important relationship is struggling?
- An inability to manage conflict. Conflict is a normal part of any marriage, and conflict management is a skill all marriages need. Some marriages struggle to manage their conflict, which can result in the marriage ending in divorce. A relationship researcher (John Gottman) found that 69% of conflict in marriage needs to be managed and cannot be fixed. Unfortunately, some marriages end in divorce over 69%, but when they enter another marriage they discover a different 69% with their new spouse. The ability to manage conflict is an essential skill in any marriage.
- Broken trust and the inability to repair. Trust between partners is an essential aspect of any marriage. Unfortunately, trust is broken in many different ways in a marriage. Recovering from a breach of trust can be difficult, and some marriages end in divorce when trust cannot be regained.
- Infidelity. Infidelity comes in different flavors such as financial infidelity, emotional infidelity, and physical infidelity. Each can have a devastating impact on a marriage.
- Disconnection. Some marriages begin to experience disconnection and are unable to recover. Our society seems to reward an increasingly fast-paced lifestyle. Marriages where spouses have completely different schedules, can fall into the trap of not spending time together. They may begin to feel like roommates in their marriage instead of loving partners.
Family Finances Can Cause Marital Strains
After infidelity, financial issues are the second main reason for couples to get divorced. They can be due to debt by one or both of the spouses, differences in the way the couple handles money (one is a spender, one is a saver), secret investment accounts, undisclosed debt, hiding purchases, or financial disagreements on what should be a priority and what is not a priority.
Poor communication about finances can lead to stress in a marriage. I have many clients that come to me and tell me that they do not know what they own, what they owe, and if they can even afford to get divorced. If one person controls the purse strings and leaves the other one out of all information and decisions, it will lead to an imbalance and resentment.
Younger couples enter into marriages with a lot of education debt. Couples without debt can easily fall into debt by overspending on the wedding or the purchase of their first car or home. Older couples who have accumulated a lot of wealth but are not following a budget or have not created a financial plan can have as much strain on finances as younger couples. It does not matter how wealthy the couple is. Very high earners that spend too much will feel as much strain in the relationship as low earners who spend too much.
No Intimacy or Effort can Lead to Divorce
A number of things can contribute to a couple wanting divorce. Here are a few.
- Lack of communication. The primal reason for a marriage ending in divorce is a lack of communication. It is a red flag when a couple has nothing to discuss other than chores and necessities.
- Marriage without intimacy. Sexless marriage is another reason. Sexual and physical intimacy is the key to keep couples emotionally bonded. When they start fading, so does the marriage!
- Unwilling to spend time together. Despite being together, if the couple fails to acknowledge celebrations (like birthdays, anniversaries, or date night), it shows their unwillingness to spend time together. It is a threat to their marriage.
- No efforts are made for the distance. When couples become aware of their situation but are unwilling to bridge the gap, it highlights that they are in an inadequate marriage space.
- Toxic dynamics in marriage. Happy couples indulge in good listening skills. However, when good listening skills start vanishing, and toxic behavior like constant fights and the blame-game take over, the marriage will end!
- Finding solace in loneliness. When the couple starts feeling uneasy in each other’s company and prefers alone time, it shows an emotional burden in marriage. It is one of the key reasons to divorce.
Lack of Compatibility Can be a Red Flag
There are many reasons why a marriage can end in divorce. No one gets married to get a divorce. Usually, it’s things that the couple did not anticipate. It could be a lack of compatibility, both sexual or psychological. Financial problems are another big cause of divorce. Often the partners have very different ideas about money or different spending habits. Divorce can also result from differences in life goals. Perhaps one partner wants children while the other doesn’t.
Lack of Trust Can End a Marriage
Contrary to what may first come to mind, like adultery or abuse, the most common reasons why people end up divorced is due to a lack of trust on a fundamental level, as well as a build-up of life’s stresses. Distrust can be emotional, where a spouse does not feel like she can confide in and express herself to her partner and receive a sympathetic, empathic response.
It can also arise financially where one spouse does not share how income and assets are allocated and utilized. Financial stresses, such as accumulating debt and job loss, also contribute toward divorce, as do pressures involved with caring for and raising children.
Lack of Productive Communication Can be Destructive
It seems like marriages can end for so many different reasons. On the surface, that can be correct. However, when looking deeper at what those reasons are, you can usually find that communication was a problem at some point in the marriage to cause those other problems. If a marriage doesn’t have “productive communication,” then the connection tends to wane. In a marriage, there needs to be lots of talking.
Questions and curiosity help you not only get to know your partner more but have a deeper connection and understanding, which then leads to more intimacy. By having really important, and many times difficult conversations you will continue to make sure you are both on the same page, or allow you to know that you are on different pages to then know that you both need to work on getting on the same page.
Marriages end when you haven’t connected anymore and are on different pages. To prevent that, keep talking or start talking now!
Lack of Responsibilities and Respect may Encourage Women to Leave
Women divorced men because the men don’t act like the woman expects a man to act. The men leave all of taking charge of planning, organizing, and dealing with the day-to-day responsibilities and problems that arise in the home and family to the woman. The man always waits for the woman to tell him what to do and doesn’t understand how frustrating this is to the woman.
I have spoken with many divorced women who told me that when a woman always has to tell a man what to do it makes her feel like he is a child and she is his mother and she doesn’t want to be his mother. A lot of men don’t realize this. They think they are being non-controlling good guys and are surprised when their wives want a divorce. They don’t realize that a woman wants a man who can show his share of responsibility and make his share of decisions. She doesn’t want a husband that she sees as a child.
Domestic Violence and a Lack of Commitment are Serious Issues
Marriage is a serious matter, it is something that you need to swallow fully and not spit out if you don’t like it anymore. As a relationship expert, there are common reasons why marriage results in divorce, it doesn’t mean it’s common then it’s not serious. These are sensitive reasons, and some domestic violence and a lack of commitment.
Domestic Violence. Sadly, some relationships end because of abuse and violence. You should report your partner for doing such things, and accept the fact that it might end your marriage. You deserve freedom and to be loved, not just in papers.
Lack of Commitment. When you say you are married, you should be committed to your partner and your relationship. Whether you are experiencing happiness or sadness, you must learn how to cope and resolve issues to retrieve the relationship. But some are just lacking in commitment, and even resulted in third parties.
Time Changes Everything
Time. Time changes everything, including people, and sometimes personal and professional growth means that people no longer have anything in common. The resultant gap between who each party in a marriage has become and who they were can be just too much to overcome. It isn’t either party’s fault, and most marriages slowly fall apart because the wives and husbands aren’t the same people they were when they first met and fell in love.
Unclear and Unspoken Agreements are at the Heart of Divorce
There are a lot of reasons for divorce but almost all of them can be reduced to this: unclear and unspoken agreements. What I think you want or what I think you said could be very different from what you actually want or said. The result is anger, arguing, and the build-up of resentment. “S/he never listens,” then becomes “S/he doesn’t care,” and eventually it leads to estrangement and divorce.
Infidelity Causes Pain
The most common reason why a marriage can end in divorce is infidelity. When someone cheats it hurts their spouse in many psychological ways. Not only does it hurt them because of the betrayal but also because they are made to feel inadequate. They question if they were not good-looking enough, or if they didn’t do what their partner wanted, and ultimately blame themselves in a lot of ways. The broken trust along with the feelings of inadequacy are hard to overcome and heal from. As a result, this becomes a divorce situation and most divorces result from this issue.
Six Moments that Lead to Divorce
Here are some of the “final straw” moments that lead to divorce:
1. Abuse. This is the number one reason since many people fear for their lives and decide to leave after being abused.
2. Habitual Infidelity. I write ‘habitual’ because so many married people cheat and are forgiven, but when it becomes consistent and emotionally draining, many give up and leave.
3. Substance Abuse. Many people just can’t deal with a developed alcohol or drug abuse habit. It is destructive and brings about so many other issues, and these lead to divorce.
4. Irresponsibility. This includes not taking care of the kids and messing up at work. In general, it means not doing your part as a partner or parent.
5. Unavailability. Nobody wants to be married to themselves, and many people tend to get caught up in their jobs and other aspects of life and completely neglect their partner. This causes feelings of emotional starvation, loneliness, and in the end, the partner feels, “There’s no difference between me being alone and in this marriage anyway.” So they leave.
6. Finances. Lack of finances tests the love and bond of a couple and those without an extraordinary bond never survive this. This is the case especially if the couple was financially stable and the new financial issues are caused by one partner’s irresponsible spending habits. Many couples divorce, for instance, when the man is fired.
Differences in Lifestyle Can End a Marriage
We all have unique needs and want different things in life. When two people who want very different things get together, it could give rise to underlying tension, frustrating compromises, or the ultimate feeling of not being able to take it anymore. Things can worsen with one partner preferring a lifestyle that is all about being tied down to a city and a job while the other wishes to roam the world like a vagabond. At the end of it all, one has to be able to bridge the gap between one’s individuality and one’s commitment to marriage.
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