It’s a terrifying thing to know that 100% of people go into marriage believing that they’re going to be the couple that makes it through the highs and lows, till death do them apart. Yet, studies show that 50% of all marriages end in a divorce1American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Marriage and divorce. American Psychological Association. Retrieved February 9, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/topics/divorce-child-custody. It seems normal to give up on a relationship at the first sign of struggle, especially when you can swipe right for a new companion. We don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but the reality is that marriage is difficult and divorces are more common now than ever before. However, that doesn’t mean that you and your partner have to follow suit, even if one of you is already hinting towards getting a divorce. Things can get better, and the process starts with gaining a little bit of knowledge.
Common Reasons for Divorce
While the reasons for a divorce varies from couple to couple, there are some repeat offenders in many cases. Keep in mind that many factors influence one’s decision to divorce, such as age, gender, and economic background2PPI, W. (2016, June 27). Socioeconomic patterns of marriage and divorce. Penn Wharton Budget Model. Retrieved February 9, 2022, from https://budgetmodel.wharton.upenn.edu/issues/2016/2/3/socioeconomic-patterns-of-marriage-and-divorce . However, to help you understand divorce a little bit more, let’s go over the most common causes for divorce.
Lack of Communication
As the saying goes, “communication is key”, especially when it comes to having a successful marriage. A large number of divorced individuals listed this one key factor as the top reason for their marriage falling apart. Unfortunately, it’s a difficult factor to overcome as you cannot force your partner to open up and communicate honestly, respectfully, and consistently. However, it is absolutely crucial for a successful marriage, as a lack of communication is often linked to many other problems in the marriage.
Sometimes, it isn’t the lack of communication that’s the problem but how the communication occurs. Poor communication, such as arguing too much and not being able to talk to each other, can lead to a buildup of many negative feelings and conflicts within a marriage. And when you’re so frustrated with the poor communication, it makes it even more challenging to have good communication with your partner. Alas, a vicious cycle often begins.
Unfortunately, we often hear this as a reason for someone’s divorce: we just grew apart. The truth is, people continue to evolve and change throughout their entire life, and the secret to a successful marriage is growing through those changes and into new chapters together. However, this can be easier said than done as many other factors may be playing a role, such as a lack of shared values, sexual difficulties, and religious differences.
Many people consider infidelity to be the final straw for their marriage. Others consider it to be the most significant indicator that things need to be different if the marriage is going to work moving forward. However, it is still one of the most common causes of divorce, as there’s no denying that it’s one of those difficult situations that are really hard to come back from.
Financial problems come in all forms, and all forms are a common cause of divorce. From disagreements to how money is spent to a lack of money creating a constant stream of unbearable stress, money matters when it comes to marriage. Just think about it: how many times have your finances been at the center of an argument? Certainly, most couples can think of a time or two – or twenty. Finances are essential, and when there is a lack of financial compatibility, there is usually the underlying problem of having differences in values and priorities surrounding financial decisions. The good news is that finances can be improved. But it starts with circling back up to the top of this list and communicating!
The number of divorces stemming from a spouse’s drinking or drug problem is higher than most people realize, ranging between 10% to 35% of all divorces3Addiction and divorce statistics to know during National Recovery Month. Our Happy Divorce. (2020, September 29). Retrieved February 9, 2022, from https://ourhappydivorce.com/addiction-and-divorce-statistics/. So, if you find yourself in this category, you are not alone. People are just less likely to discuss that this was the reason for their divorce openly. It’s also a complicated situation, with many variables that can come into play. However, as tough as addictions are, help is available for both you and your spouse.
Some common causes of divorce are more harmful than others, and that doesn’t always deserve a second chance, and one of those things is domestic abuse. Approximately 1/3rd of people listed verbal, emotional or physical abuse as one of the top three reasons they filed for divorce, with almost all of them being women4Advanced Solutions International, I. (n.d.). Domestic violence. Retrieved February 9, 2022, from https://aamft.org/Consumer_Updates/Domestic_Violence.aspx. Men are far less likely to cite domestic violence as a reason for their divorce ending. This is a difficult topic where general advice cannot be applied. If you are being abused, please reach out for help at the National Domestic Violence Hotline or RAINN.
We all have them! However, some conflicts over family responsibilities are more likely to be listed as a common cause of divorce, including childcare responsibilities, family and household obligations, and how to raise their children. In fact, approximately 20% of divorced individuals listed these family problems as the main reason for their relationship ending5Scott, S. B., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Allen, E. S., & Markman, H. J. (2013). Reasons for Divorce and Recollections of Premarital Intervention: Implications for Improving Relationship Education. Couple & family psychology, 2(2), 131–145. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0032025. Like most of the things mentioned on this list, having proper communication and mutual respect can quickly correct this problem.
Divorce isn’t always the answer to a damaged marriage. Many couples have been on the verge of signing on the dotted line, only to come back together stronger than ever before. Unfortunately, there are also several incidences where a couple divorces, only to get married again down the line – an expensive journey. Whatever your circumstances are, you do not have to throw in the towel just yet as there are many solutions available for struggling marriages, such as:
- Counseling (individual and couple)
- Marriage counseling is proven to improve
- Communicate your needs
- Spend more quality time together
- Make it a priority not to let everyday stresses, such as financial pressures, busy schedules and children’s needs to take precedence over spending one-on-one time together
- Understand what the main issues are in the marriage and create a plan moving forward
- For example, if finances are a struggle, create a monthly budget or strategy to get out of debt or speak with a professional who can manage your finances better
- Start over – yes, really.
- Sharpen up on your knowledge with some self-improvement/self-help books
- Invest in healthier habits and change negative patterns
- Sign up for an online relationship repair program
- Stop saying divorce – take the word out of your vocabulary
Every marriage is unique, and every marriage is bound to face a variety of problems or difficulties at some point in their relationship. However, divorce doesn’t have to be the answer if you’re simply willing to put in a little bit of effort. Yes, it can even be one-sided for now, as there are many marriage repair programs out there that are designed to work from this angle. But the end goal is to get both parties willing to work together to save the marriage… And it starts with tackling the number one cause of divorce: a lack of communication.
- 1American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Marriage and divorce. American Psychological Association. Retrieved February 9, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/topics/divorce-child-custody
- 2PPI, W. (2016, June 27). Socioeconomic patterns of marriage and divorce. Penn Wharton Budget Model. Retrieved February 9, 2022, from https://budgetmodel.wharton.upenn.edu/issues/2016/2/3/socioeconomic-patterns-of-marriage-and-divorce
- 3Addiction and divorce statistics to know during National Recovery Month. Our Happy Divorce. (2020, September 29). Retrieved February 9, 2022, from https://ourhappydivorce.com/addiction-and-divorce-statistics/
- 4Advanced Solutions International, I. (n.d.). Domestic violence. Retrieved February 9, 2022, from https://aamft.org/Consumer_Updates/Domestic_Violence.aspx
- 5Scott, S. B., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Allen, E. S., & Markman, H. J. (2013). Reasons for Divorce and Recollections of Premarital Intervention: Implications for Improving Relationship Education. Couple & family psychology, 2(2), 131–145. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0032025