There are many causes or factors that lead to divorce and it is fair to say that there is no one cause for any divorce. But there are factors that I have continued to see that have caused marriages to fail and end in divorce. Here are some of the most common:
- Commitment. If both parties are not committed to the marriage it will most certainly put an end to the relationship and be what I would consider to be the #1 cause for divorce. A marriage is a partnership and it takes both parties’ commitment to make it work.
- Communication. Couples often site lack of communication as a cause of divorce. One party doesn’t feel “heard” by the other party. One party refuses to communicate when conflicts arise. During marriage both parties need to communicate to each other their feelings, needs, wants and fears. They need to feel that they are heard, understood and supported by the other party. When couples are committed to the relationship communication challenges should not be a reason to divorce. Instead couples should seek a therapist to help them learn to communicate with each other.
- Finances. Many couples divorce because of money issues. Especially when money becomes a breakdown in trust because one spouse spends and runs up credit card charges without telling their partner. I have had to divorce couples when one spouse put the parties financial situation in such a crisis that it caused a bankruptcy. But if the challenges in the relationship are just about differing goals about spending and saving in the relationship sometimes just separating finances and budgeting can save a marriage, especially if the commitment is there.
- Lack of Intimacy. Physical intimacy in a marriage is important. If you habitually avoid being physically or emotionally close with your partner through escaping into work, television, computers or other activities, you risk creating a divide between you and your partner that may become impossible to breach. When couples have mismatched sexual needs or are unable to communicate these needs to each other it reduces the opportunity for intimacy. Intimacy is created through working together to understand your partner’s sexual needs or desires. Couples should communicate with each other their wants and needs and how each can help the other to reach a sexually compatible relationship that benefits both. When couples cannot achieve intimacy or sexual compatibility it will erode the marriage relationship.
- Infidelity. When one party strays outside the marriage, trust is broken and the marriage often is unable to survive. In order for the marriage to survive when infidelity has occurred it often requires lots of work with a therapist to rebuild the trust in the relationship. If one party is tempted to stray, they need to understand that this may lead to the end of their marriage. If the couple can seek help with a therapist before one party strays, the marriage is often stronger and they can rebuild the communication, intimacy and love in the relationship before boundaries are crossed because once the boundaries have been crossed it is more likely than not the marriage will end.
- Unmet and Unrealistic Expectations. A lot of couples come into the marriage with the expectations. That Husband won’t go out with his friends on Friday nights once you are married. That Wife will cook dinner every night. That both parties will help equally with caring for the children. Couples often expect the other party to act the way their father or mother did in their family growing up. Unrealistic expectations of the other party without communication often lead to arguments and dissatisfaction in the relationship.
- Addictions. Sadly alcohol or drug addiction often leads to the inability for both parties to live together. With the easy accessibility of the internet now I am beginning to see clients with addictions to pornography or on-line gaming. The addiction consumes the life of the partner. Only professional help and a willingness to recognize the need for help on the part of the party will offer an opportunity for healing and forgiveness. If your partner is involved in alcohol or drug abuse or other addictions, you should seek help from a support group designed for family members of addicts. This will give you the support that you need as you work through this issue.
- Mental Health Challenges. Mental health challenges and the lack of proper care and understanding about these challenges can end a marriage that results in divorce. When there are mental health challenges a couple needs to work together with professionals to help understand the issues. the spouse with the mental health challenge needs to be responsible with their medication, and or put in place the support systems necessary to be sure the mental health challenges are managed.
- Life crisis and Major Changes. When a spouse experiences a crises during a marriage it often triggers a desire for a change in life. This change in life can often result in the termination of a marriage. Some of those crises that destabilize a marriage are when a close family dies, a child dies, a life threatening disease happens to one of the spouses. Now we are all living longer our attitude of “till death do us part” has changed especially when we are faced with a crisis.
- Control Issues. Often in a marriage there are issues over who is in control. In an ideal marriage both parties share control or power in the relationship. However, when one party feels that they have “no say” or power to make decisions in the relationship it can lead to a feeling of powerlessness, anger and frustration.
- Lack of Common and Individual Interests/Values. If the parties find that they do not have things that they enjoy doing together they may find that they are spending time too much time apart. Couples that do not have the same goals or values will not form a lasting partnership. If one party feels that time with family should come first and the other party feels that work is the priority this can create conflict. It is just as important as having common interests to also have your own individual interests. When you don’t have your own interests or the opportunity to express yourself outside of the marriage relationship, it can create an unnecessary dependency or burden for the spouses or make the relationship become dull and boring.
If you are faced with any of the above challenges I recommend that you start by finding a good couples therapist. If you need a referral please don’t hesitate to call our office. Couples counseling has many benefits. Even if you have given up on the marriage still go to counseling together to say goodbye and work through the disappointments of ending the marriage. When I work with couples who have done counseling prior to divorce mediation, the case moves so much more easily. The counseling allows couples to work through their disappointment about the failure of the marriage or disappointment about your partner. This process is a much better place to grieve the loss of a marriage rather than in a family court room. By Carol Delzer, Attorney-Mediator, Marriage Family Therapist