According to the CDC, approximately 827,000 divorces occur each year. That equates to approximately 68,916 divorces per month, or 2,265 divorces per day. People divorce for a variety of reasons, but in our years of family law practice at Kevin Hickey Law Partners; we have discovered that there are several causes of divorce.
What Causes Divorce in Marriage?
Some of the most common reasons for divorce are infidelity, a lack of communication; financial difficulties, and sparing sex and intimacy sessions. Using data from 4,000 divorced adults, the Austin Institute for The Study of Family and Culture identified the top reasons; for divorce why people break up in the United States, which include infidelity by either party; spouse unresponsive to needs; incompatibility; spouse immaturity; emotional abuse, and financial problems.
Why do Couples Divorce?
There are certain characteristics in a partner or circumstances- the divorce causes- that may force partners to seek a divorce. You can no longer deal with your partner, and divorce may be your best option. When a couple feels they have given their relationship everything they have; they may come to the conclusion that it is time to end their marriage.
Do you believe this scenario could happen in your life? It’s not uncommon for couples to fight and reconcile until they finally split up. Don’t ignore your relationship problems. You never know, your relationship could be on a rocky path as well!
What Percentage of Marriages End in Divorce?
The picture of what percentage of marriages end in divorce may appear predictably low; however, in the United States, approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce. Not only that, but statistics show that most couples divorce within the first seven years of marriage. So, what is the most common year of marriage for divorce?
It is said that as a couple approaches their tenth anniversary, marital satisfaction increases. If you believe you know why people divorce or how many marriages end in divorce; you may be correct, but there are some reasons for divorce that you could never have predicted.
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What are the Causes of Divorce?
Social scientists and other scholars have long studied what causes divorce. Some have looked at easily measured factors that increase the likelihood of divorce; such as the age at which people marry. Other researchers, on the other hand, have gone straight to the source; asking divorced people why they believe their marriages ended.
We compared the findings of several of the best studies; compiled a list of the top divorce causes, and ranked them based on how frequently study participants said; those issues were a major reason their marriage ended.
Before we begin, it’s important to state the obvious: There are usually multiple reasons why a couple of divorces (which is why percentages for answers add up to more than 100 percent ). And these motivations are frequently intertwined. People are more likely to have extramarital affairs, for example, when they are experiencing other problems in their marriage; and communication issues exacerbate issues such as money disputes. Another complicating factor that you probably already know is that couples frequently disagree about what caused their breakup.
Even with the benefit of hindsight, it can be beneficial to learn what other people say about why their marriages ended. And, if you want to avoid the same outcome, it can be helpful to recognize; when signs of these issues appear in your own marriage.
1. Absence of Commitment
In several studies, people were asked to choose from a list of important reasons for their divorce, and lack of commitment came out on top. (In one study, up to 85 percent of participants gave this answer.) Interestingly, another study found that lack of commitment was also the reason couples were most likely to agree; despite the fact that one spouse usually blamed the other for not working harder to save the marriage.
Lack of commitment can appear hazy and difficult to prove (or disprove); particularly to the person being blamed for the problem. Outward signs are frequently associated with other reasons for divorce, such as extramarital affairs; a refusal to discuss the relationship, and a failure to work toward shared financial goals. That’s probably why so many people point to a lack of commitment as a major cause of divorce; they see it as the issue underlying a variety of more visible issues.
2. Incompatibility and Separation
All of the legislators who agreed on “irreconcilable differences” as the basic ground for no-fault divorce were correct. When asked why their marriages ended, a sizable proportion of divorcees say something along the lines of “we grew apart,” “we drifted apart,” or “we were just incompatible” (up to 55 percent in one study). This concept of incompatibility could include other causes of divorce mentioned in various studies, such as:
- A lack of common values
- Marrying at a young age (which makes growing apart more likely)
- Sexual problems
- Religious distinctions
Of course, many couples accept, even enjoy, their differences. Most successful marriages, however, are founded on a core of shared (or, at the very least, overlapping) interests, priorities, and values. Outward signs of incompatibility frequently coexist with other common reasons for divorce, particularly poor communication, which comes next on the list.
3. Communication Issues
Around 50% of participants in various studies cited poor communication as a reason for divorce, such as arguing too much and not being able to talk to each other. Again, communication issues can be the root of other reasons for divorce, such as disagreements over money and family responsibilities.
It’s easy to notice when you’re constantly arguing with your spouse. Even if the fights aren’t as frequent or as ferocious, keep an eye out for repeated arguments about the same topic or disagreements that never seem to be resolved. That could be a sign that you need help learning how to communicate more effectively with each other, such as through couple therapy.
4. Extramarital Relationships
Although infidelity (or adultery) was mentioned in every study we looked at, its frequency among the reasons for divorce varied—from about 20% in one study to 60% in others.
This wide range may reflect the fact that at least some divorced people regard an affair as the final straw in a long line of marital problems. Those other issues could be the reason someone seeks intimacy, excitement, or distraction outside of the marriage—or even as an unconscious attempt to provoke the other spouse into calling the marriage off.
5. Financial Incompatibility: Money Disputes
According to various studies, approximately 40% of people said that financial problems—specifically, complaints about how their ex-spouse handled money—were a major reason they divorced. We frequently refer to fights over money as “financial incompatibility” because they typically stem from differences in priorities and values regarding financial decisions.
When you and your spouse are financially incompatible, you will notice the following signs:
- One of you conceals information or outright lies about purchases or other financial decisions (like making investments or withdrawing money from savings)
- Neither of you consults the other before making large purchases or taking other actions that will affect your joint finances.
- When You are unable to discuss your finances on a regular (and calm) basis.
- You are unable or unwilling to set joint financial goals (such as budgeting and saving to buy a house, have children, or build a retirement nest egg), and
- You set financial goals together, but one of you consistently undermines them.
Unsurprisingly, research has shown that lower-income couples are more likely to cite financial incompatibility as a major reason for divorce. When there is less to go around — and more stress about being able to pay bills — there is more likely to be fighting over money. Of course, regardless of a couple’s income level, disagreements over money and property continue during the divorce process.
6. Abuse of Substances
According to various studies, between 10% and 35% of people divorce because of their spouse’s drinking or drug problems.
There are numerous indicators that your spouse may have a substance use disorder, including:
- Sleep, appetite, and hygiene changes
- Quiet behavior
- Mood swings that occur unexpectedly
- Paranoia or other behavioral changes
- Ignoring work or family obligations
- Giving up old friends or activities
- An unexplained desire for extra cash, and
- Difficulties paying attention or remembering things.
7. Domestic Violence
Domestic violence was cited as a major reason for divorce by between 15% and 25% of participants in various studies. In a study of older divorced couples, more than a third of those polled named verbal, emotional, or physical abuse as one of the three main reasons for their split.
Domestic abuse is viewed differently by men and women as a cause of divorce. Domestic violence was cited as an important reason for the end of a marriage by 42 percent of women but only 9 percent of men in one national study. This could be due to the fact that women are much more likely than men to experience intimate partner abuse, and victims of abuse are more likely than abusers to blame the behavior for their divorce.
8. Disagreements Over Family Responsibilities
When asked in some studies about the most important reasons for divorce, approximately 20% of participants cited marital conflicts over:
- How they will raise their children
- Responsibilities for child care and/or
- Other family and household responsibilities
It’s worth noting that at least one study found that women were significantly more likely than men to blame their divorce on these disagreements. (Older studies that gave participants a list of reasons rarely included conflicts over family responsibilities, possibly because many social scientists overlooked or made assumptions about gender roles in male-female marriages.)
Are there any “good” reasons to divorce?
You may be asking yourself, “Should I divorce my spouse or stay married?” The answer is entirely dependent on your marital experience. Every relationship is unique, and it is up to the couple to decide how they want to proceed. Furthermore, if you believe the relationship serves no purpose and only causes you pain, it is a wise decision to divorce.
How can couples therapy help you save your marriage?
If you are dealing with one or more of these issues in your marriage, you may be going through a rough patch right now. Now for the good news. Couples therapy can be extremely beneficial in dealing with any or all of these issues. Typically, couples seek counseling seven to eleven years after the onset of their problems. That can make it seem hopeless that things will ever improve.
However, if both partners are committed to improving their marriage, much can be done to improve their lives together and help them save their marriage.
No marriage is simple. Even the best-intentioned couples are sometimes unable to overcome their difficulties and end up in court. That is why it is critical to address issues in your relationship early on, rather than allowing them to become one of the reasons for divorce. Don’t put it off until they’re beyond repair.
Try everything you can before deciding that things are beyond your control, that there are too many reasons for divorce, and that it is time to give up. That way, you can rest easy knowing that you exhausted all options before taking the big step. Divorce is one of the most painful emotional experiences you can have, but it is sometimes unavoidable and for the best.
To preserve the health and longevity of your relationship, practice kindness, prioritize intimacy, go on vacations, and seek marriage counseling (even if everything is fine).
Frequently Asked Questions
What year of marriage is divorce most common?
While there are numerous divorce studies with contradictory statistics, the data points to two times during a marriage when divorces are most common: years 1–2 and years 5–8. There are two years, in particular, that stands out as the most common years for divorce among those two high-risk periods — years 7 and 8.
Why do most marriages fail?
Betrayal destroys all of the bonds that hold a relationship together: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Trust, respect, loyalty, and communication are all so shattered that many couples decide to divorce because they can’t get past the betrayal.
Do people regret divorce?
A third of divorced couples, on average, regret their decision to end their marriage. Avvo.com researchers interviewed 254 women and 206 men in 2016 and asked how they felt about their divorce. They discovered that 27 percent of women and 32 percent of men regretted their divorce.