The most common reasons to get a divorce

Every divorce looks different, but there is some overlap in the top reasons people split.

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What's Inside

What's Inside

There are many reasons why spouses decide to divorce, and many of these situations can be painful. Divorce may be necessary to not only reclaim your happiness, but in some instances, maybe to ensure your safety or the safety of your children.

Below we’ll discuss some of the most common reasons, both circumstantial and emotional, why people make such a difficult choice. In the end, whatever your reason for seeking a divorce, know that it’s a valid reason and that you can find help and support to get you through this process.

1. Lack of commitment 

Anxiety and stress in a marriage can stem from any number of circumstances, including one spouse losing their job, conflicting views about child rearing or any situation that forces one or both spouses to compromise and, thus, experience some level of disappointment. These kinds of moments test a couple’s commitment to one another.

Real commitment means you and your spouse are dedicated to both enjoying the good times and overcoming the hard times. If one spouse feels the other isn’t on the same commitment level and they cannot work through this issue on their own or with the help of something like couple’s therapy, it can lead to divorce.

2. Incompatibility and growing apart

A common belief in Western societies is that marriage starts with love. In reality, there are many possible motivations for marriage: Some people experience pressure from their families, others are motivated by a desire for children and some seek financial security. This isn’t to say that love cannot play a role, but these other factors may result in the couple rushing into marriage faster than they would have otherwise. If a couple marries for reasons other than romantic love, they may eventually realize that their personalities or goals are incompatible in the long term and seek divorce.

Divorce is also a possibility in marriages born from love because people—and their feelings—change over time. Sometimes it’s a bigger issue, such as no longer wanting children. Other times it’s something more subtle, such as a spouse losing patience for the other in the minutia of their daily lives.

In the event of shifts like these, spouses may find that what they used to have in common and love about each other, they don’t anymore. Though it can be heartbreaking, this is natural and usually isn’t anyone’s fault. You’re a person worthy of love, and so is your spouse, and in certain cases, the bravest thing to do is to part ways.

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3. Communication problems

The backbone of a healthy relationship between spouses is communication. Whether during arguments or while carrying on your daily lives, it’s important to feel comfortable telling your spouse how their behavior affects you. If you trust your spouse’s commitment to your marriage, it is easier to talk to them about your feelings.

At the beginning of relationships, you may not disagree about much. You’re still getting to know each other, feeling excited, lucky and curious about what’s coming down the pike. As the years go by, hopefully you begin to feel more comfortable and secure with your partner. With that, often comes more honesty, which can lead to hurt feelings if you aren’t careful about the way they’re communicated.

If you and your spouse keep having heated arguments, it may be time to consider couples counseling. A counselor or therapist can help guide your conversations and provide strategies that are tailored to your specific relationship needs. If you do not feel an improvement after counseling, it may be time to begin thinking about separation or divorce.

4. Extramarital affairs

One of the most widely recognized forms of betrayal in a marriage is an extramarital affair. It’s a coping mechanism people often utilize as the culmination of many of the issues listed in this article (such as a lack of commitment, growing apart or unhealthy communication).

No matter the circumstances, affairs are indicators of serious issues in a marriage. Many spouses who find themselves in this situation first try counseling. Others may decide the betrayal is too much for them to overcome, separate and, ultimately, divorce. 

There’s no right or wrong way to handle this. Do what’s best for you and your family. 

5. Financial incompatibility: Money disagreements

Money is one of the most common reasons that couples fight, perhaps because no two people have the same spending habits and marriage often comes with major expenses. 

If you find that many of your arguments revolve around spending, consider hiring a financial advisor. They can offer strategic advice about your spending, saving and investing. If you’re still unable to reach a consensus with your spouse, you could consider a postnuptial agreement. This will ensure that your money is protected by allowing you to separate your funds, which might be the ticket to finding happiness and peace with your partner.

If you can’t agree to a postnuptial agreement and the stress over finances begins to outweigh the joy in your relationship, or if your spouse’s spending habits make you feel unsafe, you may wish to consider divorce.

6. Substance abuse and addiction

When someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, you may become so focused on helping them that you forget to prioritize yourself. You may also become frustrated with them and experience a wide range of other emotions. This is totally normal.

First and foremost: You don’t need to stay in a relationship with someone who’s struggling with substance abuse. Being the long-term partner of an addict is often very emotionally taxing. You must not lose sight of your own needs.

Second, substance abuse in marriage often leads to many of the other topics covered in this article: If one spouse is battling addiction, they may not be able to hold a steady job, which could lead to financial instability. They may lose the ability to communicate in a healthy way. They may begin to prioritize their addiction over their relationship, making them less committed to their marriage. They also may change in some fundamental ways, which could result in them drifting away from their spouse.

If you wish to seek a divorce due to your partner’s substance abuse or addiction, talk to a lawyer. They can provide non-judgmental support and expertise so you are safe throughout the process.

7. Domestic violence and abuse

Domestic violence affects an estimated 10 million people per year (one in four women and one in nine men are victims) and encompasses the physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse of any family member(s) by another family member. 

It’s often very difficult to leave abusive relationships. You may care about your spouse, hold out hope that things can change or feel afraid to leave. In some cases, the abusive spouse may control the couple’s finances or isolate their partner from friends and family so they feel like they have nowhere to go.

Don’t judge yourself if you’re struggling to leave, and know that you have options. There are always people for you to talk to and find help. If you don’t want to talk to loved ones, consider the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-SAFE (7233). There, you can reach free counselors who are trained in helping people out of unsafe situations of domestic abuse.

You and your children should feel safe in your home and with your spouse. Take advantage of the resources at your disposal.

8. Lack of intimacy

While many people think of intimacy as only sexual intercourse, there’s also emotional intimacy. This encompasses closeness, trust and love between spouses. Both types of intimacy are important in a marriage, and each can help maintain the other type of intimacy. Unfortunately, a lack of physical and/or emotional intimacy is a painful reality for millions of people in marriages worldwide. 

If you feel there’s a decrease in intimacy in your relationship, your marriage isn’t over. It takes effort to maintain intimacy and to rebuild it. It’s recommended to seek the help of experts, like couple’s counselors, who can listen and provide advice and helpful exercises.

Often parents will stay together longer than desired because they think it’s in the best interest of their children. However, if your marriage is not peaceful, loving or respectful, this can negatively impact your children as well as their relationships with both of you. This can also skew their perception of a healthy relationship. What’s best for you is also often best for your kids.

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Every couple will experience ups and downs in their relationship. You can work through some of this if you take advantage of resources such as couple’s counseling or therapy. However, it’s not a failure if you decide to end your marriage. That’s often a very difficult decision to make under any circumstances.

You may wish to consult a lawyer. Marble has experienced family attorneys who can answer your questions and help, whether or not you decide to move forward with a divorce. We’re transparent with our fixed fees so that you’re not hit with surprise bills. We want you to focus on what really matters to you, rather than getting bogged down by unnecessary stress over finances.

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Disclaimer: This article is provided as general information, not legal advice, and may not reflect the current laws in your state. It does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not a substitute for seeking legal counsel based on the facts of your circumstance. No reader should act based on this article without seeking legal advice from a lawyer licensed in their state.

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