When they say “I do,” most couples try not to think about the fact that 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Even though fewer people have been getting divorced in recent years, that’s likely because, despite a growing population, fewer people are getting married in the first place.
That means that even those in long-term relationships don’t have to go through a formal dissolution process, even if they’re experiencing similar problems to those who have been legally married – but what kind of problems are those/
While there are numerous reasons why couples consider divorce, there are several that lawyers and courts hear day in and day out. These five reasons top the charts when it comes to the causes cited in divorce proceedings.
It should come as no surprise that even when couples have found ways to overcome all kinds of conflicts and differences, infidelity on the part of either partner is a common deal breaker. Of course, infidelity often happens because there are other problems in the marriage that aren’t being adequately addressed, but the reality is that it can also be the very action that relationships can’t recover from.
Individuals are often afraid to share with friends or family that their relationship ended due to infidelity, even when their partner is the one who cheated. They may fear that it communicates something about their own adequacy as a partner, or may just feel embarrassed or ashamed by the situation. As such, it’s not uncommon for couples who bring up alimony with their lawyers to avoid discussing it in more intimate relationships.
2. Conflict, Arguing, And Abuse
Conflict and arguments are a normal part of any marriage, but normal conflict can become a major factor in divorce when it stops being healthy, focuses on specific issues that never seem to be resolved even with couples counseling, or pivots from mutual disagreement to emotional, verbal, or physical abuse.
Essentially, there is room for conflict in relationships, but when arguments overshadow affection and go from focusing on a particular problem to being an attack on an individual, it may lead to the dissolution of the marriage.
When individuals come to their lawyers to discuss divorce and raise concerns about arguments that have turned into abuse, this can simultaneously simplify and complicate things. The abuse victims lawyer will obviously need to take added steps to ensure their client’s safety.
However, according to divorce lawyer Rowdy Williams, “In cases of abuse, we are often able to secure added protections and benefits or nullify claims to alimony in the event of abuse. Alimony is not exclusively determined by financial circumstances, but also by other contributions or actions within the relationship.” And, of course, if there are children in the home and a spouse brings claims of abuse, it can impact child custody arrangements.
3. Financial Issues
Financial issues are another common cause of divorce, and this can take a few different forms. It may mean that you and your partner have different financial priorities, but it may also mean that you are both experiencing financial stress and this is bleeding over into other parts of your relationship.
Whatever form the financial problems in your relationship take, however, it’s important that you keep your long-term financial prospects in view. If you are both financially independent and doing generally well, this may not be a serious issue, but as many people who have divorced after age 50 and after having been out of the job market for a long period of time, you do need to consider your post-divorce financial solvency.
Addiction is a sadly common problem in the general population, and while it’s also quite common for one’s marriage to be a critical source of support and essential to recovery, not every marriage can survive a partner’s addiction.
In particular, addiction can lead to constant breaches of trust, financial issues, and other problems that, even on their own, can be predictors of divorce. Typically, when addiction leads to divorce, it’s because the couple has tried to navigate the situation together and, after repeated setbacks, feel that divorce is the only possible outcome.
This decision often falls most heavily on the sober individual in the relationship, but there are also times when couples come to this conclusion together, determining that divorce is in everyone’s best interest.
5. Insufficient Preparation
Getting married is a serious choice, and no matter how old you are when you make that decision, it’s easy to find yourself in a situation you just don’t feel prepared for. Still, this particular problem is more common in couples who married young, with about half of divorces occurring in the first ten years of marriage, and divorce most common overall in those who married while still in their 20s.
Despite being characterized as being unprepared for marriage, it might be both kinder and more accurate to say that young couples who divorce after marrying in their 20s just hadn’t fully developed their own personalities yet at that point.
Our frontal lobes don’t finish developing until around the age of 25 or 26 and most people are still developing a sense of identity in their 20s, discovering their interests and needs and defining themselves as independent individuals. So, while plenty of people who married in their 20s are very happy, the fact that the average age of marriage today is 32 years old is likely another contributing factor to the steady decrease in divorces.
Divorce isn’t often thought of as a personal or even societal problem, but when it leads to a positive outcome for those involved – as it often does – this isn’t really a fair description. People don’t pursue divorce lightly and most go to great lengths to avoid it, even if it means dealing with immense hardship and conflict for years.
Divorce is a hard road and people only choose it when the other difficulties they’re facing are more significant than those that would come with pursuing legal dissolution of their marriage.
When we recognize that, it’s easier to understand why people decide their relationship can’t be repaired and that it’s time for each person to go their separate ways.