Reasons for divorce vary for each unique couple and individual.
With nearly 50% of marriages ending in divorce, and nearly 60% of those divorces are classified as low-conflict, many want to know the causes and prediction signs that divorce may be looming.
Marriage is hard and historically has been, yet in our western culture, we treat it so lightly, much lighter than we used to.
So much so, we have graduated from the 7-year itch that was prominent 60+ years ago, and married couples now experience the 2-year itch, with the event of an affair taking place highest at this point.
Let’s be honest; if eyes are straying less than 3-years after tying the knot, are they really that committed?
Lack of commitment and contempt are just a couple of reasons for divorce that are so prominent in modern marriages.
In The Seven Principles of Making a Marriage Work, John Gottman discusses the numerous variables that make or break a marriage.
Divorce reasons vary, and here are the 9 biggest predictors and reasons for divorce.
Causes for Divorce
Marriage communication problems are a huge reason marriages struggle.
Nobody likes being criticized, and it is a huge cause of divorce.
Criticism can be one of the leading reasons for divorce
Criticism in relationships and marriages often attacks the person’s character or personality and not their behavior.
When we feel our character is attacked, we get defensive and feel less than others.
Not precisely the feelings needed to feel close and intimate with your partner.
Criticism in a marriage can be toxic, extremely hurtful, and create contempt toward one another, eventually eroding the marriage until it withers away.
For example, let’s say your partner went out with their friends for an evening out but didn’t tell you when they were going to be back; if you say:
” You were out all night and didn’t even bother to call me. You don’t care about anyone but yourself.”
That statement was a personal attack on your partner’s character and personality, which comes off as a general attack instead of a specific concern.
I mean, it’s not that you are wrong to feel that way; they may be selfish and didn’t consider your feelings, which is why there is a problem.
However, if you want to solve the problem, make sure you keep your partner open to hear you, lead with a less accusatory tone, such as:
” Hey baby I was upset when I didn’t hear back from you last night.”
Of course, a broken and wounded partner may still respond defensively, in which case there is a deeper issue where therapy is needed to help resolve those reactionary emotional responses so you can have healthier conflict resolution in the future.
Healthy marriages will have conflict, but instead of attacking the character, they address the behaviors and actions on how it made them feel instead of drawing them out to be bad people because of their choices.
Cut down on personal attacks and criticism if you don’t want it to be one of the reasons for divorce in your marriage!
Contempt is not good and is one of the more common divorce causes.
Once you’ve reached contempt, it can be hard to come back from.
When you feel contempt for your partner, you no longer view them in an endearing or favorable light.
Contempt is a feeling of disgust and disrespect toward your partner and can manifest into passive aggression, sarcasm, eye-rolling, and name-calling.
If you have contempt in your marriage, you no longer like each other.
Contempt is highly harmful to a marriage because it showcases a lack of respect, love, and value for the other person and the union.
This can create a massive gap in intimacy and emotion in the marriage.
When contempt is present in a marriage, emotional turmoil can erode the relationship even further.
Lashing out, name-calling, and insulting and responding with inappropriate sarcasm are all variables of contempt in a marriage that can gradually erode the relationship.
Contempt is the death of a thousand cuts for a marriage.
If there is contempt in your marriage, therapy is a must if you don’t want it to be one of your reasons for divorce.
Want to understand the dynamics of a toxic marriage?
5 Ways Revolutionary Road Portrays a Toxic Marriage
Defensiveness is a natural reaction when feeling threatened or under attack.
However, if it becomes a regular pattern in your marriage, it can lead to the eventual breakdown of your relationship and a big cause for divorce.
When we are defensive, we often deny responsibility for our actions, deflect, engage in what-about-isms, make excuses, and counterattack the other person.
For example, if one partner expresses their feelings about an issue and is met with:
“ That’s not my fault you always blame me for x,y,z” or “ Well, you’re always doing x,y,z” or ” What about the time YOU did x,y,z.”
This response is complete with avoiding responsibility, deflecting, and the ultimate what-about-ism that is so prominent in our debate culture.
Our culture has a really hard time hearing others’ perspectives and validating them.
We are great at making excuses and deflecting instead of acknowledging the issue and working together for a better solution.
It showcases a lack of humility and the ability to admit when you made a mistake.
When partners become defensive and repeatedly deflect, it can lead to a hamster wheel cycle of negative communication, making it increasingly difficult to find common ground.
Admitting our faults and where we messed up helps us become better people and partners; it’s what’s best for a long-lasting marriage.
If you don’t want defensiveness to be one of the reasons for divorce at the end of your marriage, learn humility, eat a slice of humble pie, admit when you mess up, and make it right.
Stonewalling in a marriage occurs when one partner withdraws from the interaction or the relationship altogether by exiting the room or shutting down completely.
This is damaging to a marriage because it can often make the other partner feel abandoned, ignored, or dismissed, which can prevent effective communication and problem-solving.
Stonewalling can also leave a partner feeling alone in a marriage; nothing is worse.
Which makes stonewalling one of the more common reasons for divorce.
When we stonewall, it is the epitome of turning away from your partner; studies show that the more you turn toward your partner, the more satisfied the marriage.
So if you frequently stonewall, this is turning away from your partner, which can quickly erode the foundation of your marriage.
A marriage must feel safe and secure to be healthy and prosperous, which means stonewalling has no business in a healthy relationship.
A stonewalling response is often passive-aggressive, fails to address any underlying issues, and creates massive tension between partners, creating a fragile foundation for the marriage.
People often use stonewalling or silent treatment as punishment, which can also be considered emotional abuse.
Stonewalling has no place in a loving and healthy marriage.
Lack of Commitment
This one seems like common sense, but many overlook red flags, hoping that a person will change and the relationship will improve.
Without enough commitment or effort into a marriage, it won’t possibly last, which is one of the more prominent reasons for divorce.
Lack of commitment in a marriage can result from many underlying factors that aren’t addressed.
Lack of commitment can manifest in a few ways, such as taking your partner for granted, not pulling your weight around adult duties, and taking more from the marriage than you give.
Workaholic marriage problems are prominent where a partner will prioritize their job over their marriage.
Cell phones and marriage problems can go hand in hand.
One study from Fight the New Drug showcased that partners who consume porn in their marriage are often less committed than those who don’t.
Which makes sense.
When you invite tempting variables such as porn into your marriage, it is harder to maintain fully committed and loyal to your relationship.
Porn is another variable that can make a partner turn away from their spouse instead of turning toward them, which we know we need for a healthy marriage to last.
Lack of commitment also manifests in the modern statistic that the 7-year itch is now the 2-year itch, meaning marriages are most at risk for infidelity only 24 months after the wedding.
Modern marriages are less committed than before, with 55-60% of divorces occurring in low-conflict marriages.
There is no abuse, addiction, or adultery, just two adults that describe themselves as bored, dissatisfied, or unhappy in their marriages.
Ironically, therapists urge couples to stay together and work out their problems in a low-conflict marriage, especially with kids, because children of divorce from low-conflict marriages endure the same trauma and psychological issues as children who remain in a high-conflict marriage.
That alone should encourage couples in low-conflict marriages to be more committed to each other for the whole family’s well-being.
Don’t let lack of commitment be one of your reasons for divorce.
Sexual problems after marriage happens a lot.
If you ask yourself, “how do you know it’s time for a divorce” infidelity is a big tell.
Infidelity is one of the messiest causes of divorce.
Look at my 10 Surprising Infidelity in Marriage Statistics, and you will see how prominent it is and how even people in happy marriages cheat.
Again, I know this one seems like an obvious tell on the predictor of divorce, but cheating is the ultimate red flag many people put to the side, hoping their partner will change.
I’ve seen this often in marriage groups, a couple that struggles with infidelity similar to how someone struggles with losing weight.
It’s a constant battle; no wonder it’s one of the most painful reasons for divorce.
Again in studies found by Fight the New Drug, porn consumers are more likely to cheat than those who don’t.
The mental stimulation is so high it causes the brain to constantly seek and reward novelty instead of your partner.
Essentially, porn trains the brain to seek more and more women, and it’s never enough.
This is why you hear from wives, “I don’t mind him watching porn, but now he has an Onlyfans account and is messaging women on Facebook.”
In my Porn Addiction: 11 Recovered Addicts Share Their Stories, men showcase the problems porn created in their health and relationships.
John Gottman found this:
“Many porn sites include violence toward women, the antithesis of intimate connection…. Pornography can also lead to a decrease in relationship trust and a higher likelihood of affairs outside the relationship.
Many porn sites now offer an escalation of sexual activity beyond simply viewing porn that includes actually having sex with other individuals.”
So consider that when pondering the idea of allowing porn in your marriage.
Cheating can often result from a character issue more than anything, which is why you have people who repeatedly cheat and then people who never cheat.
Cheating showcases the ultimate lack of commitment and care for the spouse and marriage.
Everyone, of course, is different.
However, it is my personal opinion that once a person cheats, especially before marriage, they are showcasing their lack of respect, love, and value for not only you but your relationship, and you must consider if it’s worth staying with someone who doesn’t respect or value you.
Remember, infidelity is a divorce predictor, so if there is any taking place before you’re married, unless there is intensive therapy involved so they can figure out why they cheat and prevent themselves from doing it, odds are, divorce is a big possibility in your future.
Everyone has reasons for divorce; if it ever came to that, infidelity is one of mine.
Infidelity is one of those strong reasons for divorce.
A dismissive attitude is one I often see in marriage groups and one of the biggest reasons for divorce.
Dismissiveness toward your partner’s concerns, feelings, or needs is selfish and self-centered, often harming the marriage’s well-being.
We have to consider the feelings of our partners to have a harmonious relationship.
Dismissiveness can often leave a partner feeling unheard and unsupported, creating a massive emotional drift in the marriage.
It’s also one of the most common ways we turn away from our spouse.
I see a lot in marriage groups and forums of women who aren’t happy with their husband’s porn consumption.
When they bring it up, their husbands dismiss their feelings and often add insult to injury by accusing them of being jealous or controlling; i.e, gaslighting AF!
I know I keep bringing up porn, but while writing this paper, porn seems to be the common denominator behind several divorce predictors, making these variables easier to give examples using porn.
We can’t dismiss our partner’s feelings, especially if our actions directly cause their hurt feelings.
Dismissing your partner’s hurt feelings is one of the surefire reasons for divorce.
You can’t have a happy and trusting unit if one person’s feelings are frequently ignored, dismissed, and not considered.
Being dismissive is one of those common communication problems in marriage.
Constant arguing is one of the most telling predictors and reasons for divorce.
I mean, want to argue all the time?
It’s emotionally exhausting and discouraging.
If you are always arguing with your spouse, you rarely can view them in a good light which can erode relationship quality over time.
Couples arguing frequently can quickly build resentment, contempt, and anger in the relationship.
Arguing frequently can also signify deeper underlying compatibility issues such as character, values, and priorities.
All variables are necessary for a harmonious and long-lasting marriage.
When you are constantly on the defensive in your marriage, you won’t have the energy or motivation to want to work on your intimacy or build trust.
This is why constant arguing is one of the more common reasons for divorce.
Lack of Intimacy
This, in my opinion, up there with infidelity, is one of the biggest reasons for divorce.
I’ve even seen in Reddit trheads lack of intimacy of any kind is one of the reasons men divorce their wives.
I’m not talking about just sex; I mean overall intimacy, like hand-holding, hugging, and giving compliments.
Sufficient physical, emotional, and sexual intimacy is vital for a healthy marriage.
When there is a lack of intimacy, it gives spouses the sense that they are simply roommates who live together instead of an intimate couple.
Suppose sex and intimacy are the only variables that separate a romantic relationship from a platonic one.
In that case, it makes sense why a lack of intimacy would be one of the reasons for divorce.
I saw all the time in the /Deadbedroom subreddit how much turmoil a lack of intimacy could create in a marriage.
It’s a slow death for many people in their marriages.
Many due to pretending like there is no problem.
Ignoring relationship problems in the hopes they will go away or just not be there won’t work.
Some have theses marriage problems after 15 years.
A lack of intimacy in a marriage can often lead to dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, loneliness, and frustration.
Suppose we aren’t getting our emotional and physical intimate needs met in the only socially acceptable way within the confines of marriage.
Many partners can feel trapped, cast aside, and helpless.
This makes sense now why a lack of intimacy is one of the biggest predictors and reasons for divorce.
Reasons for Divorce
If you feel you recognized some of these variables in your marriage, it doesn’t mean you are doomed for divorce.
And remedies for marriage problems vary from relationship to relationship.
When both partners truly love each other and are committed for the long term, you can work through these issues and become more assertive on the other side.
Remember, marriage isn’t meant to make you happy or be the ultimate romantic fairytale; it’s meant to have a lifelong and loving companion that is there to help you through the tough times, celebrate with you during your successes, and help you live out your goals and dreams to the fullest.
Marriage contains two broken and flawed people who commit to each other to grow individually and as a couple, hoping you can live a long and happy life together.
This doesn’t mean you remain in a high-conflict marriage for the sake of staying together; there are good reasons for divorce.
If you are in a lower-conflict marriage and recognize some of these reasons for divorce and feel all the love and commitment to your partner, you can come around stronger than ever, but it takes both parties.