As recently as 2011, nearly half of all marriages were ending in divorce, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the statistics paint an uninviting picture when considering holy matrimony, there are common precursors for divorce. Addressing common marital issues, such as financial woes and infidelity, help couples recognize their risk for divorce before things escalate.
Personality Differences and Incompatibly
Basic incompatibility is the leading cause for divorce, according to a survey compiled by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts in 2013. Some signs of incompatibility in a marriage can include mistrust, different goals for the future, constant fighting and lack of communication. In addition to causing conflict, incompatibility can lead to unfaithfulness and other serious difficulties within the marriage.
Disagreements over money management can range from minor tiffs on overspending at a fancy restaurant to blowing through a household savings account in favor of buying a new jumbo, flat-screen TV. Arguments over finances can be especially intense when one spouse brings in more income than the other or is unemployed.
Infidelity and Affairs
Whether a long-term affair or repeated cheating with different partners, infidelity can erode trust in a marriage. Extramarital involvement is the reason that nearly 50 percent of married couples seek couples therapy treatment, as reported by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy in its website post "Infidelity."
Communication styles are a major indicator of divorce, as noted by Preston Ni, professor of communication studies with Foothill College, in the Psychology Today article "Communication Success." Some everyday communication issues married couples have include constant complaining or nagging, mixed messages, interrupting each other and being judgmental. Couples may find that constantly encountering the same issues when attempting to communicate their feelings to each other results in a conflict that can’t be resolved.
Staying committed to a marriage “through sickness and in health” can be difficult when it becomes part of the couple’s everyday life. Mental health conditions -- such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -- can impact physical intimacy and strain the relationship.
The quality of the relationship before marriage, such as during the engagement or while living together, are strong indicators of a successful marriage. In respect to cohabitation, “a couple's more relaxed approach to marriage after cohabitation or pressure to marry after cohabitation," as noted by the Divorce Lawyer Source article "Causes of Divorce."
In addition to destroying basic trust, physical abuse in a marriage leads to resentment and even more serious consequences if not addressed. Mental abuse -- including ridiculing, verbally threatening, isolating and persistently acting hostile -- can also make it essentially impossible to have a healthy marriage. An abused spouse may find that ending the marriage is the only way to ensure that the abuse ends.
In the early years of a marriage, age can increase the likelihood of divorce, according to the Utah Commission on Marriage in the guidebook “Should I Work it Out?" Teen marriage has even higher divorce rates. In additional to emotional immaturity that can come with being young, age can also play a part in common marital issues that lead to divorce, such as limited education and lack of finances.
Couples from different religions or religious backgrounds can find that these differences in beliefs have long-term impacts on their marriages. Interfaith couples are at risk for divorce due to significant issues, such as conflicts over partner roles, according to Robert E. Emery, a psychology professor with the University of Virginia, in the guide "Cultural Sociology of Divorce: An Encyclopedia." The conflicts that arise from differences in religion can also impact how each spouse wants to live life, as well as how they choose to raise their children.
Time Spent Together
Spouses may not spend a significant amount of time together due to traveling, long work hours or being in a long-distance marriage. Over time, one or both spouses could feel that their relationship is no longer the top priority, and this can lead to marital dissatisfaction. The main contributor to breakdown in marriages is that couples aren’t spending enough time together, according to licensed marriage and family therapist Michele Weiner-Davis in the book “Divorce Busting.”
- Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts: Leading Causes of Divorce
- She Left, He Left: How Employment and Satisfaction Affect Men’s and Women’s Decisions to Leave Marriages
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
- Psychology Today: Communication Success
- Being Married to a Person with Depression or Bipolar: 6 Survival Tips
- Cultural Sociology of Divorce: An Encyclopedia
- Divorce Busting
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