Reasons for Leaving a Marriage

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr
Therapy can help some couples resolve issues that lead to divorce.

Therapy can help some couples resolve issues that lead to divorce.

Nearly 50 percent of first time marriages end in divorce, according to a 2012 National Health Statistics report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Knowing why marriages fail can help you avoid a divorce. Men and women do not always leave a marriage for the same reasons, so partners should take heed to the reasons partner's walk away and work to eliminate those causes.

Why Wives Leave

If you neglect your wife through indifference, withdrawing emotionally, failing to communicate or express affection and spending too much time away from home, she can eventually get tired of trying to improve the relationship and walk away, according to marriage and family expert, Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. in the article, “Why Women Leave Men.” She might spend years letting you know she is unhappy and requesting changes, getting more frustrated when those changes don’t happen. When she finally decides that change isn’t possible, she will walk away, according to marriage therapist Michele Weiner-Davis on her Divorce Busting website.

Why Middle-Aged Husbands Leave

Middle-aged men leave a marriage for three basic reasons, according to clinical psychologist Thomas Plante, Ph.D., in “Three Risk Factors for Mid-Life Marital Collapse.” Your narcissistic husband could leave because he feels he can do better and gain more excitement with a new partner, without considering you or the kids. If your husband has unrealistic expectations about life and marriage and is unhappy, he will leave because he thinks maybe he chose the wrong woman and can do better in a new marriage. He might lack moral fiber and leave because he had an affair, has an addiction or is addicted to porn.

Why Stepfathers Leave

Arguments over how to deal with and discipline stepchildren can drive stepfathers to leave a marriage, according to a 2013 survey conducted by Your stepparenting husband also will leave the marriage if he doesn't feel his efforts to care for the family are appreciated. Some study respondents stated the parenting role lacked clear definition or that the kids were out of control. Other stepfathers complained that the biological fathers made the job complicated, they felt overwhelmed by an instant family or infidelity occurred. Support your new husband's efforts by clarifying his role and helping him learn effective stepparenting techniques.

Destructive Marital Characteristics

Marriage relationships characterized by contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling are more likely to fail, according to marriage therapist and researcher John Gottman, Ph.D., in “What Makes Marriage Work?” You get tired of your spouse’s biting tongue, insults, mocking tones and failure to listen. You give up hope that things will improve, and you end up walking away. Either one or both of you may engage in these behaviors.

Successful Marital Formula

Meet each other’s emotional needs effectively, if your want your marriage to succeed. For your wife, that is typically conversation, affection, economic and financial support and honesty and openness, writes Harley in “His Needs, Her Needs.” For your husband, that typically includes appreciation, sexual fulfillment, domestic support, recreational companionship and an attractive spouse. Gottman adds that listening to one another, mutual respect, effective conflict resolution and five times more positive interactions than negative ones will provide an environment that encourages marital success.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images