“Happily ever after…” The words sound magical. When taking the wedding vows, we look forward to a fairytale life with our partner. It is only after a couple of years, in some cases just a few months, that reality sets in. Those romantic outings, date nights, and red rose bouquets all seem to have happened in some distant past.
Many of us come out of fantasies and accept reality because there still are certain good things in our marriage. But there are some who would feel suffocated in the relationship and see divorce as the only solution for their marital problems.
But what are the causes of divorce? Are people’s reasons valid enough or do they simply want to find a way out of the relationship? MomJunction gives you the top reasons for divorce and explains the legal grounds on which divorce is granted.
21 Most Common Reasons For Divorce:
Statistical bulletin Divorces in England and Wales 2011 says: “The probability of getting divorced by the next wedding anniversary rises rapidly in the first five years of marriage so that between the four and eighth wedding anniversaries the probability of getting divorced by the next anniversary is over 3%.
After the eighth wedding anniversary, the probability of divorcing decreases from this peak, and by the 26th anniversary, the chance of divorcing by the next anniversary is less than 1%.” Here are the most common reasons for divorce:
1. Extramarital affairs:
You may have promised your spouse to be loyal to him forever and he may have vowed the same to you. Down the years, these promises could get blurred. You or your husband may have met somebody who generated interest in you or you thought he was giving you something that you expected from your husband.
According to a study (1), 27% of divorces happen due to cheating. Infidelity will leave a long-lasting scar on a person’s psyche, and may make him suspect his future partner as well.
No matter how much you love each other, you need to be practical and calculate your finances. The initial days could be smooth, but once you burn up your savings, you will realize that life is not all cool. If your husband is unemployed, or you have a mounting loan, you could be so bogged down by money matters that you cannot see any love lost between you two.
Also, if you believe in savings for your future and your husband is a spendthrift, it creates a rift.
3. Physical and emotional abuse:
This is a serious problem, which makes it necessary for the victim to end the marriage. In fact, 34% of the divorces take place due to verbal, physical, or emotional abuse. The scars are visible in physical abuse, but the marks left by verbal and emotional torture are invisible yet agonizing. In some cases, both the husband and wife could be abusive, hurling expletives, and hitting each other.
4. Lack of communication:
We tend to get so busy with our children and careers that the most important person in our life gradually becomes the least important. We hardly get time to talk to each other. When was the last time you told him that you love him? We take things for granted until the relationship reaches a point of no return.
If communication gap is the only cause for divorce, it is better sorted out through professional counseling than through divorce.
5. Not meeting the expectations:
So, if you thought that your husband will be a Greek god forever, you will be disappointed to know that he cannot always be as handsome and neat as he was when you were dating him.
Also, back then he would have been the perfect guy out of a Hollywood movie, being chivalrous or personifying orderliness. A few months into marriage you could realize that he can also be unorganized – in fact, more often than not.
Alternatively, your husband might have wanted you to maintain an hourglass figure even after having children, but you have gained so much weight that he is disappointed in you.
Changes are common in a marriage. Minor expectations can be given a go-by if more important ones such as love, trust, and understanding are strong.
[ Read: Marriage Annulment ]
One of the serious causes for divorce, alcohol, or drug abuse batters a family beyond repair. It takes a toll on your relationships, career, finances, and children. Addictions force the person to lie to his loved ones, steal money, and be abusive at home, which could be dangerous for your well-being.
7. Parenting styles:
You are a strict disciplinarian who cannot tolerate misbehavior from children; he is a cool dad who is fine with breaking rules as he thinks it is okay to relax rules now and then. Children would drift towards him and may not realize that you are strict because you love them and want them to be on the right path.
This could begin as a minor tussle, but if not nipped in the bud, it could grow to the extent that you would want to separate from your husband to bring children on to your side.
Your dreams and aspirations are different from his. You may believe in working hard and making enough wealth to sit back and enjoy later in your life. He may want to take life as it comes and live by the moment. You might think him to be too casual in life, and he might see you as a person who takes life very seriously. Unless you draw an intersection somewhere, your life could run parallel to his.
9. When love is not the foundation:
If you enter into the relationship, not because of love for each other but something else, then the marriage will end once you meet your materialistic goal. If you have married him because he is hot or a craze among women, or if he has married you for your wealth, then the foundation is not strong enough to stand the test of time.
10. Insincerity and dishonesty:
If your marriage happened due to reasons other than love or love has slowly disappeared from your relationship, insincerity creeps in. You are there with him because you have to be there for your children or your finances or for the social status that your marriage has bestowed on you.
Similarly, if either one of you is dishonest with the other, the marriage is bound to develop cracks and eventually break. Imagine you sharing all your financial details such as bank accounts and passwords with him, and he betraying you one day. It could be devastating not just financially but also emotionally.
[ Read: Parenting Styles You Must Know ]
11. Losing your identity:
You are a wife, a mother, a daughter-in-law, and more but are you YOU? A decade after marriage, when you look back and see the traces of yourself getting completely erased, you realize what you have lost in life. It gets worse when your husband and family do not recognize your sacrifices for them.
This need not lead to a divorce. Talk to your spouse, explain to him how you have lost your original self and why you want to get back to what you have been previously. He will understand if he values your contribution to his life.
12. Immersed in responsibilities:
Children are of utmost importance to you. Anything or anybody comes only after your kids. They demand every minute of your life when they are babies, as kids, they need your help in education, teenage is the most delicate phase when your children need all your support.
[ Read: How To Tell Children About Divorce ]
If you are a working mom, then balancing your job and children will leave you with no time for your spouse. Your regular weekend dates or candle-lit dinners that you had in the early days seem to have happened in a bygone era.
You can always make efforts to bridge that gap between your husband and you, provided love and affection are still alive in your relationship.
13. Lack of physical intimacy:
How many times in a week do you have sex with your husband? When was the last time you had some intimate moments with him? Apart from sex, there are also other minor physical affections such as kissing or hugging that you miss doing in your daily life.
This could gradually lead to a gap that cannot be filled anymore. Act before you reach that situation.
14. A point of no return:
Conflicts are common in a relationship. Probably, they are required for a healthy marriage. But what if they happen very often and on frivolous issues? It spreads so much unpleasantness in your lives that your relationship becomes irretrievable.
15. Long distance relationship:
Physical distance can lead to misunderstandings, suspicion, and lack of communication. You would suspect him if he doesn’t pick up your call, or respond to your messages. Initially, you would understand him, and he would accept your unresponsiveness but the two of you may not be able to bear all this for longer!
[ Read: How To Be A Good Husband ]
16. Thirst for control:
If you want to dictate terms to him or if he wants to control everything in your life, then there will only be unpleasantness in your lives. The more intrusive you become, the more stubborn he gets.
17. Connection with your ex:
Being in touch with your ex-boyfriend or husband is fine. But if it goes beyond a simple hello and he peeps into your life too often, it builds up tension in the relationship with your husband.
18. Children from previous marriage:
You knew he has children from his previous marriage, he knew your children will be with his after you two are married. It looked all fine before marriage as you both thought it wasn’t difficult to have a blended family. But reality bites in only after you all begin living together.
19. Interference of parents:
Your mother-in-law takes daily updates from her son or your mother gives you guidance classes on what to do with your husband. They stay with you and interfere in every conversation that takes place between you and your partner. It is annoying to have somebody poking their nose in your affairs. You require their guidance as they are more experienced than you, but at the same time they cannot fill up every moment of your married life with their presence.
20. Jealousy and insecurity:
One pretty young girl winked at your husband in the last night party and you could not sleep after coming home. Or he has stopped kissing you before going to work and messaging you after he reaches office. He does not receive your phone call and does not bother to explain why he could not take your call. He keeps his phone locked with a password, secretly reads his messages and giggles at them. Valid enough reasons to get insecure? If you build up on such things, you will head towards divorce, but if you talk it out with him or make an attempt to probe these further, you may still have a chance to save your marriage.
[ Read: How Can You Keep Intimacy In Marriage ]
21. Cultural backgrounds:
Cultural differences could be a bone of contention for newly married couples. When you are in love you do not have to bother about your lover’s traditions and practices, but once you become a family, you are expected to accept them. The matters can worsen if you two are from two different religions and are tightly bound to your respective practices.
Risk Factors For Divorce:
Any marriage can result in a divorce if there is no rapport, trust, understanding, and love between the couple. However, certain marriages carry a higher risk. According to a report (2), here are those riskier marriages:
1. Young age:
Early marriages, usually teen marriages, are more likely to end in divorce especially in the initial years. The risk lowers once the couples reach their 20s as they tend to become more mature.
Couples who are less educated have higher chances of getting divorced. For instance, those with college education are better placed than those who ended their education at higher secondary level.
3. Low income:
According to research, people with annual income of less than $50,000 are more likely to seek a divorce than those with incomes higher than that. Needless to say, finances or lack of them creates a rift between the couple.
4. Living together before marriage:
Living together before marriage deprives you of all the excitement of getting married and being with your spouse. There is no difference in the life before and after marriage, and there is nothing new. You cannot understand the importance of marriage or understand the need for commitment.
The risk of separation is even higher for individuals who live in with multiple partners.
5. Parenthood before marriage:
Imagine having a child even before you have decided to marry. You live in with your partner, bear a child, and have to marry only to make that birth a legitimate one. How long can you sustain in such an arrangement, just for the baby’s sake? Most such parents separate by the time the child goes to school.
In the US, 37% children are born out of wedlock.
[ Read: Toxic Relationship Symptoms ]
6. No religious beliefs:
Every religion puts certain restrictions on our behavior and moral conduct. For people who do not follow any religion, those constraints are not there.
7. Parents’ divorce:
If your parents are divorced, and you are not brought up in an ideal familial environment, you may not understand the importance of relationships. Divorced parents double your risk of divorce. And if your spouse, too, has separated parents, then your chances of divorce triple.
These could be some of the leading causes for divorce. But that does not mean that you are bound to fail in your marriage. You may have to work harder than others to make your relationship work. And if your feelings for each other are strong, no factor can be a risk for you.
[ Read: Life After Divorce ]
Legal Grounds For Divorce:
You do not get a divorce just because you are no more willing to live with your spouse. The court seeks you to prove that you have irreconcilable differences in your marriage. (3).
Each country has its own laws on divorce. Within the US, the laws differ among the states. However, certain reasons are recognized by most of the countries as valid grounds for divorce.
In North America, the legal grounds are segregated into ‘For-fault’ and ‘No-fault’. As the names suggest, ‘No fault’ or ‘Uncontested’ is where none of the two has wronged and the separation is mutual while ‘For fault’ is a situation where the wife or husband has done something wrong to the other.
Here are the common grounds on which you can file for a divorce:
1. Irretrievable breakdown:
This is a no-fault reason, wherein both the husband and wife agree to separate legally. You can get a divorce once the custody of your children, division of properties, child support, etc., are settled or mutually decided.
2. Separation for one year:
If you are living separately from your spouse for one year, it is a valid reason for divorce with mutual consent. Living separately need not always mean living at a different place. You both can live under the same shelter yet not live like a couple. However, the latter case is difficult to prove in the court.
In England, the minimum period of separation is two years.
3. Separation for two years:
Separation from your spouse for two years or more is a reason enough to get divorce, even if your partner does not consent to it. In England, this period is five years.
4. Desertion or imprisonment:
If your spouse has abandoned you or you have sent him out for more than one year, then desertion is a ground for divorce. It is two years in England. If your spouse has been imprisoned for three years or more, then it is acceptable grounds for divorce.
[ Read: How to Deal with Abandonment Issues ]
You can cite an abusive relationship for seeking divorce. You can petition that your spouse has been cruel, abusive and violent, and meting out inhuman treatment (including forceful sex). However, the court may seek evidence on this, as the divorce would be a contested one.
In case your husband is having an extra-marital relationship, you can get divorced. However, this will not work out if you knew about his adultery but continued to have a relationship with him, you have encouraged him into doing it, or you have cheated on him. However, adultery can be a ground for divorce.
In England, same-gender sex is not considered adultery. This holds good even if yours is a same-sex marriage (4).
Adultery is something difficult to prove as you need a witness to testify and your testimony is not accepted.
7. Health conditions:
In a few countries, health conditions such as impotency and insanity, which have not been revealed at the time of marriage, are considered a accepted reasonable ground for divorce.
[ Read: Effects Of Divorce On Children ]
Biblical Reasons For Divorce:
There are scriptural grounds for divorce. Religious scriptures help believers to live in harmony. They do not encourage the breakdown of families. Bible asks its followers to confess any wrong-doings, forgive the wrong-doers, and try to restore the relationship through counseling.
However, the New Testament recognizes two grounds for divorce: adultery and desertion (5).
Divorce is a difficult phase in life, and drains you and your spouse physically, emotionally and sometimes financially as well. This needs to be the last resort to restore peace in your life. If you have children, they become an important part of your decision to get legally separated.
Taking professional advice will help you wade through these difficult times.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many or what percentage of marriages end in divorce?
In the US, nearly 42% of marriages that happened between ages 15 and 46, ended by the time women turned 46 years (6). Statistics in the UK show that 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce (7).
As per the data collected by Wikipedia, (8) Belgium has the highest rate of divorce at 71%, Portugal 68% and Hungary 67%. Several other European countries have a higher divorce rate than the US. Chile has the lowest at 3%.
[ Read: How To Deal With Narcissistic Partner ]
2. What is the most common or the number one reason for divorce?
According to a study by Harvard University, the biggest reason for divorce is the husband’s employment status. Therefore, men who do not have a full-time job are more likely to get divorced than those with full-time employment.
Accountancy firm Grant Thornton has found that the primary reason for divorce in the UK is being out of love with the spouse. You are no more in love with your spouse, and so want to come out of the relationship.
Research done by Austin Institute says that the most common reason for women to divorce is emotional abuse (37%), while for men (more than 30%) it is getting ‘tired making a poor match work’. (9)
What are your views on divorce? What do you think are the reasons for high divorce rate? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below.
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