“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 some might 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? We give 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. Over the years, these promises could get blurred. You or your husband may have become involved with someone who you thought was giving you attention or affection, 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 may be smooth, but once you burn through your savings, you will realize that this is creating a stress and rift in your relationship. If your husband is unemployed, or you have a mounting debt, you could begin to lose respect for him. Also, you may be so bogged down and worried by money matters that the love between you begins to decline.
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. Even though the abuser may proclaim this, no one ever deserves to be physically, emotionally or verbally attacked. The scars are visible in physical abuse, but the marks left by verbal and emotional torture are invisible yet just as traumatizing. In some cases, both spouses are abusive, hurling expletives and hitting each other.
4. Lack of communication:
You tend to get so busy with children and careers that the one that should be the most important person in your life gradually becomes the least important. You hardly make time to talk to each other anymore. When was the last time you told him that you love him? You may take the other for granted until the bond between you diminishes and reaches a point of no return.
If a communication gap is the only consideration for divorce, it is better sorted out through professional counseling than through divorce.
5. Not meeting the expectations:
If you thought that your husband would be a Greek god forever, you will be disappointed to know that he cannot always be as handsome and debonair 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 stability and efficiency. A few months into marriage you could realize that he is unproductive, unorganized or has difficulties in managing his life.
Alternatively, your husband might have wanted you to maintain an hourglass figure, even after having children. Unfortunately, you may have gained so much weight that he feels disappointed or no longer attracted to you.
Changes are inevitable in all marriages and it is important for couples to ride the wave of transition. Minor expectations can be given a go-by if the more important elements are strong, such as love, trust, and understanding.
[ Read: Marriage Annulment ]
One of the most serious causes for divorce is alcohol or drug abuse, which can upset and batter a family unit beyond repair. It takes a huge toll on your relationships, career, finances, and children’s emotional wellbeing. It is not uncommon for the addictive spouse to lie to his loved ones, steal money, and become abusive at home, which can be quite unsettling and even dangerous for the entire family.
7. Parenting styles:
Let’s say that you are a strict disciplinarian who cannot tolerate misbehavior from children and your husband is fine with relaxing or breaking rules now and again. Or, maybe you’re less strict parent. . Children often favor the less strict parent because they are unable to recognize discipline as being loving, caring and setting them on the right path.
If you are not united with your partner in how to discipline the children, arguments and disillusionment could grow to the extent of separation and breaking up the family.
Your dreams and aspirations are different from his. For example, you may believe in working hard and creating wealth so that you can both enjoy your later years. He, on the other hand, may want to take life as it comes and live by each moment. You might think of him as too casual whereas he might see you as taking life too seriously. This incompatibility can lead to disputes and discontentment within the relationship.
9. When love is not the foundation:
If either partner has entered into the relationship, not for love but for wealth, then the marriage will end once you meet the materialistic goal. If the decision to marry was made due to looks, charm or sex-appeal, then the foundation is not strong enough to stand the test of time.
10. Insincerity and dishonesty:
If the love in your marriage has slowly disappeared, insincerity tends to creep in. Perhaps you are staying together because of the children, finances or social status that your marriage bestows upon you.
Dishonest in a marriage is also bound to develop cracks in the bond, which will eventually break up the relationship. Imagine sharing all your financial details, such as bank accounts and passwords, only to be betrayed . This 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, taking care of them and their needs, but what about you ? A decade after marriage, when you look back and see the traces of yourself getting completely erased, you realize what you have lost is your sense of self. It gets worse when your husband and family do not recognize the sacrifices you have made along the way.
This need not lead to a divorce. Talk to your spouse, explain to him how you don’t feel validated or valued, and that you have lost yourself within this relationship. He will understand if he values your contribution to his life.
12. Immersed in responsibilities:
Children are of utmost importance to you. Anything or anyone is second to your kids. They demand every minute of your time throughout their lives as babies, children and adolescents. Healthy children require a mother’s love and devotion to their physical, emotional and educational needs. The teenage years are the most delicate phase as they need all of your support.
[ Read: How To Tell Children About Divorce ]
If you are a working mom, then balancing the responsibilities of 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 yourself by keeping love and affection 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 forms of physical affections such as kissing or hugging that you can provide within your daily life.
Lack of physical intimacy could gradually lead to a huge gap in your marriage, filled with anger, silence or distancing. To avoid this, take action before it’s too late.
14. A point of no return:
Conflicts are common in a relationship. Constructive communication is required for a healthy marriage. But what if the disagreements happen very often and over frivolous issues? It spreads so much unpleasantness in your lives that your relationship bond becomes irretrievable.
15. Long distance relationship:
Long-term physical distance can lead to misunderstandings, suspicion, and lack of communication. For example, you may suspect him of being somehow disloyal he doesn’t pick up your call, or respond to your messages. Initially, you may be an understanding wife, and he would accept your unresponsiveness. However, if healthy communication practices are not in place, the relationship may not be able to bear all this stress for much 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 intrudes into your life too often, it can build up tension in the relationship with your husband.
18. Children from previous marriage:
Blended families certainly have their challenges and the stress it causes can often lead to divorse. It looked all fine before marriage as you both thought it wasn’t difficult to live under the same roof with his kids and your kids from previous marriages. But reality certainly sets in after you all begin living together.
19. Interference of parents:
In-laws and parents, although well-intended, may create a problem in your marriage. They want to share their advice and to give guidance, whether you have asked for it or not. 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 desire their counsel 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:
A pretty young girl winked at your husband in the previous night’s party and you could not sleep after coming home. Maybe he has stopped kissing you before going to work and messaging you after he reaches office. He never seems to receive your phone calls and does not bother to explain whyl. He keeps his phone locked with a password, secretly reads his messages and giggles at them. Valid enough reasons to get insecure If you don’t speak up, things will build up heading you towards a divorce. Don’t let another day go by without talking it out and making an attempt to find out more. 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 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 may deprive 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 have lived with multiple partners.
5. Parenthood before marriage:
Imagine having a child even before you have decided to marry. You live with your partner, bear a child, and have to marry only to make that birth a legitimate one. How long can you manage in such an arrangement, just for the baby’s sake? 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 less likely to be 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 triples.
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 damaging 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 inflicting 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 and 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. The 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 of getting 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 falling out of love with the spouse.
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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