Reasons for Divorce: Top 10 Reasons Marriages End

top 10 reasons for divorce america

Top Reasons for Divorce

Understanding the reasons for divorce requires you to suspend any preconceived notions about why they happen. Many people mistakenly believe that most marriages end almost exclusively because of infidelity.

While this certainly is a major factor, the decision to terminate a marriage is much more complicated. According to a variety of marriage related studies, there are a number of other causes that may surprise you.




After doing considerable research on this topic, the relationship experts at the Couples Counseling Center are ready to present our top 10 list of reasons for divorce. The information listed here comes from different forms of scientific research, combined with input from counselors and therapists who specialize in marriage therapy.

At the end of this page, we have included a reason for getting divorce poll for you to vote in as a way of communicating your thoughts about why marriages end. Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!

top 10 reasons for divorceTop 10 Reasons for Divorce

1. Married too fast

Simply put, many couples get married too fast and too soon. This happens when two people get hooked on the look and overlook fundamental differences between one another. For example, an extrovert and an introvert may have completely different ideas about what constitutes “together time”. When people rush into a marriage without getting to know one another, there is a high risk of marital failure. Lack of shared interest also happens when expectations are too high.

2. Communications breakdowns

This is a primary reason many marriages end in divorce. After a period of time, couples commonly enter into a routine of caustic communication. If not watched carefully, toxic patterns can set in that result in one or both parties in the marriage withdrawing from meaningful conversation. Worse, these avoidant patterns can turn into negative communication when forced. This pattern is most prominent during and after disagreements.

3. Cheating and infidelity

There is no question about it – cheating and marital infidelities are major reasons people get divorced. These kinds of relationship ending behaviors happen in marriages more than you might think. Research suggests up to 41% of people engage in some form of physical or emotional infidelity. And if you think men do it more than women, think again. The research suggests that acts of infidelity between the genders are almost evenly split.

4. Bedroom boredom

Another major reason marriages fail relates to boredom in the bedroom. At the beginning of almost all relationships, sexual energy is fairly high. As the relationship goes on and time continues, that energy can wax and wane. If not watched closely, intimacy in the bedroom can atrophy. This is one of the primary reasons people engage in spousal cheating.

5. Loss of autonomy

When a couple initially decides to marry, it is not uncommon for both parties to hold grandiose visions about the future. Often lost in the equation are relational roles, which necessarily impact one or both person’s level of autonomy. Research conducted on breakups and divorce suggests that 24% of men felt a lack of autonomy in their relationship and women around 44%.

The ability to be with someone while also maintaining a sense of independence is a key ingredient for a successful, long term marriage. It is for this reason couples are encouraged to engage in pre marriage counseling as a way of exploring the topic of autonomy before getting hitched.

6. Money and financial issues

This particular reason for divorce should not come as a surprise to you. The truth is that money is a major problem in many marriages. In fact, the majority of divorce related surveys suggest money is one of the biggest reasons couples split.

Even long standing couples have found their marriage in trouble because of strong disagreements about spending, savings and general financial decision making. Financial inequity; meaning who is bringing what to the table, also are major reasons behind divorce.

7. Alcohol and drugs

Believe it or not, alcohol and drug use are a major reason why many marriages end. In one study, it was reported that as many as 45% of couples decide to split because of substance dependence issues.

Abuse of alcohol and drugs in marriages can cause a host of other problems, including financial and emotional difficulties. Substance abuse can also lead to heated arguments and in some cases, physical violence.

8. Lack of romance

Romance is a construct that can be hard to understand. At its core, we are talking about having some level of passion in the relationship that goes beyond mere physical closeness. The research suggests that women like to feel their husbands make them feel special in some way. Men on the other hand prefer some form of admiration from their wives. A lack of romance can sometimes be traced to a fear of intimacy, which may not become immediately apparent during the initial stages of a relationship.

9. Differences in background

This point in many ways relates to reason #1. Many marriages end because of fundamental differences in background. These differences can be cultural, familial and economic. Because some couples decide to marry too quickly, they can often overlook major differences that exist between one another. This is particularly true regarding spiritual and religious beliefs.

10. Boredom with other person

A lack of excitement about a spouse is our final reason many couples get divorced. Simply put, when one or both parties in the relationship believe their marriage is no longer fun or no longer interesting, withdraw and drifting can occur.

As you might imagine, this can also cause a spouse to have a wandering eye or out and out cheat. Boredom can also spark conversations about having an open marriage, which some spouses turn to as a way of salvaging their marriages.




Reasons for Divorce Summary

Our 10 reasons marriages end in divorce is by no means exhaustive. There are a host of other factors that can impact a relational dynamic and lead to marital collapse. Our list covered the “biggies”. Many couples find themselves wondering should we break up as a result of ongoing relationship problems. Marriage counseling can certainly help to provide answers.

One useful tool that you may want to consider as a way of assessing the general health of your relationship is to complete our marriage report card. While unscientific, this resource can help you to better understand where things stand in your marriage while focusing in on strengths and weaknesses.

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