The Top 20 Reasons for Divorce

Updated on January 17, 2018
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Paul has done a variety of jobs since graduating university, he now earns his money writing freelance. He has been married and divorced

Many weddings unfortunately end up in divorce.  This list gives the reasons most often cited for the relationship failure.  Certain destructive behavior seems to doom a partnership to failure.
Many weddings unfortunately end up in divorce. This list gives the reasons most often cited for the relationship failure. Certain destructive behavior seems to doom a partnership to failure. | Source

Marriages, as most people know, are meant to last for life, but that doesn't mean that they all stand the test of time in practice.

Many partnerships founder only a relatively brief period of time, including a significant number of short celebrity marriages. Some last longer, but still end in dissolution. Others continue blissfully for a lifetime.

So what makes some marriages crash and burn? Are there certain sorts of behavior and circumstances that consistently rip a pairing apart?

Here is my top 20 list regarding the most common reasons for divorce.

When people divorce, it's always such a tragedy. At the same time, if people stay together it can be even worse.

— Monica Bellucci

1. Sometimes two people genuinely give the relationship their all and they finally come to the conclusion that parting ways is the best and healthiest decision for all involved.

2. One or both of the partners are selfish. They prioritize their own needs and wants, and disregard, neglect, or minimize the requirements of others. There always has to be some caring and compromises by both parties for a relationship to work.

3. Love is a verb. It is something that you actively do. If one or both partners neglect to show or make loving actions then sooner or later, the partnership will likely fizzle out.

4. Marriage requires commitment and compromises to be made. Unfortunately some people just aren't cut out for matrimony but they do it because they feel that's what's expected of them. If you are someone who is happiest when single, then it is unlikely that marriage will work for you, especially if you are just doing it because that's what people do.

I don't see divorce as a failure. I see it as the end to a story. In a story, everything has an end and a beginning.

— Olga Kurylenko
If one or both partners are selfish then it is unlikely that the marriage will work.  Wedlock relies on a degree of caring, self-sacrifice, and compromise to work, and without it most partnerships will falter, or fizzle out.
If one or both partners are selfish then it is unlikely that the marriage will work. Wedlock relies on a degree of caring, self-sacrifice, and compromise to work, and without it most partnerships will falter, or fizzle out. | Source

5. Some couples are just not suited. They may have incompatible personalities, interests, expectations, lifestyles, or tastes. Differences can sometimes be papered over during the dating phase, and the initial passions of love sometimes distorts a person's viewpoint, but once the couple are living together under one roof on a day to day roof, any differences will eventually surface, and sometimes they are irreconcilable.

6. Some people just aren't cut out for monogamy biologically. They are never going to be faithful to their partner, so marriage probably isn't for them.

My divorce came to me as a complete surprise. That's what happens when you haven't been home in eighteen years.

— Lee Trevino

7. People change over time. Sometimes couples grow apart because they each develop in different ways, or they progress at different rates of time. Over the years, a partnership that was originally compatible becomes incompatible.

8. Sometimes the marriage dies because the sex life disappears and without the physical intimacy, the couple lose their bond. It depends on the dynamics of the particular partnership, of course. Other factors, such as age for instance, can also play a part.

9. Some relationships are always destined to burn themselves out. A romance that is hot and passionate in the early days, may be too intense to continue indefinitely. Passion can turn to arguments and excitement can become instability.

10. A relationship needs hope and optimism to keep going. If one or both partners lose their faith in the relationship, then there is a good chance that they will fall out of love too.

My wife Mary and I have been married for forty-seven years and not once have we had an argument serious enough to consider divorce; murder, yes, but divorce, never.

— Jack Benny
Divorce can be particularly harsh on the children.  Some couples stay together until the offspring have flown the nest to try to minimize the trauma.  Children can either bring the partners together, or supply more pressures on the relationship.
Divorce can be particularly harsh on the children. Some couples stay together until the offspring have flown the nest to try to minimize the trauma. Children can either bring the partners together, or supply more pressures on the relationship. | Source

11. Life is a roller coaster. Some people find it easy when everything is on the up and running smoothly, but don't cope so well when things are going badly. Most relationships are only truly tested during the tough periods and not all of them survive.

12. There is a breakdown of trust between the couple. Once trust has gone, it is easy for couples to stop respecting each other too.

If you made a list of reasons why any couple got married, and another list of the reasons for their divorce, you'd have a hell of a lot of overlapping.

— Mignon McLaughlin

13. Some people are misled and/or fool themselves, and it is not until they are actually married that they realize that they have made a mistake, and the person they have married is not the person they thought they were.

14. One or both members of the partnership have expectations that are too high for the other person to meet. Sometimes the expectations are simply unrealistic.

15. Sometimes it becomes clear over time that there was never really any love between the partners. Maybe there was affection, lust, or other desires, but no love.

16. Arguments become the norm and both parties stop listening to the other. Both feel hurt and defensive and communication breaks down.

Divorce: a resumption of diplomatic relations and rectification of boundaries.

— Ambrose Bierce
Anger and hostility are never good for a relationship, especially if it occurs regularly.  Couples need to be able to listen to each other to communicate effectively.  If they reach a stage where they are permanently on the defensive, that's bad.
Anger and hostility are never good for a relationship, especially if it occurs regularly. Couples need to be able to listen to each other to communicate effectively. If they reach a stage where they are permanently on the defensive, that's bad. | Source

17. Sometimes the relationship suffers intolerable pressures from outside forces such as in-laws. Dealing with your partner's family can be tricky, stressful, or downright damaging.

18. The couple just gradually cease communicating interacting and start living separate lives.

19. Infidelity by one or both members of the relationship leads to a breakdown of trust, jealousy, bitterness, or a weakening of self-worth. Unfaithfulness is a common cause of divorce and can create irreconcilable differences.

20. A problem suffered by one or both of the couple causes intolerable stress on the relationship, such as addiction, mental health problems, or a serious physical illness or injury.

I do not consider divorce an evil by any means. It is just as much a refuge for women married to brutal men as Canada was to the slaves of brutal masters.

— Susan B. Anthony

Questions & Answers

    © 2015 Paul Goodman

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      • profile image

        Joe 

        3 years ago

        what an awful article. Number 2 is the only thing that made sense. All self serving reasons. Love is an act of the will and not a feeling to be disposed of once its all used up. This is why society is so messed up. Pray to Jesus for the truth to sacrifice yourself to your Spouse and family and live a life God intended for you.

      • Elsie Hagley profile image

        Elsie Hagley 

        3 years ago from New Zealand

        Like this list, all are very true for reasons for divorce.

        Hopefully most couples can overcome these reasons as my husband and I know, but you work the problem out together.

        We have been married fifty-five years, it wasn't easy those years when our children were in their teens, but we made it.

        Blessings to all couples reading this article.

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