Top 20 Reasons for Divorce

Updated on May 19, 2020
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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.  Read on for my top 20 list of reasons for relationship failure...
Many weddings unfortunately end up in divorce. Read on for my top 20 list of reasons for relationship 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 fail? Are there certain sorts of behavior and circumstances that consistently rip a pairing apart? I've put together a list of common reasons for divorce.

20 Common Reasons For Divorce

  1. Both Know It's Over
  2. Selfishness
  3. The Love Just Dies
  4. Lack of Commitment
  5. Incompatibility
  6. Not Suited to Monogamy
  7. People Change
  8. Sex Life Disappears
  9. Burn Out
  10. Loss of Faith in the Future
  11. A Tough Period is Not Survived
  12. Breakdown of Trust
  13. They aren't Who You Thought They Were
  14. Unrealistic Expectations
  15. Never Any Love
  16. Neither is Listening to the Other
  17. Intolerable External Pressures
  18. Addiction
  19. Infidelity
  20. Mental Health Issues

I will explain each reason in more detail below.

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. Both Know It's Over

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. These splits tend to be the most amicable, as both parties are in agreement that the marriage is over.

2. Selfishness

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. The Love Just Dies

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. Routines make continue, but there is no affection or true joy.

4. Lack of Commitment

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.

5. Incompatibility

Some couples are simply 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. Not Suited to Monogamy

Some people aren't cut out for monogamy. Sticking with one person just isn't part of their nature. They are never going to be faithful to their partner, no matter how hard they may think they want to, so marriage probably isn't for them.

7. People Change

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. Sex Life Disappears

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.

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

9. Burn Out

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. Loss of Faith in the Future

A relationship needs hope and optimism to keep going. If one or both partners lose their faith in the future of the relationship, then there is a good chance that they will fall out of love too. A sense that things are only going to get worse spells doom for the marriage.

11. A Tough Period is Not Survived

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. The pressures can be internal or come from outside the relationship. Most relationships are only truly tested during the tough periods and not all of them survive.

12. Breakdown of Trust

There is a breakdown of trust between the couple. It doesn't have to be caused by sexual infidelity, it might be lying about finances, or something else. Once trust has gone, it can be difficult for it to be recovered, and it becomes easy for couples to stop respecting each other.

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. They aren't Who You Thought They Were

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. Unrealistic Expectations

One or both members of the partnership have expectations that are too high for the other person to meet. This might relate to having children, career and earnings, tidiness and chores around the home, or some other matter. Sometimes it becomes obvious that the expectations are simply unrealistic.

15. Never Any Love

Sometimes it becomes clear over time that there was never really any love between the partners. Maybe there was friendship, affection, lust, or other desires, but no love. Without love, the relationship never fully gets going and fades before it starts.

16. Neither is Listening to the Other

Arguments become the norm and both parties stop listening to the other. Both feel hurt and defensive and communication completely breaks down. Sometimes the issues can be resolved through relationship counselling, but sometimes there is no solution other than divorce.

17. Intolerable External Pressures

Sometimes the relationship suffers intolerable pressures from outside forces, such as illnesses, bereavement, financial troubles, as well as many other stresses . Dealing with your partner's family can also be tricky, stressful, or downright damaging.

18. Addiction

One or both partners suffering from addiction to alcohol, drugs, or something else, is a common cause of breakups. Living with an addict and supporting them can be very difficult and eventually a tipping point is reached.

19. Infidelity

Unfaithfulness 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. Mental Health Issues

A mental health problem suffered by one or both of the couple causes intolerable stress on the relationship. Relatively common conditions such as depression, for example, can place a lot of strain on relationships.

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

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

— Ambrose Bierce

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

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Paul Goodman

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    • profile image

      Joe 

      5 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 

      5 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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