Divorce rates are falling in the United States, but it’s still relatively common for married couples to eventually split up. According to recent data, a marriage now has about a 39 percent chance of ending in divorce – down from 50 percent in the 1980s.
Why is divorce so common? What motivates people to end this supposedly lifelong relationship?
The Value of Divorce
First, we need to acknowledge that divorce isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, in many cases, divorce is a good thing. Divorces tend to be messy, stressful, and expensive, but at the end of this complicated process, both people involved in the marriage have a chance of living a happy, independent life. After several months, or perhaps several years, each individual gets the chance to live the life they’ve always wanted, and they’ll no longer be shackled to someone they don’t love.
For this reason, it’s important to see divorce motivations with the right perspective. These aren’t necessarily massive problems that reflect poorly on the individuals in the marriage; sometimes, they’re an unfortunate byproduct of mismatched personalities or misaligned values.
Along similar lines, it’s important to acknowledge that divorce is nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re not happy in your current marriage, talking to a divorce lawyer may be the most important next step to take.
Common Motivations for Divorce
These are some of the most common reasons for divorce in the United States:
- Money disagreements. One of the most common reasons for divorce is related to finance. Without a strong financial foundation, it’s very hard to keep a marriage running successfully. If one partner doesn’t make enough money, if one partner accrues significant debt, or if partners can’t agree on how money should be spent, eventually these issues are going to compound and overtake the relationship.
- Infidelity. Unsurprisingly, infidelity has the potential to destroy a relationship irreparably. If one partner is unfaithful to the other, the other partner has no reason to trust their spouse ever again. It’s true that some marriages can survive infidelity, but in many cases, one incident is all it takes to ruin the marriage.
- Value incompatibility. “Basic incompatibility” is the most commonly cited reason for divorce, but this is a vague term that could refer to many different things. One of the most common manifestations of basic incompatibility is incompatibility of values. If one person is religious and the other isn’t, if one person wants children while the other doesn’t, or if one person pride some selves on familial relationships while the other wants to remain independent, this could eat away at the foundation of your marriage.
- Family issues. Speaking of family, family related issues can also cause divorce. Disagreements on raising children, interacting with in-laws, and other family-related disputes can be the root cause of a relationship imploding.
- General arguing/conflicts. Sometimes, the decay of a relationship can’t be traced to any one incident or any single root cause. Instead, the marriage is gradually warned away through ongoing arguing and conflicts. If you feel like you’re constantly waging war against your partner, or if you know the next argument is never more than a few hours or a few days away, it may be better to end the marriage.
- Abuse. Some marriages rightfully end because of abuse. Physical and emotional abuse should never be tolerated. If one partner is physically striking or threatening the other, the victim should immediately remove themselves from the situation, seek help, and end the marriage. Emotional abuse comes in many forms, some of which are hard to detect, so it’s slightly harder to identify – but it can be equally destructive.
- Health issues. Unfortunately, health issues can cause relationship strain as well. If one person falls ill, rendering them unable to work or unable to participate normally in the relationship, the additional stress may cause the marriage to collapse.
- Addiction/substance abuse. Additionally, some marriages end as a result of addiction or substance use. If one partner drinks heavily or becomes addicted to some other illicit substance, it could create so much tension that the relationship cannot be saved – especially if they refuse to give up the habit.
Choosing Your Path Forward
If any of these common motivations for divorce ring true in your current relationship, you may seriously consider ending that relationship. You’re certainly correct in doing so. However, you should also acknowledge that most marriages and most relationships do have significant issues that require both partners to work them out over time. Acknowledging these issues could be your first step in resolving them and building a better relationship in the future.
That said, if there is no resolution to be found, or if your partner is uncooperative, divorce may be your only realistic option.