Nobody, hopefully, enters into a marriage with a person thinking they are going to one day deal with a divorce. Even if there are problems in the relationship, a couple hope that after walking down the aisle, smooching hello to the promise of a life together, and getting down on the dance floor, their relationship with fall into place. But it doesn't always happen like that.
Life gets in the way and relationships get tangled, leaving between 40 to 50 percent of couples in the United States opting for divorce. So is there a way to see if your relationship is divorce-proof? Probably not. But there are signs to look for to see if your relationship might be heading down that path. Here are the most popular reasons married couples split up.
1. Issues Regarding Sex
Things may have been stale, or nonexistent, in the bedroom for quite some time. But while both of you have turned a blind eye to that, there might be more destruction happening to your relationship than you think.
"It's no secret that couples begin to feel doomed and start talking about divorce when their sex lives change," said Shannon Kalberg, LMFT, a marriage and family therapist and an adjunct clinical professor at Pepperdine University. "What many couples and individuals miss is that a couple's sex life needs to be worked at over time and that desire can be fickle, especially since desire has the tendency to ebb and flow in a long-term marriage. However, a mismatch in libido, shaming the other partner for their sexual fantasies, and negative values about sex can lead to divorce."
2. Fighting Dirty
All couples have their arguments, and while that's not always something to worry about, the way the couple argue might be a sign that divorce is imminent.
"In a couple's session, I encourage them to bring up an issue that they often have disagreements about," Kalberg said. "I do this because it gives me a sense of how couples argue, communicate, and problem solve. If a couple does not attempt to regulate emotions or validate each other during arguments, then the escalation in anger and tension can ruin a marriage. This can look like blaming, name calling, and shaming. It will build resentment and create a power imbalance that loses sight of what really matters in a relationship: trust and safety in times of distress."
3. Trying to "Fix" Each Other
Growing apart from the person you married or just no longer getting a kick out of their bad habits or frustrating ways is another main reason couples want to call it quits.
"I can't tell you how many times I have had an intake with a potential client who states that they want to begin couples therapy in order to 'fix' their partner," Kalberg said. "This can be a huge predictor to divorce because what that person fails to understand is their own responsibility in the relationship. By placing the blame entirely on the other person and refusing to examine your own actions, it will cause a large emotional block between the two partners. If this continues, then over time they will begin to emotionally isolate themselves, which could lead to other issues, like infidelity."
4. Lack of Commitment
When life gets in the way of love and you feel like you're growing apart from your spouse, it's important to take a step back and prioritize. Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed psychologist and marriage counsellor in Boulder, CO, says that both spouses want to feel like they are equally working at the marriage. "Therefore, if one partner starts feeling like they are the main one working at the relationship, they'll eventually get burned out and want out of the relationship," Dr. Fisher said.
If you find out your partner has strayed from the relationship and cheated on you, it may be really hard to salvage the relationship afterward. "Infidelity is one of the quickest ways to break trust in marriage cross-culturally, and many couples are unable to recover from it, especially if the betraying spouse doesn't take true ownership for their behaviour," Dr. Fisher said.
6. Lack of Appreciation
A thank you goes a long way in a relationship, even if you have been with your partner for years. Without it, Robin Graine, a divorce mediator and former family law attorney, says the relationship can be at risk. "Everyone feels that they are working hard, contributing money, and doing their best to raise the children and keep the household running," Graine said. "When the mum doesn't appreciate the dad making the money and dad doesn't appreciate the mum paying attention to all of the details, everyone is resentful."
7. No One Is Paying Attention
Good communication is always the best foundation for any relationship, but so is making sure you are listening to your spouse. "When married couples stop listening to one another and paying attention to each other's needs and desires, they wind up in my office," Graine said.