If you think that sexual infidelity is the leading cause of divorce, you’ve got it all wrong. We polled over 100 YourTango experts to see what they say are the top reasons married couples decide to split, and — believe it or not — communication problems came out on top as the number one reason marriages fail. Here are some other culprits our experts blame for the high divorce rate.
1. Getting in for the wrong reasons.
Marrying for money — we’ve all heard that that is a ticket to a quick divorce, but what about when you marry because it’s what you think you should do?
I’ve met many divorced women who say the problems that made them leave were there right from the beginning but “everyone expected us to live happily ever after” or “we had already spent so much money on the wedding” or “we had just built our dream home.” So, remember, until you say “I do,” you always have the choice to say “I don’t!”
2. Lack of individual identity.
A codependent relationship is not healthy. When you don’t have your own interests or the opportunity to express yourself outside of coupledom, you become “couple dumb.”
If you are not comfortable doing things without your partner, or you don’t know what kind of music, movies, or food you used to like, you are likely in deep and you probably feel like you are drowning and don’t know why.
3. Becoming lost in the roles.
Just as many couples “forget” their single friends and single ways when they get married, when you add children into the mix, most parents soon neglect or completely forget that they are a couple.
As children grow and need less attention, many husbands and wives find that they have grown apart and they can’t remember why they ever got married in the first place because they no longer have anything in common.
4. Not having a shared vision of success.
“Everything changed when we got married!” He drives you crazy because you’re a saver and he’s a spender. Your idea of a weekend getaway is a cozy cottage in the woods; your partner wants to the hit the town and catch a game. He thinks it’s your job to cook and clean, but you disagree.
Why didn’t he mention these things before? Maybe you should have asked. Chances are that he hasn’t changed — your expectations did. Is it possible to survive major differences in philosophy? It is possible, but many do not.
5. The intimacy disappears.
Somewhere in a marriage there is a subtle change in the intimacy department. One person has an off day, there is a misunderstanding or someone doesn’t feel well. Then there’s the idea that he isn’t as romantic or she isn’t as sexual.
Whoever is the one with the subtle change can trigger a downward spiral in the intimacy department. Men generally need sexual receptivity to feel romantic and women generally need romance to be sexual receptive. As long as both people are getting what they need, they willingly provide what the other person wants. However, when there is a lessening on either’s part, that can trigger a pulling back in the other. If gone unnoticed and unchecked, before the couple realizes, they are seriously intimately estranged and wonder what happened. This can lead to divorce as couples begin to feel unloved and unappreciated.
6. Unmet expectations.
Somewhere written into a human’s genetic code lie the instruction that when a person isn’t happy, he or she is supposed to force his/her significant to make the changes required to make the unhappy person happy again. This usually takes the form of complaining, blaming, criticizing, nagging, threatening, punishing and/or bribing.
When one or both people in the marriage are attempting to coerce each other into doing things they don’t want to do for their partner’s happiness, it is a recipe for disaster. When you are unhappy in a relationship, it’s okay to ask for the change you want. But, if your partner doesn’t oblige you, then you become responsible for your own happiness.
It’s not usually the lack of finances that causes the divorce, but the lack of compatibility in the financial arena.
Opposites can attract but when two people are opposites in the financial department, divorce often ensues. Imagine the conflict if one is a saver and one is a spender. One is focused on the future while the other believes in living for today. One has no problem buying on credit, while the other believes in saving up for what one wants.
Over time, this conflict can reach such heights that divorce seems to be the only logical conclusion.
8. Being out of touch… literally.
I’m talking about physical contact. Of course, sex is great, but you also need to supplement it with little hello and goodbye kisses, impromptu hugs and simply holding hands. Couples who don’t maintain an intimate connection through both sexual and non-sexual actions are destined to become virtual strangers.
9. Different priorities and interests.
Having shared interests and exploring them together is essential for a successful marriage. Of course, having “me time” is important as well, but unless you can find common passions and look for ways to experience them together, you’ll inevitably grow farther and farther apart.
10. Inability to resolve conflicts.
Every couple has disagreements. The key is to develop ground rules so that each partner feels respected and heard. Sometimes it takes a third party “referee” to help define those rules and teach us to move through the charged emotions so resentments don’t linger.