Four Lesser Known Reasons Why People Divorce

Updated April 1, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Want to know what causes divorce? The reasons for divorce can be as varied as the unique individuals who are ending their marriage. Many marriages end for reasons that may be more well-known, such as infidelity or a lack of intimacy. Other marriages may end for reasons that may not be as commonly discussed. There may be no one cause for divorce, but there can be some characteristics that are more commonly found in marriages that end. However, whatever the reasons are for ending a marriage, it can help to know that there may also be hope. People can find paths to move forward in positive ways after divorce no matter why it might occur.

CaptionGetty/jeffbergen
Are you experiencing or thinking about a divorce?

What are some of the most common reasons why people get divorced?

Infidelity

According to research, cheating on a spouse is the number one reason for divorce in America. Extra-marital affairs are linked to 20-40% of marriages that end in divorce, and it is one of the most common grounds for divorce worldwide. There can also be co-existing reasons for divorce that might be related to infidelity, such as anger, resentment, and a lack of trust. 

Finances

Money issues can cause problems in relationships. In fact, around 35% of people in relationships blame finances for the stress that they experience. Financial concerns that may affect marriages can include spouses having different spending habits, varying financial goals, or resentment that one partner earns more money than the other. Also, couples who go into debt in order to fund their wedding may be more likely to divorce. A lack of financial resources can also put a strain on marriages. Even having plenty of money can become an issue. Those with high incomes may have difficulty agreeing on what to spend money on or may engage in overspending, for example.

Communication

Healthy communication can be the foundation of a solid marriage. Poor communication can be considered a leading cause of divorce. When couples no longer talk to each other or don’t use healthy forms of communication, feelings of isolation may result. Communicating in a positive, productive way can not only help make sure the needs of both partners are being met but can also promote intimacy. 

Constant arguing

Disagreeing with your partner can be expected from time to time. Two people agreeing all the time may be rare (or perhaps even non-existent), but how you handle disagreements can make a difference in a marriage. Partners who argue repeatedly might not feel they’re being heard or understood. These arguments can lead to frustration, insecurity, or isolation, which in turn can shake the stability of a marriage. Nearly 60% of couples who divorce say that arguing was an issue in their marriage.

Addiction and substance use

A commonly cited reason for divorce can be addiction. Often this is an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or another substance. However, other addictions can also be reasons for divorce, such as sex addiction or addiction to pornography or gambling. There is also research about alcohol use that suggests that when one person in a couple is a heavy drinker and the other isn’t, the likelihood of divorce may be greater; the divorce rate is about 50% for these couples.

Lack of love, intimacy, or commitment

According to one study, 47% of participants who’d divorced said that a lack of love or intimacy led to the end of their marriage. When spouses are no longer emotionally connected, their sense of partnership can be damaged. Without commitment, love, or closeness, some couples may find that growing apart becomes a reality. Additionally, if sexual incompatibility is an issue between the spouses, physical closeness and sexual satisfaction can be impacted and can affect the relationship.

Lesser-known reasons for divorce

It can be difficult to say with certainty what causes the end of a marriage. However, there is some research that shows that the likelihood of divorce increases according to certain circumstances, even those that we might not commonly talk about.

The ages of the spouses

Research shows that those who get married when they’re under the age of 26 may be more likely to get divorced and that almost 50% of those who marry before the age of 18 are likely to divorce within ten years. However, other research also shows that the divorce rate for couples over the age of 50 has doubled since the 1990s. This information does not mean that marrying young is a cause for divorce, or that being over 50 leads to divorce; instead, it shows that divorce rates may statistically tend to be higher among these groups.

Religion

Studies have shown that people who are actively affiliated with a religion may be less likely to divorce. A person with no religious affiliation may be 14% more likely to divorce than average.

Education and IQ

Both IQ and level of education may be linked to a greater likelihood to divorce. Those who have dropped out of high school are 14% more likely to divorce. Those whose IQs fall in the “below average” range are 50% more likely to divorce than those whose IQs are in the “average” range or above.

Divorced parents, friends, or close family

Ilona Titova/EyeEm

Children of divorced parents may be more likely to also divorce, according to some interesting research. The rate of divorce is also greater among people who have close friends or family whose marriages ended. The likelihood of divorce may be 50% higher if one spouse’s parents are divorced. It may be as much as 200% higher when the parents of both spouses divorced. However, relationship history does not necessarily repeat itself. 

How common is divorce?

No matter what causes a marriage to end, divorce is quite common in the United States. However, in recent years, the rate of divorce has actually decreased, after a rise that spanned many decades. Between 1960 and 1980, the rate of divorce more than doubled. The rate stayed steady into the 1980s before beginning to decline. By 2007, the rate was decreasing — 40% of marriages ended in divorce. In 2020, the divorce rate hit a 50-year low. 

Since 2016, both the number of divorces and the number of marriages has been on the decline. There are some theories as to why this may be the case. For instance, people may not feel the pressure to marry as early they did in past generations. They may feel more freedom and less urgency to get married and, as a result, take more time to be sure they’re compatible with a future spouse. They also may wait to get married until they are more financially stable, which can ease or help prevent some amount of marital stress.

Therapy can help

If you are considering divorce or if you have any relationship concerns in general, therapy can help. Couples therapy and individual therapy can be very effective. In relationship counseling, a therapist can help you learn healthy ways to resolve conflict, build trust and intimacy, solve problems, set relationship goals, communicate effectively, and more. Individual therapy can also be a valuable option. If a couple decides to divorce, therapy can help individuals and families move forward. 

No matter your situation, resources like online therapy can help you find the right professional for your needs and pursue treatment at a time and from a place that makes sense for you. You can communicate by phone, messaging, or video, which can make effective therapy comfortable and convenient. 

Research suggests that online therapy can be helpful for individuals and couples alike, with some people finding a digital medium to be a more comfortable way to open up. One study found that most people who pursued online therapy felt they could divulge more to their therapist through the web, which means that online support may be an ideal way to navigate challenging or emotional topics like divorce. This can be true whether you seek it for yourself or as a couple.

Getty/MoMo Productions
Are you experiencing or thinking about a divorce?

Takeaway

There can be many reasons a divorce might occur, some of which may have more to do with a person’s past experiences and personal philosophies rather than the strength of the relationship. In any case, learning to navigate conflict, communicate well, and be open with your partner can help you avoid and manage conflict when it arises. A mental health professional can also help you decide whether divorce is the right choice for you.

For Additional Help & Support With Your ConcernsThis website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.