What Does "Grounds For Divorce" Mean? Strategies To Work Through Marriage Issues

Updated May 3, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

When you get married, you make a long-term commitment to support, love, and care for your partner. But despite your shared efforts, you may find yourself considering the possibility of a break, separation, or even divorce.

Trying to work through problems in your marriage?

A well-known statistic reports that about half of all marriages end in divorce. In the case of first marriages, this statistic is true; but if you’re marrying for the second or third time, the rate of divorce is actually higher.  

Fortunately, your marriage is not just a statistic. There are several actions you can take to build and nurture your relationship, both before and after saying “I do”. Read on to learn more about grounds for divorce and common reasons why marriages end, followed by five strategies to sustain a healthy, fulfilling marriage.

What are grounds for divorce?

In legal terms, grounds for divorce are legally acceptable reasons for a divorce in the U.S. The meaning of this term may vary slightly depending on your state of residence. 

Each U.S. state offers some version of a “no-fault divorce”, which is the most common way to end a marriage. If a married couple files for a no-fault divorce, they do not need to show any proof of “fault” or wrongdoing. Instead, they simply state that they’re unable to get along and cannot continue their marriage.

However, about two-thirds of U.S. states still allow married couples to file for a fault divorce, in which one spouse proves that the other partner did something to cause the end of the marriage. Fault grounds vary across states but traditionally include adultery, cruelty, and other forms of harm or misconduct that lead to an unsustainable marriage.

Please note that this article only provides a general overview of grounds for divorce and cannot replace professional legal advice. If you’re considering a divorce or simply want to learn more about divorce law in your state, please contact a licensed legal professional. 

What does grounds for divorce mean for me?

If you’re struggling in your marriage and learning more about grounds for divorce, you may be wondering what this legal term means for you, as well as your partner, potential children (in terms of child custody), and anyone else in your family. 

Ultimately, your place of residence and current relationship with your spouse can help you determine what “grounds for divorce” mean for you, as well as any affected children or family members. You may also need to file certain documents to divide property and debt with your spouse, arrange for child custody, child support, and address other issues specific to your family. 

Both legally and emotionally, divorce cases can become complicated – which is why it’s best to meet with a family law attorney and review your options before deciding between a fault and no-fault divorce.

Before divorce: Five strategies to strengthen your marriage

In some cases, a divorce is the best and healthiest option for a couple, as well as their loved ones. 

But other times, married couples return from the brink of divorce and discover new ways to connect with each other. With time, mutual effort, and therapy, you may be able to explore alternatives to divorce and emerge with more love and respect for each other.

If you’re trying to improve your marriage, apply these five strategies to rebuild your connection and build a more joyful, fulfilling life with your spouse. 

1. Prioritize quality time together

As life gets more complicated, many couples have to find creative ways to spend time together. Between work, family, children, and other obligations, finding time to recharge on your own is hard enough. But rest assured: quality time with your spouse doesn’t have to be lengthy or involve any elaborate activities. 

When it comes to time with your spouse, the key word is intentionality. At the beginning or end of each week, take a moment to sit down with your partner and schedule a date or other shared activity into your schedule. You might designate one night a week to watch a movie together, go on a hike, or make a home-cooked meal. If you have children or pets, consider asking a loved one to take over for the evening, allowing you and your spouse to sneak away to a fun event. 

Research shows that shared time is important for marital well-being, and that work and family demands greatly influence the amount of time couples spend together. With simple strategies like a shared calendar and a five-minute brainstorming session, you can begin each week with a plan that clearly outlines your individual goals and responsibilities, as well as your commitment to each other.

2. Cultivate your own interests

In a thriving marriage, quality time is essential – but it’s equally important for spouses to explore their own interests and maintain hobbies, passions, and friendships outside their marriages.

Just as you schedule quality time together, consider setting aside windows of time for each partner to attend to their own needs. For example: maybe your spouse loves the movies, while you struggle to sit still for a single TV episode. Encourage your spouse to attend the local theater on a weeknight, while you enjoy a night in or a dinner out to catch up with a friend. 

By cultivating their own lives and relationships outside the marriage, spouses can retain their sense of autonomy and independence. A marriage can fulfill many of your needs and desires, but partners should also pursue other sources of joy, enrichment, and fulfilment. 


3. Take a break

At some point, everyone deserves a break: from work, family, a friendship, or even a marriage. Taking a break doesn’t necessarily mean filing for a divorce. A couple might simply decide to spend a weekend away from each other to reflect, recharge, and gather their thoughts before returning to discuss their marriage. 

When do you know it’s time to take a break in marriage? Every couple’s answer to this question will vary, but you might consider the possibility of a break if you relate to any of these signs: 

  • You’re going through a period of high stress, potentially related to work or family, and need time to prioritize yourself.
  • You’re overwhelmed by the demands of your relationship and feel that both partners could benefit from time apart.
  • You feel stuck in a conflict and need time and space to consider the solution. 
  • You want an opportunity to reflect on and reestablish the expectations and boundaries in your marriage.

There are several valid reasons why you might suggest taking a break in your marriage. Whatever your reasoning, there’s no shame in investing in self-care before reinvesting energy into your marriage.  

4. Even during conflict, be gentle and considerate

Especially in moments of conflict, being gentle with your spouse goes a long way. If you want your marriage to endure through the tough moments as well as seasons of celebration, make an active decision to “fight nice” and give your partner grace and kindness. Conflict in marriage is unavoidable, but couples who stay together for the long run usually address sore spots with a gentler, kinder, and more considerate approach. 

On the topic of conflict resolution, the American Psychological Association references a study of 136 couples over the first decade of their marriages. When discussing relationship difficulties, couples who interacted with more anger and pessimism as newlyweds were more likely to be divorced 10 years later. 

Trying to work through problems in your marriage?

5. Consult a professional therapist for guidance

If you’re experiencing marital challenges or even considering divorce, you may benefit from working with an experienced couples therapist. 

While some people prefer in-person therapy to begin this process, many couples and individuals now use online therapy to restore their marriages and support their mental health. Starting with a digital platform like Regain, you can connect with a therapist within a few days of completing a brief questionnaire. Each Regain therapist has at least three years of professional experience and expertise in relationship therapy. Many Regain therapists work with married couples through separation, divorce, and other common hurdles in long-term relationships. 

Several studies show that online therapy can be just as effective as face-to-face options, including a 2017 study of an online Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy (IBCT) program. Based on a nationwide clinical trial of the 8-hour online program, 86% of couples completed the program and 97% of participants would recommend it to a friend. The researchers also noted significant improvements in participants’ relationship satisfaction and reductions in their anxiety and depression symptoms. Overall, the study indicates the promise of online IBCT as an alternative to in-person IBCT, which is already established as an effective intervention. 


Every married couple goes through periods of challenge. But with continual work and communication, these times can be followed by moments of joy and deep appreciation for your spouse. 

If you’re contemplating reasons for a divorce, an online therapist can help you make the best decision for your marriage, both individually and as a couple. 

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.