Causes of divorce

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

There are many - perceived - reasons for divorce.  Here I've listed the most common reasons that contribute to marital breakdown - why people get divorced. The list is based on my 24 years of experience as a couple counsellor. You can find further information on common causes of marital strife on my page: Relationship Problems.

I've found that usually there's a combination of factors that lead to a divorce. Your situation, however, will be different from everybody else's. There'll be lots of personal and shared aspects involved in your own relationship. 

As a couple, you don'’t live in a vacuum. You're part of - and contribute to - everything and everyone around you. Changes in society, gender roles, community integration, values, beliefs and the law all have an impact.

If you've landed here because you're considering divorcing your spouse, but are still doubtful that you're doing the right thing, you may find this Relationship Compatibility Test helpful.

The only reason for a divorce - UK law

In the UK, the court will want to know that your marriage has 'irretrievably broken down'. This you need to prove with one or more of the following 'facts':

  • adultery (see: Dealing with Infidelity) and intolerability
  • unreasonable behaviour
  • desertion for at least two years
  • separation for at least two years - with your partner's agreement
  • you and your wife or husband have lived apart for at least five years

Stay here with me to find out what I think might have contributed to any of these facts, or could be the causes of divorce.

What are the ‘reasons’ for divorce? Why are people getting divorced?

sign: different directions

I know that you may be desperate to find out what ‘caused’ the breakdown of your relationship or marriage. What are the factors that led you or your spouse to no longer wanting to be married? You or your spouse may have been questioning your compatibility for some time, perhaps even years.

However, right now I'd rather you don't fret about the cause too much. You really need all your energy to deal with the changes ahead...

  • how and where you live
  • your finances
  • how you engage with your children
  • how you cope with your friends and family

All these factors contribute to, or detract from, your mental and emotional well-being - and that of your spouse and your children.

'Knowing' what caused your divorce doesn't necessarily lead to a better recovery - I know this from my professional experience as a couple counsellor. I believe you first need to get through the emotional roller-coaster of the early stages. Only after that should you reflect more deeply about what caused your marriage or relationship to break down (if you want to, of course).

If you're still trying to save your marriage, I'd of course suggest couple or relationship counselling. However, I do understand that comes with a cost, and of course your partner might not want to go. So if counselling isn't for you, do check out my page How to Save Your Relationship or Marriage.

If you've only just found out that your spouse wants a divorce, then hop over to my page on How to Get a Reconciliation - there may still be a chance that you can rescue the situation with the right advice.

Nevertheless, I do appreciate that you may really want to know what went wrong now. Especially if you're struggling to make sense of it all.

Therefore I've listed what - in my view - are some of the factors that contribute to a marriage failing and ultimately ending up in divorce. So join me for a look at some common reasons for divorce in Part 2...

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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Image courtesy of: Michal Zacharzewski