There is no standard template for what makes a marriage work, nor a formula for determining when such a coupling might end. Every situation is different, and these matters are deeply personal. It is what makes a divorce so challenging, even if a spouse believes it is the right thing to do.

There are, however, some patterns we can see in divorce, common reasons why one partner ultimately chooses to seek a divorce.

Why people choose to divorce

The question of what causes a divorce is layered. Sometimes it may be one egregious, inciting incident. In other situations, it could be the result of long-simmering issues that, one day, simply become too much.

One research professor reviewed multiple surveys about causes for divorce. While these surveys approached the topic in different ways, some common responses clearly emerged. Infidelity was a frequent response across all of the projects, as was abuse (physical, verbal or emotional) and substance use disorder.

These are all behavioral issues. Sometimes, there’s a root cause below these actions.

One 2019 survey asked more than 2,300 divorced individuals to identify why they split up. The top four reasons were:

  • Lack of love or intimacy – 47 percent
  • Communication problems – 44 percent
  • Not enough sympathy, respect or trust – 34 percent
  • Growing apart – 32 percent

These could be a sign, researchers noted, that “psychological and emotional divorce motives” may play as significant a role in marriage dissatisfaction as one partner’s behavior.

Whatever the reason for a divorce, going through this life change is never easy. There are many challenges, including emotionally, financially and spiritually. But it’s important to remember there is a better future ahead.

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