Latest In


Factors Leading To Divorce - Top Reason May Surprise You

Divorce is a deeply personal and emotional process. The factors leading to divorce can be a long list, with each factor getting intertwined with the others. That said, no single reason can encompass all cases.

Author:Karan Emery
Reviewer:Frazer Pugh
Aug 22, 2023
Discovering and discussing the multifaceted nature of the factors leading to divorceare crucial.
After all, aren’t marriage supposed to last, with married couple promising each other: “until death do us part?”
A multitude of intricate threads weave together to form the fabric of a marriage, each contributing to its strength and resilience. However, sometimes these threads become strained, tested by the weight of various challenges.
Exploring the complexities of these factors leading to divorce reveals not only the vulnerabilities inherent in human connection.
It also shows the significance of empathy, communication, and understanding in navigating the precarious journey of marriage.

When did humans start getting divorced? - Rod Phillips

Why Divorce Happens?

Divorce is a legal process that formally ends a marriage or marital union between two individuals.
It involves the dissolution of the legal and social bonds that were established through marriage.
Divorce typically involves the resolution of various important issues, such as:
  • the division of property and assets
  • alimony or spousal support
  • child custody
  • visitation rights
  • child support
The specific procedures, laws, and requirements for obtaining a divorce vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, as they are governed by the legal systems of different countries and states.
Divorce can be initiated by one or both parties in the marriage. There can be various factors leading to divorce, such as:
  • irreconcilable differences
  • adultery
  • abuse
  • other reasons recognized by the legal system
While the threshold for divorce may differ among cultures and societies, there are several universal factors that tend to exert significant influence on marital dissolution.
These factors leading to divorce span from individual personality traits and communication patterns to external stressors and evolving societal norms.
There can be psychological, social, economic, and interpersonal forces that shape the destiny of countless marital relationships.
A young married couple gesturing with their hands while arguing in their living room
A young married couple gesturing with their hands while arguing in their living room

Factors Leading To Divorce

While every marital journey is unique, there are common elements that often contribute to the decision of couples to part ways.
These factors, like hidden undercurrents, shape the course of relationships, sometimes leading them into turbulent waters.
Below are some of the common factors leading to divorce (listed randomly):
1. Communication Issues
Poor communication is often cited as a major reason for divorce.
When couples struggle to effectively communicate their feelings, needs, and concerns, misunderstandings can escalate into larger conflicts.
Poor communication or breakdown in communication between spouses can lead to:
  • misunderstandings
  • resentment
  • emotional distance
2. Infidelity
Extramarital affairs can lead to a breakdown of trust and emotional connection within a marriage.
The breach of trust caused by infidelity can be difficult to overcome for many couples.
3. Lack of Intimacy
A decline in physical and emotional intimacy can create feelings of loneliness and disconnection within a marriage.
Over time, this emotional detachment becomes one of the factors leading to divorce.
4. Financial Problems
Money-related conflicts can put significant strain on a marriage, such as:
  • disagreements over spending habits
  • financial goals
  • debts
Financial stress can exacerbate other existing issues.
In her 2011 article for Forbes, Nancy Anderson, a U.S.-certified financial planner (CFP), shared her own experience as a financial adviser to numerous married couples. She wrote:
I have worked with hundreds of couples and have seen firsthand how money problems . . . can lead to unhappy marriages. If left unchecked, financial problems can ultimately destroy a marriage.- Nancy L. Anderson, CFP
Per Bank on It: Thrifty Couple are the Happiest (2009), a research workby Jeffrey P. Dew, Ph.D., the divorce rate gets as high as 45 percent when either the husband or the wife is a careless spender.
In addition, his research reveals that regardless of the married couple’s economic background, debt - such as credit card debt - is one of the factors leading to divorce.
Debt, according to him, adds tension and stress in the relationship. It causes them “financial unease.”
No wonder Dr. Dew describes “consumer debt,” in the context of marriage, as “an equal-opportunity marriage destroyer.”
5. Domestic Violence and Abuse
Physical, emotional, or verbal abuse can be a compelling reason for divorce, as the safety and well-being of one or both partners and any children involved are paramount.
Faceless husband forcefully grabbing his faceless wife’s right wrist during an argument
Faceless husband forcefully grabbing his faceless wife’s right wrist during an argument
6. Parenting Differences
Disagreements in parenting styles and approaches can create conflicts, especially when couples are unable to find common ground on how to raise their children.
Speaking of parenthood, the American Psychological Association (APA) mentioned a research work (published in 2011) by American psychologist John M. Gottman, Ph.D.
Dr. Gottman learned that 67 percent of married couple experienced dissatisfaction in their marriage after having a baby.
7. Substance Abuse
Substance abuse issues (e.g., alcohol, drugs, or other addictive behaviors) can place immense strain on a marriage.
They lead to a breakdown in trust and communication and eventually turn out to be factors leading to divorce.
According to the American Addiction Centers (AAC), a drug and alcohol rehab center headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, a relationship where one is having drug addiction can e the stating place for:
  • “chaos”
  • “negativity”
  • “emotional upheaval”
  • “violence”
ACC stated on its website:
Substance abuse can eventually destroy a couple by undermining trust, which weakens the bond between partners.- American Addiction Centers (AAC)
8. Incompatibility
Couples may discover over time that they have fundamental differences that make it difficult to maintain a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
These differences can be in:
  • values
  • goals
  • interests
  • personalities
9. Unrealistic Expectations
Unrealistic expectations about marriage and what it should provide can lead to disappointment when these expectations are not met, contributing to dissatisfaction and conflict.
10. Life Changes and Stressors
Major life changes can create stress and strain on a marriage, sometimes exacerbating existing issues.
They may include:
  • job loss
  • relocation
  • health problems
  • the death of a loved one
A 2011 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), shows that when husbands lost their jobs, either they or their wives will probably ask for a divorce.
In addition, a 2015 article by mentioned about a study from Iowa State University proves that health problems are strong factors leading to divorce.
In fact, based on the said study, the possibility is 6 percent higher when the wife has a serious illness, such as:
  • cancer
  • lung problems
  • lung problems
Interestingly, the study pointed out that in the case of husbands getting ill, the wives don’t necessarily consider filing for a divorce.
11. Cultural and Religious Differences
Differences in cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs can sometimes create challenges in terms of:
  • lifestyle choices
  • values
  • family expectations
12. Lack of Support Network
A lack of emotional support from family and friends, or feeling isolated from social connections, can make it harder for couples to navigate challenges and seek help.
13. Mental Health Issues
Untreated mental health problems can impact the quality of the relationship and the ability to handle conflicts.
Some of these mental health conditions that can be factors leading to divorce include:
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • personality disorders
Things may also begin to become problematic once the baby arrives.
As New York-based psychologist and psychiatrist Elizabeth Ochoa told in a 2015 interview:
Someone who already suffers from anxiety or depression may have a have a harder time adjusting to the birth of a child, because it will affect their ability to parent and cope with changes in their relationship.- Elizabeth S. Ochoa, Ph.D.
14. Unresolved Conflicts
Long-standing unresolved conflicts can fester over time, leading to resentment and eroding the foundation of the marriage.
15. External Pressures
Outside factors such as interference from family members, friends, or societal pressures can impact the stability of a marriage.
Remember that every marriage is unique, and the combination of factors leading to divorce can differ from one relationship to another.
In some cases, seeking professional help through couples therapy or counseling may offer a way to address these issues and work towards a healthier relationship.
A black husband looks at his sad white wife sitting on the garden’s stairs while walking away from her
A black husband looks at his sad white wife sitting on the garden’s stairs while walking away from her

Biggest Factor Leading To Divorce

Divorce is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon.
In 2021, according to Forbes, 1,985,072 marriages happened across the U.S. In the same year, 689,308 divorces also took place in the country.
There is no single factor that can fully explain why couples decide to end their marriages. Instead, divorce typically results from a combination of various factors that can vary from couple to couple.
Still, what can be the biggest factor leading to divorce?
One thousand American divorcees participated in a survey by Forbes Advisor. Here’s a summary of the results:
  • “biggest factor for getting a divorce” - “lack of family support” (43 percent)
  • “most common type of conflict among divorced couples” - “career choices” (46 percent)
  • top 1 sign “a marriage is at risk of divorce” - “lack of showing an interest in one another” (48 percent)
Here are the complete results:
A. For “The Biggest Factors for Getting a Divorce”
Lack of family support43%
Infidelity or extramarital affairs34%
Lack of compatibility31%
Lack of intimacy31%
Too much conflict or arguing31%
Financial stress24%
Lack of commitment23%
Parenting differences20%
Marrying too young10%
Opposing values or morals6%
Substance abuse3%
Domestic violence (physical and/or emotional)3%
Pursing different lifestyles1%
Being compatible to each other, injecting an ample amount of intimacy, and having less arguments/fights will lessen the factors leading to divorce.
B. For “Most Common Types of Conflict Among Divorced Couples”
Type of ConflictPercentage
Career choices46%
Parenting differences43%
Division of household labor 43%
Relationships with family 39%
Relationships with friends35%
Health choices9%
As we can see, parenting and household labor are equally crucial factors leading to divorce. Relationship with family and friends likewise matter in a marriage.
C. For “Top 13 Signs a Marriage is at Risk of Divorce”
Lack of showing an interest in one another48%
Poor conflict resolution47%
Avoiding each other45%
Lack of respect38%
Increased criticism to or from my partner38%
Poor communication33%
Substance abuse31%
Domestic violence27%
Disapproval of spouse from family/friends21%
Living different lifestyles17%
Marrying too young12%
Marrying too soon after meeting each other12%
Financial stress10%
Sixty-three percent of the participants (1,000 divorcees) believed that they could have prevented divorce if they had “a better understanding of the commitment of marriage prior to marrying.”
More than half of them as well (56 percent) believed that their marriage could have lasted if they had “a better understanding of the values and morals” of their boyfriends/girlfriends before marrying them.

How understanding divorce can help your marriage | Jeannie Suk Gersen

Celebrity Divorce 2023

People magazine created a list of married celebrities who split up in 2023.
What could be the possible factors leading to their divorce? Here are some of them:
  • Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner (marriage: 18 years; children: 3)
  • Per Us Weekly, Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott (marriage: 17 years; 1 child)
  • Shannen Doherty and photographer Kurt Iswarienko (marriage: 11 years)
  • Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth (marriage: 11 years; 1 child)
  • Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello (marriage: 7 years)
  • Corey Feldman and Canadian fashion model Courtney Anne Mitchell (marriage: 7 years; issues cited: Mitchell’s health problems and having “grown apart”)
  • Ariana Grande and real estate agent Dalton Gomez (marriage: 2 years)
  • Alex Pettyfer and German model Toni Garrn (marriage: 2 years; 1 child)
  • Britney Spears and Iranian-American model Sam Asghari (marriage: 14 months)
When it comes to a celebrity divorce, the factors leading to divorce are usually not mentioned in details.
Sam Asghari and Britney Spears leaning on each other’s back; Joe Manganiello and Sofia Vergara smiling
Sam Asghari and Britney Spears leaning on each other’s back; Joe Manganiello and Sofia Vergara smiling

People Also Ask

How Long Is The Quickest Divorce?

According to Citizens Advice, the completion of a divorce takes “at least six months,” but this estimated length applies to England.
In the U.S., per New York-based divorce service SAS for Women, these states process divorce papers quite fast:
  • Alaska
  • South Dakota
  • Washington
How fast? The site says that a divorce can be finalized in less than two months in Alaska and South Dakota.

What Is The Easiest Country To Get A Divorce In?

Divorce is easy to process in the following countries, according to Advokatsmart:
  • Argentina
  • Mexico
  • Norway
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

What Country Is Divorce Illegal?

The only two countries as of this writing where divorce remains illegal are:
  • the Philippines in Southeast Asia
  • the Vatican City in Europe

Final Thoughts

Were you able to guess correctly some of the factors leading to divorce?
The intricate web of factors that contribute to the decision to end a marital relationship varies widely, reflecting the complex interplay of individual, societal, and relational dynamics.
Those reasons make divorce a profound and often emotionally charged event.
Knowing and understanding the factors leading to divorce can shed light on the motivations and challenges that couples face when contemplating or navigating the difficult path of divorce.
Jump to
Karan Emery

Karan Emery

Karan Emery, an accomplished researcher and leader in health sciences, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals, brings over two decades of experience to the table. Holding a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Stanford University, Karan's credentials underscore her authority in the field. With a track record of groundbreaking research and numerous peer-reviewed publications in prestigious journals, Karan's expertise is widely recognized in the scientific community. Her writing style is characterized by its clarity and meticulous attention to detail, making complex scientific concepts accessible to a broad audience. Apart from her professional endeavors, Karan enjoys cooking, learning about different cultures and languages, watching documentaries, and visiting historical landmarks. Committed to advancing knowledge and improving health outcomes, Karan Emery continues to make significant contributions to the fields of health, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals.
Frazer Pugh

Frazer Pugh

Frazer Pugh is a distinguished expert in finance and business, boasting over 6 years of experience. Holding an MBA in Finance from Stanford University, Frazer's credentials underscore his authority and expertise in the field. With a successful track record in executive roles and as a published author of influential articles on financial strategy, his insights are both deep and practical. Beyond his professional life, Frazer is an avid traveler and culinary enthusiast, drawing inspiration from diverse cultures and cuisines. His commitment in delivering trustworthy analysis and actionable advice reflects his dedication to shaping the world of finance and business, making a significant impact through his work.
Latest Articles
Popular Articles