Rebekah Gregory and her husband made headlines because they were separating. A couple headed for divorce is pretty commonplace in America but this couple was special. They were both survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing and fell in love- a manifestation that joy can come out of hardship. But they called it quits less than one year after their dream wedding. It’s reasonable to assume that the stresses stemming from their injuries (surgeries, rehabilitation, major physical changes) probably played a major role in the relationship’s demise.
When major trials occur within a relationship, divorce is a common outcome. This fact makes up the first of ten reasons for divorce that we’ve compiled, based on case studies, statistics, and professional opinion.
10. Major Life Trauma
Elizabeth Ochoa, PhD, and marriage counselor opines that although couples may grow closer from a traumatic event they also may ultimately push each other away. “In order to heal, sometimes people need to let go of that painful experience and anything that reminds them of it,” Ochoa says.
Critical injuries, the death of a child or infertility are some motives that drive couples apart and prompt divorce. “Recollections can be triggered by the presence of the other person, and even just being with them becomes painful in and of itself,” Ochoa concludes.
It’s widely reported that statistically, 60% of men and 40% of women will participate in an extramarital affair at some point in their marriage. (divorcesupport.com) And in a national panel conducted by Pennsylvania State University, infidelity was cited as the number one cause.
It’s one of the most painful things a spouse can endure and oftentimes, the unfaithful party is unwilling to go to counseling after an affair. Therapists concur that in this case, “it might be best to separate and divorce. The reason is to avoid becoming what could be labeled an ‘enabler’ who overlooks serious actions committed by the spouse in the blind hope that they might change their ways. That is a good way to ‘continue to invest in a bankrupt corporation.’”
8. Relationship Unhealthy to Begin With
Celebrity therapist, Dr. Laura Schlesinger, offers a very reasonable idea on what creates the foundation of a good marriage. She says, “Early on in the relationship, was the quality of the relationship really, really, really good? I don’t mean way in the beginning when you both were just ga-ga, but for years was it good? If that’s a ‘yes’ then we can lean on that…If we don’t have a time like that, it’s less likely the relationships going to work.”
A good marriage is the meeting of two minds to create a unified life together. If the parties involved never combined their individual lives from the beginning, this can spell trouble ahead. As the experts at Psychcentral.com report, “If you have not developed a genuine ‘we’ in your relationship, this would be the time to either commit to learning how to do that, or to admit that you have never really had a marriage in the first place.”
7. Lost Sense of Self
As we’ve mentioned, it’s important to sacrifice some of your autonomy for the sake of a unified marriage. But oftentimes in a marriage, people can forget their defining traits and interests, in an effort to please their spouse. Research conducted on divorce suggests that 24% of men and 44% of women felt a lack of autonomy in their marriage. (couplescounselingchicago.net)
This lack of individuality isn’t healthy or personally fulfilling, leading to an overall unhappiness for the spouse that has lost their identity. “When you don’t have your own interests or the opportunity to express yourself outside of coupledom, you become ‘couple dumb.’”
When addiction is present in a relationship, it is as if the addictive element is another party in the relationship. The addicted spouse uses his addiction to cope with pain, excitement, boredom, and other emotions. Instead of leaning on their spouse, they indulge in their addiction to deal with them.
In one study, it was reported that as many as 45% of couples decide to split because of substance dependence issues. (couplescounselingchicago.net) Many times, addiction can cause reckless behavior and instability in the life of the addicted spouse. These consequences directly affect their spouse and make it very difficult for their needs to be met.
Abuse takes on many forms- physical, emotional, financial, and sexual. When one or more of these is present in a union, the relationship becomes demoralizing and toxic.
With physical abuse, the victim suffers from physical pain, but also feels intense emotional trauma. Emotional abuse leads to health problems including “severe depression, anxiety, persistent headaches, back and stomach problems.” Other symptoms include panic attacks, irritability, emotional numbness, eating irregularities, and insomnia.” (Audrey Valieriani’s book, Boot Camp for the Broken-Hearted)
Some signs that one is being emotionally abusive include:
- Refuses to acknowledge the value of others
- Doesn’t listen
- Humiliates others
- Ignores logic
- Is jealous and possessive
- Makes you feel guilty for no reason
4. Financial Difficulties
Sonya Britt, a Kansas State University researcher, found that financial arguments were a top predictor for divorce “regardless of their income, debt or net worth.” The crux of these arguments is almost always that a spouse is foolishly spending money. According to Forbes, “when a spouse feels the other spends their money foolishly, it increases the likelihood of divorce by 45%.”
In a study undertaken by the National Survey of Families and Households looking at 4,500 couples, it was determined that “arguments about money were longer and usually more intense than other types of marital disagreements.” Because financial choices are made every day and are so important to leading a stable and happy life, a couple must be able to peacefully handle the issue, or their relationship is unsound.
3. Marriage at a Young Age
In relationships, there is a tendency for spouses to become less similar over time, especially those who marry at young ages. (Huffington Post) Younger people are still forming their attitudes, interests, and goals that can drastically change with age and experience. People are marrying at an older age, which has helped decrease the divorce rate in America in recent years. The median age for marriage in the 1950s was 23 for men and 20 for women. In 2004, it rose to 27 for men and 26 for women
But for couples who decided to marry in their early youth, they “report more marital problems and experience a greater risk of divorce than individuals who marry at older ages.” (The Pennsylvania State University study)
2. Personal Growth/ Mid-Life Crisis
When a spouse enters an identity crisis, it can be an excruciating experience for the spouse that is trying to hold the marriage together. This spouse has little to no control over the decisions that their partner makes and they may feel like they don’t recognize them. They don’t know if and when their partner will come out of their crisis. “It might take the patience of Job and the result may still not be the one you want.” (midlifeclub.com)
Cathy Meyer, a divorce support expert, offers some sound advice for the spouse that is working to keep the marriage together:
“It is up to you and you alone how much bad behavior you are willing to put up with. If an extra-marital affair is too much to accept it is your right to set boundaries with your midlife crisis spouse. It is your right to file for a divorce and remove yourself from a marriage that is too painful.”
1. Unhealthy Environment for the Children
Many couples stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of their children. They believe that holding on to their marriage at all costs, is the best thing for them. But that may not be true. “Being a child of divorce can create an unhealthy legacy for kids to carry on, but so can remaining in a dysfunctional marriage,” says Dr. Sue Johnson, a clinical psychologist and relationship expert.
Studies have shown that the most damaging component in one’s childhood is conflict and volatility in the home, not a parent’s divorce. “If you are in a really high conflict relationship, it would be better for the kids, in many cases, for you to dissolve that relationship,” affirms Christine Carter, PhD, a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.
Although these factors can cause divorce, happiness and healing often follow the dissolution of a marriage. Studies have shown “the potential for a bright future [for] children of divorce.” They’re “able to recognize the pitfalls of romantic relationships.” (The University of Central Florida Undergraduate Research Journal) Women involved “experience less stress and better adjustment and are more likely to experience an increase in self-esteem and add new roles to their lives.” Men who share custody with their ex partner enjoy ample and individual time with their children, establishing a strong bond as a result. (Kathleen O’Connell Corcoran, Ph.D & Divorce Consultant) And a man’s available income increases by around one third after a divorce. (The Guardian)
After Rebekah Gregory’s divorce, she reconnected with her college sweetheart, Chris Varney, and they soon married: proof positive that joy can come out of hardship.
If you are looking for a divorce lawyer in San Jose, we are here to help. Please contact us today.
See our Infographic regarding common reasons for divorce