We don’t want to get all negative Nancy here, but almost half the population gets divorced. And, those are first marriages. Almost 70% of second marriages end in divorce. Yikes.
So, engaged fiance, how can you ensure you never end up unhappy and on the road to a divorce? Well, step #1 is to understand why people get divorced in the first place.
Millennials and Marriage
Today, many millennials are choosing to get married later in life. In fact, an unprecedented number millennials remain unmarried well into their forties. No, this is not because millennials are afraid to commit! They are simply choosing to live together, adopt fur children together, and postpone walking down the aisle.
Historically, marriage was an institution of economic and religious ends, not love and emotion. Neither of these premises imbued much of an idea of personal happiness. Over time, however, as many unions have become more about personal choice, life goals, and, well, happiness, that has opened the door to divorce. Also known as, the personal decision that a marriage is no longer fulfilling the individual’s needs or wants, and expectations or goals. Hmmmm.
What are the most common reasons that cause couples to divorce? Here they are, in no particular order.
Reason #1: Lack of Commitment to the Marriage
In order to reman committed to your marriage over time, you must make your marriage a top priority. This means making the time to connect with one another, go on dates, *get off instagram and twitter,* and talk to each other. Have little adventures together. Finding the time, staying on track, and keeping yourselves motivated can feel like major challenges when you are trying to develop new habits. Learning to prioritize your relationship by claiming time exclusively for the two of you is crucial for long-term success.
Reason #2: Disagreements Over Life Decisions
56% of people surveyed said that conflict was an issue that prompted their divorce. Couples who have called it quits due to arguing over certain details of the life they want, often site arguments over the decision to have children as a key issue. Why? The decision to have children or not, is often a major deal breaker for people.
When it comes to the decision of whether or not to have kids, emotional run high. Many millennials who were on the fence of this decision before 2020, are not even more so since the pandemic. In fact, about 19% of older millennials say they have decided not to have a child because of the pandemic, according to a survey. Among those surveyed who who want children less since the pandemic, the most common reason given is that they don’t want to bring a child into the world at this point in time, as well as fears about economic uncertainty. Many of these millennials had already waited until their 30s to seriously start thinking about having children, due to student loan debt and the Great Recession’s impact on their job stability. The pandemic is now making it even more difficult for older millennials to start families.
Our advice? Engagement means things are getting really serious. Make sure you have the talk with your future spouse about whether or not kids are in your future as soon as you get engaged, along with the details. When? How do we feel about this decision financially? These are questions you should really consider.
Reason #3: Infidelity
Another issue that can arise in a marriage and cause divorce is infidelity. Unfaithfulness, whether having an extramarital affair or emotionally affair, is one of the most obvious reasons identified as a critical point in a marriage that is deteriorating. There is no blanket explanation for why a cheating spouse chooses to cheat whether that infidelity is emotional or physical. Many extramarital affairs begin as innocent friendships, turning into emotional affairs and eventually become physical over time. This leads us to wonder whether the underling issue in the marriage is a lack of commitment, as mentioned in reason #1, or a general lack of attention from the other partner that eventually leads to the affair. One thing is for sure- when couples do not make time to nurture their connection with each other, spouses may begin to seek the fulfillment of those needs outside of the marriage. Of course, we are not saying that every act of infidelity begins like this, but this is a common sequence of events.
Reason #4: Misaligned Expectations
Communication in a relationship is key- always. One common reason for divorce is misaligned expectations. What does this mean exactly? Well, this is a broad stroke, but means that you are not on the same page with *how* you want to live your life. Do you plan to live in the city or the country? Do you want to have kids or live childless and free? Do you want to quit your jobs and travel the world for a year or remain career focused, stay put and take one two week vacation? These sound like small things in the grand scheme of a marriage- but, they are not. The *how* you want to live your life, what your goals and expectations are for your marriage, are incredibly important. Discuss them before you get married.
Reason #5: Money
It’s no surprise that money is probably the most common cause of conflict in marriages and relationships. A study conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) shoed that 75% of Americans experience stress around finances, and that 25% of Americans would consider that financial stress extreme. Another study found that 35% of couples attributed their disagreements around money as the main cause for their relationship stress and eventual breakdown. Among those surveyed in the 44-54 age group, 44% said money was a primary cause for continued relationship discourse.
Getting a prenup could resolve most of these issues. Just sayin’.
Reason #6: Abuse
Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse is devastating to a relationship and is reported to be the cause of divorce in 29% of survey participants’ experiences. This statistic is shocking and certainly deserving of attention. The erosion of an abusive marriage is far more complicated than a divorce without abuse. If you believe you are in an abusive relationship and wish to get out, ensuring your safety is paramount. Always remember that help is available. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in a relationship, there are many professionals available to help. Do not hesitate to reach out for support and utilize every resource at your disposal, like the National Domestic Violence Hotline. This resource is available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE. You are never alone.
Reason #7: Substance Abuse or Addiction
Addiction and substance abuse are significant factors in the dissolution of a marriage. Alcohol use disorders in particular have been shown to be highly predictive of divorce or separation. Involvement with alcohol even short of meeting clinical criteria for a substance abuse disorder have significant predictive value for marital dissolution in the long run.
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].