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What are the most common causes of divorce?

Divorce is a common outcome of many marriages today. Most people, when they wed, probably think optimistically about their relationship and never consider the possibility of divorce. As we all know, however, it can happen to anyone. If you're considering divorce, you may feel as though you're alone.

Even if you know other people who have divorced, you might wonder if anyone else has similar reasons for separation. A recent study examined several divorced couples and determined the most common reasons people decide to end their marriage.

Study results

The National Center for Biotechnology Information conducted the study. It looked at 52 now-divorced people who underwent a program called "PREP" - Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program – before they married. PREP aimed to enhance couples' skills in communication. The researchers looked at the couples who had ended up divorced fourteen years after completing the program. The findings revealed the top 11 reasons that people decide to divorce. Respondents were allowed to list multiple factors, which included the following:

  • Lack of commitment – At least 75 percent of the study participants reported a lack of commitment as a contributing factor in their divorce. One person reported that she didn't feel romantic towards her husband and as though their relationship was more friendly than amorous.
  • Infidelity – Nearly 60 percent reported that an affair was a cause for their divorces. Researchers indicated that many people said that cheating was the last straw.
  • Excessive arguing and conflict – Around 58 percent of respondents said that the disagreements they had with their spouses couldn't be resolved and that they worsened as time passed.
  • Too young when married – Just over 45 percent said that they believed they should not have married at a young age. Those who cited this reason married, on average, when they were 23.3 years old.
  • Financial woes – You might have thought that money problems would be the number one reason couples divorce, but this study contradicts that idea. Thirty-six percent of study participants cited financial issues as a catalyst for divorce, though many said it was not their biggest reason.
  • Addiction or substance abuse – Almost 35 percent of respondents blamed substance abuse for their divorce. When researchers looked at both partners together, they found that only a third of survey respondents both acknowledged that addiction or substance abuse was a problem.
  • Domestic abuse or violence – The percentage of study participants who said that physical and emotional abuse was a reason for divorce was 23.5 percent. The abuse often followed a repeated pattern of a partner showing great remorse after an abusive incident.
  • Health problems – While many people in Arizona likely vow "in sickness and in health", a little over 18 percent of respondents said that health problems contributed to their divorce. One expert says that health problems can cause financial strain, a loss of individuality and imbalance in a marriage.
  • Absence of family support – About 17 percent of survey respondents cited a lack of familial support as a reason for divorce. A different study showed that a husband having a close relationship with his in-laws could decrease the risk of divorce, while the opposite was true for wives – being close to her husband's family increased the likelihood she would divorce.
  • Insufficient premarital education – Despite utilizing the PREP course that spurred this very study, 13.3 percent of participants said that they did not have enough counseling before they wed. Some respondents said that though the course taught communication, it did not prepare partners for growth or change in a marriage.
  • Religious differences – You might assume that religious differences would have affected a higher percentage of divorces, but respondents listed it as a factor in only 13.3 percent of their marriages. Part of that may be because many married couples report having the same religion.

As you can see, many reasons for ending a marriage exist.

Your divorce, your reasons

No matter what the reasons are that you might consider getting a divorce, you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. The dissolution of a marriage is not just common, but also often necessary for a person's future happiness.

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