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Top Reasons People Get Divorced (and End Up Happier)

If you’re considering a divorce, you're far from alone. Many people consider divorce for years before filing paperwork. While couples divorce for many reasons – and every relationship is unique – some reasons for divorce are more common than others. In this blog, we look at these reasons, our survey results and how to proceed if you decide it’s time to end your marriage or domestic partnership.

Divorce is common

Divorce rates in the U.S. peaked in the 1980s and have been steadily (although not significantly) declining – but close to half of all marriages still end in divorce. For a number of reasons, divorce is more socially accepted today than it used to be. 

People are marrying later in life

One of the main reasons divorce has declined somewhat is that people are getting married later in life. This gives them a chance to really get to know their partner before making a lifelong commitment. 

Increased self-sufficiency

A reason for the increased acceptance of divorce is that women have become more independent in the U.S. over the past decades. In some cultures, and throughout history, women often played specific roles in society and were dependent on men for support. Today, women are no longer financially or socially dependent on their husbands and can support themselves and their children if they get divorced. This wasn't always the case, and it has led to a change in social norms. 

Increased social acceptance

Divorce is more accepted today because it's simply more common. With nearly 50% of marriages ending in divorce, it's no longer seen as something that only happens to others. People are more understanding and accepting of divorce because they know someone who has been through it. 

The kids will be all right

There is mounting evidence that kids do best when they have healthy relationships with both of their parents, and that they see their parents happy and modeling positive adult relationships. So, staying together only for the kids might not be in their best interests. Many couples are finding that their kids thrive after their divorce, as both parents are able to provide healthier, happier (separate) households.

Top 5 reasons for divorce

While every relationship is unique, there are some common threads that can lead to a divorce. Here are the five most common reasons couples get divorced in the U.S. today.

Infidelity 

Infidelity is a leading cause of divorce. In fact, it has been cited as a factor in up to 40% of all divorces in the states. If you suspect your spouse is having an extramarital affair, you may find it difficult to confront them and work through the issue. However, in some cases, if you are able to overcome infidelity, it can make your marriage stronger than before. 

Communication problems 

Poor communication is another common reason marriages end. Couples who do not communicate openly and honestly with each other are more likely to grow apart. If you and your spouse struggle with communication, it may be helpful to seek counseling from a licensed therapist or counselor. 

Financial problems 

Money problems are a major reason couples file for divorce. When couples can't agree on financial matters, it can cause a great deal of stress and conflict within the marriage. If you and your spouse argue about money on a regular basis, consider seeking professional help to resolve your differences. 

Boredom or lack of intimacy 

Boredom or lack of intimacy can lead to marital problems over time. If you find yourself feeling bored or unfulfilled in your marriage, it may be time to focus on your physical intimacy — spice things up. You may decide to seek marriage counseling or couples therapy to help improve your physical intimacy and other aspects of your relationship. 

Substance abuse 

Substance abuse is another common reason marriages end. If you or your spouse struggle with substance abuse, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible to save your marriage. 

Fault versus no-fault divorce

Fault divorce

Fault divorce is when one spouse alleges that the other spouse is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. The most common grounds for divorce in terms of fault are adultery, abandonment, physical abuse, emotional abuse, drug addiction, and mental illness. In some states, infidelity is also grounds for divorce. 

Alleging a fault divorce may help you get a larger share of the marital assets in your divorce process. Courts start with a presumption that you and your spouse will receive a fair or close to equal share of your marital assets. But if your spouse did something that caused the divorce, a court may provide you a larger share of the marital assets as compensation. So, in some cases, alleging fault in your divorce can be advantageous.

No-fault divorce

No-fault divorce is when neither spouse alleges the other is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. Instead, the married couple states that their grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences or the fact that their marriage has irretrievably broken down and they wish to end it. 

The no-fault divorce process is generally quicker and less expensive than fault divorce because there is no need to prove wrongdoing on behalf of either spouse. It may also be less emotionally charged than fault divorce since there is no need to assign blame. 

Suggested reading: Does It Matter Who’s “At Fault” in a Divorce?

Survey results: Why did you finally decide to get divorced?

We asked 100 people why they chose to divorce now. Here are the most popular responses. 

I filed for divorce now because…

  • “I didn’t want to feel obligated to have another kid.”
  • Covid.”
  • “I was losing my sanity.”
  • “My daughter grew up – I didn’t think I could do it when she was an infant.”
  • “I was losing my sense of who I am.”
  • “My kids had to live in a toxic home.”
  • “I left my high-demand religion.”
  • “I wanted to reconnect with myself.”
  • “The emotional abuse became physical abuse.”
  • “I completely lost my soul.”
  • “I wanted to have a second chance at living a happy life and having another child.”
  • “My physical health manifested at the same level as my mental health.”
  • “I didn’t want my kids to live their lives witnessing an unhealthy relationship dynamic between their parents.”
  • “We hated each other. We’re moving through a transition now and are friends! Zero fighting.”
  • “He put his hands on me again.”
  • “Didn’t want another lonely toxic holiday season for our kids.”
  • “I forgot I matter, too.”

If you’re thinking about divorce

The decision to divorce is not something that should be taken lightly. There are other avenues you could take before divorcing, such as going to therapy, talking to a clergyperson or counselor, and taking some time for yourself. 

Going to therapy

Sometimes, all a couple needs is to air their grievances in front of a professional. This can help them communicate better and work out their differences. Often, marriage counseling sessions end with the couple on good terms and feeling closer to one another.

Talking to a clergyperson or counselor

Going to someone who isn’t invested in your relationship can help shed light on the situation. They can provide an unbiased opinion and help point you in the right direction. Often, they’ve seen other couples go through similar situations and can guide you accordingly. 

Taking time for yourself 

What many people don’t realize is that couples often grow apart because they stopped focusing on themselves. To maintain a healthy marriage, it’s important to look after your own well-being. This includes pursuing hobbies and activities that are important to you, even if you must do them alone. When you take time for yourself, you come back to the relationship refreshed and with a new perspective. 

Talk to friends and family

Friends and family members can offer helpful insight because they know you and your partner well. They might see things you’re blind to because you’re too close to the situation. Talking to them about your problems might provide some clarity.

We don’t advocate jumping blindly into divorce. It’s a big decision, and some marriages can be saved. But if you know your marriage is over, don’t hide from that knowledge. It’ll be better for both of you to begin the process of dissolving your marriage and moving on to the next phase of your respective lives. Hello Divorce can help you achieve your goals by offering you the support and guidance needed to get a quick and effective divorce.