Most Common Reasons for Divorce as Seen From Recent Research

Parag Narang | Updated: 17-07-2020 16:04 IST | Created: 17-07-2020 16:03 IST
Most Common Reasons for Divorce as Seen From Recent Research
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  • Country:
  • United States

Married life is not always a fairy tale for everyone, with a bright beginning and a happy ending. Sadly, 42% of first-time marriages in the United States end up in divorce. For second marriages, this figure rises to 60%, and for third ones, it reaches an alarming 72%.

According to Jamie Kurtz, a California divorce lawyer who has studied the causes of divorce based on her clients’ cases, the most frequent reason for divorce is dissatisfaction with marital relations. The research included 295 couples who were married for at least 7 years.  It turned out that, in 40% of cases, spouses filed for divorce because their significant other was unwilling to change their behavior or even try to work on their relationship. How come a marriage that starts with a promise of a long and happy life ends up with scandals and mutual disgust? 

From the history of divorce hardships in the United States

Until 1970, a law was in place in all states that required a substantial reason for a divorce. The mere desire of the parties was not enough. One of the spouses had to prove that the other spouse committed an offense that was incompatible with the concept of marriage.

As a result, couples had to get creative and sometimes even stage non-existent misconduct to circumvent existing legislation. In New York, “conspiracy” was widespread, when a wife came home at a particular time and “suddenly” found her husband with a lover. Screams were heard throughout the house, and neighbors were called in as witnesses. At the trial, the wife would accuse her husband of infidelity, the husband would plead guilty, and that was how they would get a divorce. 

In California, married couples resolved the issue in another fashion. They actively exploited the concept of domestic violence. According to the developed scheme, the wife regularly accused her husband of cruel treatment in front of neighbors and friends. After some time, she could file a lawsuit, calling on the witnesses’ testaments as proof.

In the 50s, more than 70% of marriages in California were terminated precisely for this reason. Then Ronald Reagan, the governor of California, put an end to this torment and signed a law in 1969 that abolished the need to prove the cause for the divorce. From this moment, the dissolution of marriage became much more accessible. The last state to adopt no-fault divorce was New York. Governor Patterson only just signed the relevant law in 2010.

What are the main reasons for divorce in America today?

According to Jamie Kurtz’s research, one of the most common reasons for marriage dissolution is the spouses’ incompatibility. We can find differences in education and professional interests, and behind this broad concept, racial, national, and religious contradictions. There are even divorces in which it is nearly impossible to identify anyone’s fault.

Generally, the laws of most states grant a divorce on the ground of “irretrievable breakdown,” which simply means incompatibility. In some cases, when one of the spouses denies that the marriage is broken, more serious arguments may be needed, such as adultery, violence, alcoholism, drug addiction, or abandonment. 

The most common reasons for initiating a divorce procedure are:

  1. Incompatibility of racial, national, religious and other beliefs;
  2. Adultery;
  3. Domestic violence;
  4. Regular quarrels and lack of understanding;
  5. Lack of intimacy;
  6. Insufficient financial provisions.

Incompatibility of racial, national, religious or other beliefs

Apart from racial, national, and religious contradictions, a family unity can suffer from differences in upbringing and mentality, conflicting ideas about raising children, the distribution of responsibilities in the family, and even different political views.

Conflicts in interracial marriages arise because of opposite views on marriage and parenting, understanding gender roles, and decisions about a household budget. Something similar happens when spouses are of different religions. It is difficult for them to agree on what traditions to adhere to or in which religion to raise the children. Therefore, the divorce rate of such couples is higher than that of people of the same faith.


Adultery is a classic reason for divorce. Cheating is probably the hardest obstacle to forgive, and it can destroy the family. With the spread of AIDS and STDs, people no longer want to risk their lives and health, suffering from a partner’s unfaithfulness. Aside from this, a simple loss of trust is already enough reason for many to dissolve their marriage. It makes no sense to live with someone you do not trust.

Infidelity occurs more often in marriages between young people than in mature ones. It can be explained by immaturity, the frivolity of spouses, and the lack of life experience to fully accept family values.

Domestic violence

Unfortunately, domestic violence is not a rare thing in the US. A large percentage of divorces are due to cruel treatment. This concept refers not only to physical but also mental abuse.

Examples of such behavior are derogatory comments about the appearance of a loved one and complete control of the spouse's behavior, including phone calls and movement around the city. Such a partner tries to limit their spouse’s ability to leave the house and communicate with friends and relatives. It is an obvious case of emotional abuse, which can be further aggravated by sexual or physical violence. 

Regular quarrels and lack of understanding and the inability to find compromises remains a relatively common reason for divorce. Constant quarrels and scandals or complete alienation between spouses undermine the foundation of a healthy relationship.

For example, conflicts may arise when one of the spouses spends a lot of time away from home, while the other wants both of them to be together 24/7. Such situations are quite widespread in many families and can cause serious conflicts.

Lack of intimacy

The lack of intimacy in the family dramatically affects its strength. Because of dissatisfaction in sexual life, even long marriages can easily break up. Married people want to feel like they are attracted to each other, and they both strive for intimacy to bring them complete satisfaction.

If the spouses have issues with this side of their relationships, they will emotionally distance themselves from one another to the point where they no longer feel like a couple. As a result, disputes, scandals, and unwillingness to listen to the partner’s opinion start to slowly destroy the marriage.

The insufficient financial provision

Money often becomes a reason for divorces in American families. The difficult financial situation and associated conflicts can negatively affect even the most reliable and loving families.

It is usually the woman who cannot stand the lack of money. They are intolerant of the situation where their husband is unemployed or has a low salary. Men, on the contrary, don’t mind when a wife does not work. But they are not ready to put up with the fact that they are always blamed for not earning enough money.


Under the pressure of various circumstances, even the happiest marriages can break apart. No matter how strange it sounds, a divorce may be the only way to fix both partners’ lives. Whatever the reasons are for losing the desire to stay together as a family, if the relationship ceases to bring joy and satisfaction, it’s high time to end it altogether and start from a clean slate.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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