In an age of economic uncertainty, high mental illness rates, and social media pressure, divorce seems practically inevitable, particularly for spouses facing significant financial concerns or issues with compatibility. Surprisingly, the divorce rate has been on the decline for decades. This is great news, but not necessarily enough to console couples facing the following marital problems:
Money problems are a leading cause of divorce, A 2012 Family Relations study titled “Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce” found that spouses who argued about money early in their marriage were far more likely to divorce — even if they were financially stable.
A tendency to argue about money is especially damaging among those with significant financial pressure, including low incomes and high debt. Unfortunately, low-income spouses lack access to counseling and other resources capable of getting their marriage back on track.
Alleged rates of infidelity vary significantly from one study to the next, but even conservative estimates are alarming. Experts at Psych Central estimate that, in any given year, the chances of an affair occurring are less than 6 percent. However, over the course of an entire relationship, the chances of infidelity increase to a concerning 25 percent. Cheating is less likely among married couples than those in long-term or cohabiting relationships, however. Additionally, the likelihood of infidelity largely depends on age and education level, with older and better-educated spouses less likely to break their vows.
Infidelity alone does not always cause divorce; many cheating spouses are able to convince their significant others to stick around. When infidelity leads to divorce, the trigger is typically a breakdown of trust. Feelings of rejection or abandonment may cause the spouse who was cheated on to lash out, further harming an already fragile relationship.
Often, spouses who commit infidelity claim that their behavior was sparked by sexual incompatibility, or, as some call it, a ‘dead bedroom.’ Typically, if sex is the chief cause of relationship difficulties, the frequency (or lack thereof) of the act is to blame. Couples with mismatched sex drives inevitably struggle; one spouse may feel pressured or objectified, while the other may feel rejected if turned down too often. Other spouses are satisfied with the frequency, but bothered by a perception of fading passion, brought about by years, even decades of the same bedroom routine.
Spouses agree to be there for better or for worse, but for the loved ones of addicts, the for worse part of that statement could involve seriously damaging behavior. Often, the addiction itself is not the chief problem, but rather, the way the addiction causes the sufferer to behave. For example, addicts are more likely to lie, steal, and get in trouble with the law. All this places a huge burden on the spouse, who experiences great emotional duress, and, if not willing to take a stand, risks being labeled an enabler. Some spouses are able to stick it out and provide much-needed emotional support, but others simply have to get out for the sake of their own mental health.
The devastating impact of addiction was especially evident in a 2014 Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs study involving statistics from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. During the first and second waves of the study, the divorce rate for those with diagnosable alcoholism was 15.5 percent, compared to just 4.8 percent for couples without alcohol abuse problems.
Addiction is often accompanied by depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems. Unfortunately, divorce is just as likely for those with mental health disorders that do not manifest themselves in addiction. The statistics for bipolar relationships are especially sobering; experts at Psych Central estimate that as many as 90 percent of marriages involving bipolar disorder end in divorce. Divorce rates are lower for other mental illnesses, but still far too high. For example, a study conducted by Sion Hospital’s Dr. Vikas Deshmukh observed a divorce rate of 42 percent for Indian couples in which one spouse had diagnosable schizophrenia.
As with addiction, the problem is not necessarily the mental health issue itself, but rather, the unacceptable behavior that accompanies the disorder. For example, those with bipolar disorder are more likely to lash out at their partners. Likewise, experts believe that both bipolar disorder and depression increase the likelihood of infidelity. Other spouses may become frustrated by what they perceive as a refusal to seek help. Marital outcomes are best when spouses with mental health issues are able to manage their symptoms, ideally through a mix of psychiatry and counseling.
Some spouses get along famously until they have kids, at which point they begin to disagree on who should be responsible for the bulk of the childcare, where their children should attend school, and how they should be disciplined. High-profile divorces involving child rearing differences are common, with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie serving as a particularly notable example.
In some cases, couples divorce before they ever have the opportunity to bicker about children, simply because they do not see eye to eye on whether they should have kids in the first place. This is more likely to cause divorce if partners fail to talk through their expectations before getting married.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Snapchat are increasingly playing a role in divorce. A 2015 Slater and Gordon study found that one in seven spouses had considered divorce due to the way their significant other behaved on social media. What’s more, one in four respondents claimed that at least one argument per week was sparked by social media conduct. Although social media is rarely the chief cause of divorce, the never-ending quarrels it sparks can make divorce more likely.
If you have decided that the issues in your relationship warrant a divorce, it is imperative that you seek counsel from somebody you can trust. At Divorce in Peace, our goal is to help you achieve the most amicable divorce possible. To learn more, check out our directory of professionals.