In my practice of law since 1989, my firm has handled many divorce cases, and have spoken with various mental health experts. Between our experience, as a law firm handling divorce cases, as well as what we have discovered from our study of the subject with relationship experts, we have learned some common causes of divorce. Based on those experiences, we offer the following observations.

Once upon a time, divorce was rare and frowned-upon by American society. During the Twentieth Century, however, several societal changes occurred, which caused the divorce rate to spike. It became one of the highest in the world.[i] Among these changes were women’s ability to support themselves financially; an increased mobility of society, where the members of extended families lived apart from one another; and, the dawning of the Sexual Revolution, which led to  a change of view about  previously-married people (especially women).

One of the most important factors, though, was the shift in view of marriage from being a lifetime family obligation that one takes, to being a source of personal fulfillment and joy. With this shift in view, a marriage which did not bring such pleasant emotions became considered as not worthy of protecting and extending.[ii]Various stress factors can lead to that lack of fulfillment and lack of joy. We will begin exploring two (2) of those today. Later posts will discuss this topic further.

Research into the area by multiple studies shows, unsurprisingly, that frequent conflict leads to a breakdown in the marital relationship. Each argument, or harsh word uttered, pushes the parties apart, eventually leading to a devaluing of one’s partner, and the marriage itself, unless appropriate intimacy-building measures are taken. There are resources for doing this available on the web. But, when there is already negative energy within a marriage relationship, working with a good therapist or counselor can be invaluable.[iii]

Another common cause of divorce is a lack of commitment; or often more appropriately, a lack of sufficient commitment, of the right type, from each spouse. Let me explain. There are some marriages in which both spouses are committed to the marriage, but each to a different degree (“Asymmetrical Commitment.”).  This is unhealthy, and can cause deterioration of the marriage, as one spouse begins to feel devalued by the other.

In addition to needing a similarly strong commitment to the marriage, the right type of commitment is also important. A commitment to the marriage for moral reasons, such as for religious reasons; but, without a personal commitment to the marriage, is unlikely to result in a healthy relationship. The same is true when there is a structural commitment to stay in the marriage “for the kids,’ or for financial reasons. A personal commitment to stay in the marriage, because it is the most important thing in your life, however, is the type of commitment that leads to healthy, happy marriages. Spouses having this type of commitment stay in their marriage, because they want to do so; not because they feel like they should do so, or must do so.

Today, we have begun our study of the common causes of divorce. I hope that this has been helpful. More will follow, so please follow this site for updates. Until next time, I am the lawyer who says “I hope that you never have need to use our divorce services.”



[i] Wu Z. Schimmele C. M. 2007 Uncoupling in late life Generations 31 41–46

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] It is important that each spouse bring to the counseling, a commitment to working on oneself to improve the relationship. Merely showing-up to complain about the other spouse is very unlikely to be successful. Even if one spouse is primarily responsible for the breakdown of the marriage, each partner can improve as a spouse; even if that means simply not enabling the other spouse.

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