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Why Do People Get Divorced? 3 Possible Reasons

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to actually pinpoint the leading causes of divorce in the U.S. because “no fault” divorce has been in place for decades in most states, and in a “no fault” state, a spouse need only cite “irreconcilable differences” or “incompatibility” as his or her reason for divorce. Because of this, there are few legal records of value for social scientists to study

Well, here are three extremely common problems that often lead to divorce.

1. Addiction and Mental Health Problems:

According to the article, “Depression and Divorce” at webmd.com, counselor Joan R. Sherman, MFT says that no one knows for sure how frequently depression is to blame for marriage problems, but she sees a lot of couples who seek counseling because one of the partners has clinical depression.

Depression is not really a “cause” of divorce, but many consequences of untreated depression are. Sherman explains that she never hears anyone say, “I got a divorce because my wife was depressed,” but she hears, “My spouse became distant and had an affair,” in situations where depression was probably a big factor in a marriage’s demise.

Depression often leads to other problems:

  • A depressed spouse may stop eating, start overeating, sleep too much, sleep too little, or have difficulty staying connected emotionally with his or her partner.
  • A depressed person can have a higher risk of losing his or her job.
  • A depressed person, with undiagnosed or untreated depression, is likely to self-medicate using alcohol or drugs.

2. Sexual Problems and Divorce

Lots of people (mostly men… in my opinion) think that lack of sex, or boring sex, is one of the biggest causes of divorce. However, divorce Attorney Wendy Jaffe, author of the book, The Nine Symptoms of Divorce, says that the issues concerning sex and divorce are quite often misunderstood:

“People have this impression that the sex problems that cause divorce are couples arguing over, ‘Should it be once a week? Should it be twice a week?’…Those are not the sex issues that cause divorce. What divorce lawyers are saying is that people who aren’t having sex at all… (people who) haven’t had sex for a year or two years to five years (are the ones getting divorced).”

So, is sex, or rather the lack of satisfying sex, one of the main causes of divorce?  It’s hard to know for sure. I don’t think anyone goes to his lawyer and says, “I want a divorce because my wife is boring in bed.”  So, I have a feeling that Ms. Jaffe is absolutely right.

3. Money Problems and Divorce

Contrary to conventional wisdom, a lack of money is does not usually cause divorces. However, there are other stressful ways that finances can cause marital rifts. Wendy Jaffe says that after practicing law in Beverly Hills she knows that the amount of money involved is not the problem. She says that it’s how people handle their money that causes the friction.

Money issues that often lead to divorce:

  • Personality Conflicts: One common example is when a spender is married to a saver.
  • Radical Changes in Income: Problems occur when there are extreme highs or lows in income (job loss, winning the lottery). Marriages usually do well when income is stable.
  • Control Issues: It’s always a problem when one person (often a high earner) assumes total control over all money and has a need to make decisions unilaterally.
  • Gambling: Spouses married to gamblers will opt out of their marriages if the family is heading towards financial ruin.

Marital Problems and Solutions

The problems mentioned above do not always lead to divorce. Many times couples are able to find a way to stay together and work through their problems. Sometimes a couple who wants to make their marriage work needs the help of a therapist, a physician (for antidepressants), or a religious counselor (priest, rabbi, minister). And, there are many stories of couples who have had long, happy marriages after a long-term affair was exposed.

Of course, many situations where adultery was involved took lots of soul searching and hard work. (Or maybe, some of the wives were just as happy to have their husbands gone and out of the house, so they could raise their children in peace…hey, you never REALLY know what’s going on in the minds of your friends and your neighbors.)

Counseling does not always help with cases of depression, addiction, sexual problems, money problems, infidelity, control issues, mental health issues, or whatever. And…sometimes, for safety reasons…the only answer is divorce. However, most couples should consider other options before divorcing. A divorce can have devastating effects on everyone involved.

I don’t want to come across as a holier-than-thou know-it-all who thinks everyone should always stay married at all costs. I’ve been divorced twice. God only knows where I would have been if I had tried to stay in either situation. I think I did the right thing both times. It’s not that I didn’t love my husbands, it’s just that the situations were really, really difficult in their own ways. Part of the problems were my fault, but I just want you to know that (even though I keep telling you that I hate divorce), there are some times when divorce IS the right solution. But, being “bored” is not one of them. Wanting to get a horse, is not one of them. But, I just want what is best for you and your family.

Note: I am neither a lawyer nor a divorce counselor. I try to answer comments but I cannot give specific legal advice or answer specific mental health questions. Every state has different laws concerning divorce and every mental health issue is specific to the situation. So, if you want specific advice, please talk to a specialist.

What do you think of this article? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. It won't show up until I have a chance to approve it and I'm sooooo far behind this week. I may be at a rodeo instead of approving your comments (seriously, a rodeo in Oregon)... be patient, but leave a comment if you have any random thoughts.

More Articles for Baby Boomer Women:

How Divorce Affects Your Business if You Co-Own With Your Spouse

Divorce Over 50: Gray Divorce - The Good & the Bad

Surviving Infidelity: 5 Steps to Repair Your Relationship

Resources:

  • Divorce.com. "Top Five Ways That Money Problems Cause Divorce"
  • Doheny, Kathleen. "Depression and Divorce: How Does Depression Affect Marriage and Relationships?" webmd.com
  • Bethanne Patrick interview with Wendy Jaffee. "The Nine Symptoms of Divorce"

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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