Divorce is a painful and often challenging experience for couples. While every relationship is unique, research suggests that there are some common behaviours and issues that can contribute to the breakdown of a marriage. By examining these commonalities, we can gain insight into the factors that contribute to divorce and potentially avoid these pitfalls in our own relationships. Let’s look at some of the things that divorced couples have in common.
Lack of communication
Communication is a crucial element of healthy relationships. The chief culprit in divorce is a lack of communication. People often make assumptions about what their partner knows. If you don’t communicate how you feel or what you think there’s no way to know your partner knows, and no way to handle conflict. Conflict is unavoidable in every relationship and communication is the way to address it.
Related to communication shortfalls are the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The four horsemen are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling.
- Criticism is unavoidable in relationships but if you find you are constantly criticizing each other, there may be a problem.
- Contempt is one the scariest of the four horsemen and it concerns any statement or behaviour that asserts superiority over your partner including putting them down, name-calling, sneering, sarcasm, hostility, and such.
- Defensiveness is a way for people to act like victims and not take responsibility for their mistakes and behaviour. Rather than opening up communication, it hinders it.
- Stonewalling is conflict avoiding strategy in which you physically leave or completely shut down. It can include storming out, mumbling and muttering and even giving the silent treatment.
Money is a significant source of stress in people’s lives and marriages are not exempt from its effects. For this reason, financial troubles are a leading cause of divorce. They put a strain on the relationship that can make it difficult for many couples to withstand. Financial problems can arise from things like:
- Lack of financial transparency and honesty around finances
- Different spending habits
- Income disparity where one person by virtue of earning more creates a power imbalance in the relationship or something like job loss
- Disagreements over financial goals
- Unexpected expenses
- Financial dependents like family and friends
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Being controlling in a relationship can be damaging, leading to the breakdown of a relationship. When one partner tries to control the other, it can create feelings of resentment, frustration and even fear. Eventually, the relationship becomes unstable and can eventually lead to divorce. Controlling behaviour includes things like:
- Jealousy and possessiveness
- Financial control
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