Top reasons for divorce

The top reasons for divorce are complex and most couples cite multiple causes for the decision to divorce.


Top reasons for divorce according to the National Library of Medicine are:

75% Lack of commitment
60% Infidelity or extramarital affairs
58% Conflict and arguing
45% Married too young
37% Financial problems
35% Substance abuse
24% Domestic violence
18% Lack of support from family
17% Health problems
13% Religious differences
13% Little or no premarital education

  • National Library of Medicine. List of Major Reasons for Divorce by Individuals and Couples Who Participated in PREP

After a Lack of Commitment and Infidelity, here are the next three top reasons for divorce

58% of couples report excessive conflict and arguing
45% believe they married too young
37% report financial problems as a major reason for divorce

You can see by the statistics that It’s typical for there to be multiple reasons for a divorce. Couples face many challenges in marriage. But over 69% of divorcing couples report that there is one “last straw” that pushes them over the edge and causes them to make the final decision to divorce their spouse.

The most common “Last Straw” causing divorce is infidelity, domestic violence, and substance abuse. When there was a last straw event, 24% of couples reported that infidelity was the catalyst for their divorce, 21% of couples reported domestic violence as the ultimate cause, while 12% said substance abuse was the deciding factor to divorce.

The Top Reasons for Divorce Explained

Lack of Commitment Is the #1 Top Reason for Divorce


A whopping 75% of all respondents cited a lack of commitment as the primary reason for their divorce.

What a sad commentary on our society that lack of commitment is the #1 reason for divorce. To begin with, many of us make a vow to each other and to God that we will love and stay with our spouse no matter what, until death separates us. Honoring that commitment sets the standard for unconditional love and forgiveness in a marriage. It also requires a lot of hard work!

Unfortunately, a great number of people aren’t willing to do the work necessary to build a good marriage. They think that love is a feeling instead of understanding that love is a choice, followed by actions, which lead to feelings of love. Feelings come and go depending on circumstances and other factors. Love and commitment are a choice.

You chose to marry your spouse because you loved them and wanted to spend your life with them. Hopefully you were wise and mature enough to realize that in every marriage there will be times of hurt, anger, disappointment, and difficulty. Overcoming those challenges is part of living out your commitment to your marriage and your spouse.

Marriages can be impacted when married couples experience poor communication, a lack of compromise, or the absence of kindness, empathy, trust, and respect in their marriages.

But to be clear, the success of the marriage requires both partners to be committed to the marriage. If one partner wants out, there’s no legal way to prevent a divorce proceeding. All too often, people find themselves in a life-changing divorce regardless of their belief system or efforts to save their marriage.

Another reason for lack of commitment is that many couples believe that divorce is the easiest way out of a difficult situation or relationship. In most cases, nothing could be further from the truth. Divorce affects every aspect of your life; lack of companionship, financial stress, shared responsibilities, children, where you live, lifestyle, family and friends, etc..

Infidelity is the #2 Top Reason for Divorce


Over 60% of couples cited a partner’s Infidelity as the reason their marriage union ended in divorce. Forgiveness of infidelity is one of the hardest betrayals for couples to work through. A marriage is supposed to be monogamous. When one spouse fails to honor this boundary and commitment trust is lost, and the marriage is usually destroyed.

Couples in marriages that experience infidelity usually end up divorced unless they seek help to restore those marriages. Couples that reach out for help greatly reduce the chance of ending up divorced.

If you need help working through and forgiving your spouse for having an affair, go to the following article: How to forgive Someone.

Constant arguing and conflict is the #3 Top Reason for Divorce


Excessive arguments compounded by poor conflict resolution skills can take a heavy toll on the relationship and lead couples to divorce. It amazes me how much we as a society are willing to invest in our physical health and appearance, but refuse to invest the time and effort necessary to learn better communication and conflict resolution skills to enhance and strengthen our marriage.

Marrying too young is the #4 Top Reason for Divorce

Getting married at a young age, can put you at a higher percentage risk for a divorce. You’ll likely still be developing key aspects of your personality and views about life. People grow and change as they age and mature, so it’s important for couples to grow together.

Signs that you may be growing apart from your partner can include no shared interests, having different life goals, and feelings of loneliness within the marriage. Growing apart can easily result in ending up divorced.

You can’t change the past if you married too young. But you can determine your future by working hard towards better communication and conflict resolution skills, building shared interests or hobbies, dating, supporting each other emotionally and working together towards shared goals. Spend time with couples that have healthy marriages that you would like to emulate.

Financial problems are the #5 Top Reason for Divorce


Unresolved financial challenges are a leading cause of marital conflict. Financial stress is hard on any marriage. So, it’s important to establish reasonable expectations that both of you can live with regarding money management and financial planning goals.

You should discuss who will pay the bills, how major financial decisions will be made, develop a budget, and learn the basics of money management before you get married. This can be especially difficult if one spouse is a “spender”, and the other is a “saver”. It’s an absolute catastrophe if both of you are big spenders but not big earners!

Substance abuse is the #6 Top Reason for Divorce

Another important factor to consider is if your future or current spouse shows any signs of an addictive personality. An addiction to drugs, alcohol, pornography, or gambling can drastically endanger your marriage. Take these warning signs seriously because the ramifications of these addictions often lead to divorce. If you’re already married get professional help asap.

Forgiving an addict is one of the most difficult situations to offer forgiveness in. They typically lie, steal and break trust repeatedly, destroying the relationships they have with others daily. At the very least, they break promises to themselves and family to give up whatever addiction is destroying their life. Very few marriages survive this. You do not want to go down this path.

Domestic Abuse is the #7 Top Reason for Divorce


Domestic abuse is a serious and dangerous crime. But nearly one out of every four divorces (24% in total) cite domestic abuse as a cause of divorce. Domestic violence can be any pattern of abusive behavior that’s used to intimidate or maintain power and control over the other spouse. In situations where legitimate abuse is a factor, the victim will need a strong attorney to represent them to ensure their safety and to negotiate on their behalf.

Unfortunately, claiming domestic abuse can also be used as a weapon against an innocent spouse or partner. According to court records, over 50% of all domestic violence claims made during the divorce process lack enough evidence to prove the assertion.

Lack of family support is the #8 Top Reason for Divorce

If your family doesn’t agree with your choice of a marriage partner, this can cause a deep rift in your relationship with your spouse. Many a married couple has ended up divorced because of problems with family.

Your family might exclude your partner, disrespect them, or in some cases cut you off from family events and connections because of your choice. This will likely cause feelings of isolation, loneliness, and grief because of lost connections. Many find this pressure difficult to manage, which could cause them to consider divorce as an option.

Health problems is the #9 Top Reason for Divorce


There are so many difficult marital issues that arise from health problems. Mental illness in the form of a severe personality can precipitate a divorce. This can adversely affect every area of the marriage relationship. Infertility can lead to divorce. Couples that face challenges having children are more likely to divorce if having a large family is important for one or both partners.

An accident or deteriorating health that limits the ability for physical intimacy or creates a demand for intensive caregiving by the healthy spouse can also lead to ending up divorced.

Religious differences are the #10 Top Reason for Divorce

Religious differences will affect people with a strong faith and core beliefs that actually influence their decisions about marriage, child rearing, finances and many other important areas of life. Religion can be an extremely import factor for most married couples.

Christians are warned in scripture not to marry someone that doesn’t share their faith in Jesus Christ. This is not to limit their choices, but to protect them from the inevitable conflicts that will occur if they marry someone that doesn’t share their faith and the principles that they live by and hold dear.

Regardless of what your religious beliefs are, be sure to marry someone that shares your beliefs and core values. Never marry them hoping to change them once you’re married. Many couples have ended up divorced by making this mistake.

Little premarital education and preparation is the #11 Top Reason for Divorce

Many couples avoid important conversations about how their marriage will work after they are married. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that they are in love and figure “it will all work out”. The second is that one or both want to avoid conflict.

Not discussing marriage expectations related to faith, having children, parenting roles, careers, spousal roles, finances, where you hope to live, and desired lifestyles will only delay difficult discussions. But another thing it will rob you of is the insight gained from experiencing how your intended spouse communicates and resolves conflict. It’s one thing for them to share their philosophy about these things and quite another to work through them in the real world.

Telling yourself that “things will be better after you’re married” is a sure sign that you shouldn’t be marrying this person. At least not until you’ve worked through things to the point that you’re confident in your choice.
The last thing you want, is to end up like a large percent of divorced couples because you avoided really knowing the person until after you married them. It’s way better to have never married the wrong person than to end up divorced.

Interesting facts about divorce

How Many Marriages End in Divorce?


Reportedly, approximately 50% of all first-time marriages end in divorce. That divorce rate varies between 40-50 percent. Second and third marriages fail at a much higher rate. The divorce rate for second marriages is 67 percent. And 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce.

These statistics seem to indicate that unless someone that has experienced a divorce does the work to figure out what went wrong in their first marriage, they simply take the baggage of that failed relationship with them into the next. This may be as simple as modifying your selection criteria to result in a better choice of a future partner. But you will also need to assess how you can improve yourself to be a better marriage partner should that opportunity arise.

Almost 70% of Divorces Are Initiated by Women

Women are far more likely to initiate a divorce than men. Nearly 7 in 10 divorces are initiated by the female partner in heterosexual relationships. People speculate on why the divorce rate percent is so much higher for women than men, but this percentage can be affected by multiple factors and no single one stands out.

Couples that Live Together prior to Marriage Are More Likely to Divorce

Living together before marriage seems to be a significant predictor of a future divorce. A total of 57% of couples who didn’t live together before marriage had a marriage that lasted 20 years or more. Only 46 percent of those who lived together before marriage lasted as long.

Most Couples Report not Understanding the Realities of a Marriage relationship

One of the leading factors contributing to divorce is a lack of knowledge about what a successful marriage relationship requires. In fact, 70 percent of couples reported they didn’t really understand the level of effort, commitment, and compromise necessary to build a strong marriage before they got married.

All too often, they went into marriage hoping that their partner would “make them happy”. And they commonly thought that love was a feeling. Feelings come and go, but the commitment to love someone is a choice. But that choice and the consistent supporting actions because of that choice will lead to feelings of love.

Summary of top reasons for divorce

Lack of commitment, infidelity, arguing, immaturity, and financial pressures are some of the Top reasons for divorce. But most of the time, there are multiple factors that contribute to the decision to divorce.

The good news revealed by all this information is if you’re still married you should now realize that your marriage doesn’t have to end in divorce. Much of what you’re going through is common to many marriages. And more importantly, there are positive steps you can take to guard against the most common reasons for divorce.

If you’re already divorced, this information will help guide you through an honest self-examination to learn from mistakes and develop better skills and expectations if you enter another relationship. This will greatly increase the likelihood of a successful marriage and decrease the fear of ending up divorced in the future.

Getting help for a better marriage


If you would like help avoiding or recovering from a divorce you can find valuable resources at Keeping Families Connected. There are personal growth resources that cover the following topics:

Section #1: Faith
Section #2: Healing from the devastating effects of divorce
Section #3: Dealing with your emotions and getting rid of baggage
Section #4: Marriage – don’t fall into old patterns with a new spouse
Section #5: Parenting skills
Section #6: Helping your children through divorce
Section #7: Parental Alienation
Section #8: Going deeper in your faith
Section #9: Music

More good news. There is hope. Most divorces are preventable if both partners are willing to spend the time and effort necessary to work on the marriage. There are many great resources, books, marriage retreats, counselors and clergy that can help.

None of the top reasons for divorce has the power to destroy your marriage unless you or your spouse refuses to work toward a better marriage.