TOP 5 REASONS FOR DIVORCE – from a Divorce Attorney’s Perspective

Written by on January 9, 2013 in Mediation

As a family law (divorce) attorney, the most common question I am asked is: “What’s the number one cause of divorce?”  My joking response is “Husbands who don’t listen.”  But, in all seriousness, there isn’t one main cause of divorce – but there are a few reasons that I have heard more than once.  Indeed, during my 7 years as a family law attorney, I have met with hundreds of people who are having marital issues, are contemplating divorce, are going through the divorce process, or who have friends and family members who are going through the divorce process.  During my conversations with these people, many of them have the same issues which “cause” the divorce.

I thought that I would share those reasons in this blog with the hopes of helping couples who are going through a marriage lull, work on their marriage and avoid a divorce.  (I know what you’re probably thinking, “A divorce attorney who wants to help people stay married??? Did hell freeze over?”  The answer is yes and no – Yes, I do want good people to save their marriage.  And no, hell did not freeze over – there are a few nice lawyers out there.)

Before I discuss the most common reasons for divorce, I need to write my lawyerly disclaimer (so bear with me):  “The statements below do not depict one or more client’s statements – rather, they are a combination of reasons that I have heard from numerous people across the board including other attorneys and the general public.   Additionally, I am not a licensed therapist, medical doctor, or a marriage and family counselor.  Therefore, any recommendations provided below are purely suggestions and are not intended to replace the advice of a licensed therapist, medical doctor, or family counselor.  For assistance with any marital issues, it is recommended that you contact a professional in that capacity.”

That said, here are the most common reasons I have heard that cause a divorce:

1.       “S/he doesn’t appreciate me.”

This is probably, by far, the number one complaint I hear.  When I ask, “Do you appreciate her/him?” the response is, “Of course.  I brag about my husband/wife to all my friends, coworkers, and family all the time.”  Then I ask the million dollar question: “Do you tell your wife/husband that you appreciate him/her?” And the answer is always: “I don’t need to.  S/he knows how much I appreciate him/her.”  Sorry to break it to you but, no they don’t.  You need to communicate your appreciation to that person.  These little words, “Thank you” and “I appreciate you” go so far in help maintaining a good relationship and are so often underused.

2.      “We don’t have anything in common anymore.”

We all grow and change with time.  This is inevitable.  I don’t know how many people can say that they are the same exact person that they were 10-15 years ago.  There are some lucky couples who naturally and effortlessly grow and change in the same direction.  But this is rare.  More often, spouses don’t grow together – but it doesn’t mean that we are doomed to divorce.

Rather, we must commit to maintaining a bond with our spouse.  I recommend doing activities together at least once a week – whether it’s trying new restaurants, going for a walk, cooking together, eating at a dinner table (NO TV!), or enjoying a glass of wine together.  These little things do so much to maintain a friendship and a commonality between couples and they are not difficult to do.  So the next time you want to grab a drink with your friends, opt for getting one with your spouse instead.

3.      “We don’t make each other happy anymore”

You should to be able to openly and honestly discuss your wants with your spouse.  If you don’t tell your spouse what you want how are they supposed to deliver on that want and make you happy?  The answer is, they won’t be able to deliver which will lead you to feel neglected, unsatisfied, and unhappy.  When one person doesn’t make you happy, you spend spend less time with them which causes distance between you two which makes it “easier” to move on and physically separate from one another.  Moral of the story: communicate, communicate, and communicate.

4.      “I do EVERYTHING and s/he doesn’t do ANYTHING”

In our day and age, we are so busy with our jobs, children, housework, networking, to-do lists, etc. that we get so caught up in what we do and assume that we do everything and the other person does nothing all day.  And, often times, this is not true.

If you think you do everything and the other spouse does nothing, you will build up resentment against your spouse.  In turn, your spouse will feel unappreciated (see above).  To combat this, I recommend communicating with the other person on a daily basis of what you did that day.  The simple act of telling the other person what you did helps dispel the myth that one person lounges and eats bon bons all day, chats with colleagues and is on facebook all day.

5.      “All we do is discuss the kids.”

Disclaimer: I don’t have children.  But I can sympathize with how much time and energy it takes to raise them.  Whether you have infants who depend on you to survive, kindergartners who need baked goods at school EVERYDAY, or teenagers who you are quite sure are not yours but rather the spawn of the devil.  That said, it is so easy to get wrapped up in your children and their lives 24/7 and focus less on your spouse and their needs.

This is why it is imperative to have “date nights” where you and your spouse spend quality time with each other and talk to each other about your hopes, dreams, day’s activities, etc.   I know it’s probably easier said than done, but at the end of the day – your child will eventually move out; your spouse hopefully won’t.

All in all, this list is certainly not exhaustive, but it highlights some of the main complaints that divorce attorneys hear.  Also, there are people for who divorce is the only option – no amount of date nights will resolve their issues.  But hopefully, this blog will help those who are toying with the idea of divorce work on their issues rather than call it quits.  In my heart of hearts I believe that if you don’t work on these issues with your current spouse, then they will creep back up with your new spouse.  Good luck to us all!

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