Why do people Divorce? [15 Main Reasons]

Home > Guides

The complete list of reasons why people Divorce

  1. Cheating (Adultery,Infidelity)
  2. Domestic Violence
  3. Communication Gap
  4. Taken for granted
  5. Religious Differences
  6. Cultural differences/Families getting involved in a marriage
  7. Serious Arguments
  8. Sexual Satisfaction
  9. No Physical attraction
  10. Spouse is Gay
  11. Workaholism
  12. Childlessness
  13. Money (Economic Restraint)
  14. Addictions (Alcohol,Drugs)
  15. Premarital Sex


The Expectations of Marriage


  1. Loyalty / Fidelity
  2. Trust and Honesty
  3. Respect
  4. Sex
  5. Words and Gestures of Love and Caring
  6. Friendship
  7. Undivided attention
  8. Agreement
  9. Acceptance
  10. Encouragement
  11. Constancy
  12. Companionship

Aim of this Article

The aim of this article is to achieve the following:

  • List all the possible root causes (not specific reasons) why marriages fail - taking into account the real divorce cases and keep the list updated
  • Understanding the actual root cause(s) that leads to divorce.
  • To help readers in assessing their married life and acknowledging any of the issues that they might be facing in their relationship to address it right now in order to maintain peace and a happy married life.
  • To help singles in their journey of finding a spouse - by helping them understand the red flags that should be taken care of before they finally tie the knot.
  • Exclude any personal bias or judgements, and present the list of reasons based on statistics, extracted data from matrimonial lawyers and speaking with people who have gone through a divorce.
  • The aim of this article is to constantly put this “list” to test with divorce reasons, and map it to the root cause. If we find that there is a divorce case where the reason does not trace back to any of the listed root causes - we will update the list of root causes (so far the list passes every divorce case we have analyzed).
  • The data is collected and aggregated from worldwide governmental open-data, research agencies and real divorce cases.


  • Arriving at a final conclusion that a person wants to end the marriage and get a divorce is generally a slow process which continually grows into enough reasons for thinking about a divorce. 
  • As the saying goes, no marriage is perfect. There are a set of expectations from a marriage and there are a set of root causes that lead to divorce.
  • Usually, marriages will lack certain expectations and may have mild elements of root causes that lead to divorce. It does not mean that the marriage would end.

Cheating (Adultery/Infidelity)

cheating in marriage chart

Source - 2004 study by Grant Thornton


  • Having sexual or intimate relations with someone else is the number 1 cause that leads to divorce as it questions the very foundations of the marriage and affects almost all the other root causes of the diviorce.
  • Having crude thoughts or feelings for another person can also make your spouse feel cheated and end in divorce.

Other Divorce Root Causes affected

  • Taken for granted
  • Sexual Satisfaction
  • Communication gap

Communication Gap and Ego

communication gap


“I closed my mouth and spoke to you in a hundred silent ways.”


Great poetry, but the above is a recipe for an unhappy marital life.


  • Your expectations with your spouse need to be communicated. 
  • Each partner has their own set of expectations from their spouse - and they struggle in hopes of the relationship to be what they aspire it to be.
  • Communication Gap happens when instead of discussion - a partner expects that their expectations should be known by their spouse - without communicating and through mind reading. This eventually leads to the partner - or both - undergoing an unspoken emotional divorce.
  • Dissapointed on their expectations, partners build a wall in between and withdraw themselves emotionally, while their expectations should have been shared and discussed, acknowledged, discarded or kept.
  • When a partner is upset with their spouse who is the most closest to him/her, and the spouse does not communicate in order to understand why the person is upset; the spouse is not going to feel that they are loved.
  • A simple “I understand now why you are upset, and I am sorry I made you feel bad” is all that is needed to end the communication gap, however, generally the gap gets compounded with logic and ego.
  • Communication Gap root cause for divorce is a stage that almost every divorce case passes through.

Serious Arguments


  • A general notion of having arguments in a relationship is considered to be healthy and good for the relationship.
  • There is a fine line between a healthy argument and a serious hurtful argument that can dent the relationship and make the partners see each other in a totally different light - as an enemy, someone to get even with, to hate and hurt at the right moment. 
  • Once there is an established argument gone wrong, people seek rational reasons that support the idea of considering the other person as the enemy.
  • More than usual conflicts and arguments in a relationship eventually get worse over time and lead to the route of Divorce. This is usually caused because not many people are aware of how to handle arguments.
  • The root of every argument is the lack of mutual understanding and empathy. It is important to handle the argument with the right communication style and avoid blaming, or altogether ignoring the argument like it never happened. The result of every argument should be both parties feeling happy, heard and satisfied.


Lack of Responsibility


  • Marriage requires responsibilities towards your spouse, raising children,the house-hold chores, finances and making decisions together. Lack of commitment is a very powerful root cause which alone can lead to a divorce.
  • Couples who often shirk responsibilities on each other and argue about it tend to lead to a lower level of marital happiness often being a factor for divorce.
  • Lack of showing constant acknowledgement, appreciation and overlooking of duties and responsibilities fulfilled by the spouse is one of the major reasons why couples drift apart from care for the other to continue - and end up in divorce/separation.



  • The set of expectations from a marriage were listed in the start of this article. Expectations should be figured out early and communicated well with your spouse. However, several new expectations are realized after the marriage and if not communicated well, become a cause of separation while affecting the root cause “Lack of communication”.

Unique Expectations

unique expectations

  • There are also cases of strict expectations from a person that are never known to their spouse. For example, using your hurtful past experiences as a ledger of your expectations and the responsibilities you look for in your current partner. The expectations take the following forms
    • “Convince me you are not like those who hurt me”
    • “Your responsibility is to make up for the pain that I have experienced in my past”
    • “If you make a small mistake and remind me of my past, it is a deal breaker”.
  • Another example is a person who is sensitive to feeling any form of lack of interest due to their past experiences, and if they sense any lack of interest of any form from their spouse, they would feel extremely hurt and conclude it is a failed marriage.

New Expectations

unique unique expectations

  • More often, the person itself is not aware of their expectations from the marriage. This is the reason why the root cause of Lack of Responsibility does not surface early in the marriage and becomes apparent only once the person has figured out that what they expected or hoped to happen is not happening. To figure out your expectations, hopes and desires in your partner, and their responsibilities - and having a dialogue about it with your spouse is necessary.
  • Every couple has to trace back their own set of expectations that are unique and personal to them - share them with their spouse one by one - and decide whether to keep them, or discard them. Figuring out the root cause - in order to lead a happy marital life and not punish the present for their own past.
  • A lot of divorce cases may have different scenarios that trace back to this root cause - “expectations”.

Getting in for the wrong reasons

gold digger

  • Marrying just for the money and/or beauty are proven to be reasons of not enough substance for a marriage to survive longer, with several cases of this research recorded with this specific reason for divorce, which can be traced back to the root cause of “expectations”.
  • Many early marriages when the partner(s) were not prepared to be married tend to break as the person matures and realizes their expectations.
  • During World War 2, Soldiers were in a hurry to marry before they go to war. Divorce rates increased after World War 2 ended. [Source-p. 240, Kunz, Jenifer (2011). Think marriages and families.]


Taken for Granted

Taken for Granted

  • No interest in the interests, likes and dislikes of the spouse. 
  • When a partner realizes that their spouse is not interested,supportive or attentive to their needs and in what they are passionate about, this leads to a Communication gap.

Other Divorce Root Causes affected

  • Communication gap

No Physical Attraction

No Physical Attraction

  • Also known as “losing interest”, this root cause of divorce is common (but not limited to) among people who marry based on beauty and physical attractiveness of their spouse and eventually find the spouse unattractive when they start aging.
  • Feeling unloved and unappreciated shakes the foundation of marriage.
  • We have recorded a case where the cause of the divorce was that the girl gained weight after marriage. Interestingly, weight gain is also recorded in several other sources as a reason for divorce (which traces back to our root cause “No Physical Attraction”)


Sexual Satisfaction

  • This is not just about sex, but mainly about emotional bond and intimacy.
  • Sexual problems in a marriage can be traced back to personal anxieties and relational conflicts.
  • When sex becomes the only means of expressing intimacy and love in a marriage, the sexual satisfaction depletes soon.
  • Communication gap is again the affected root cause of this marriage problem that can lead to low levels of marital happiness or divorce. Just like your expectations of responsibilities, and your feelings during arguments with your spouse - you cannot expect your spouse to know what pleases you without you explicitly letting them know.
  • Long term sexual satisfaction in a marriage cannot be achieved without an emotional bond and intimacy between the couple.
  • When talking about strictly just sex, different sexual drives and appetite of partners may accrue a sense of dissatisfaction. Also, varying sexual needs with age accrues a sense of confusion/rejection.

Domestic Violence

Emotional and Physical abuse victims in marriage

Source: 2004 study by Grant Thornton


mental abuse


  • One of the biggest reasons for divorces after cheating is Domestic Violence
  • Physical abuse is generally recorded as a gradual process which starts with feeling very threatened physically eventually leading to physical abuse in a long period of time.
  • Both, physical and mental abuse are measured equally in this root cause classification.
  • It is important to distance yourself safely from an abusive relationship. Sometimes, divorce is inevitable and good. 


Other Divorce Root Causes affected

  • Taken for granted
  • Sexual Satisfaction
  • Communication gap
  • Arguments leading to hurtful comments
  • No Physical attraction

Spouse is Gay/Bisexual

spouse is gay/bi

  • What do you do if you are married to a person who has no physical interest in not just you, but your gender? 
  • What do you do if you are married to a bisexual who tends more towards the same gender?
  • This is a competition that you cannot win.
  • The marriage is destined to break once you find out.


Other Divorce Root Causes affected

  • Taken for granted
  • No Physical attraction
  • Sexual Satisfaction
  • Communication gap
  • Families getting involved in a marriage




2004 study by Grant Thornton



Other Divorce Root Causes affected

  • Taken for granted
  • Sexual Satisfaction
  • Communication gap


Addictions (Alcohol, Gambling, Substance abuse)

Addictions (Alcohol, Gambling, Substance abuse)

  • Annual study conducted in the UK by Grant Thornton in 2004 revealed that 4% of the divorce reported substance abuse to be the reason of Divorce.

Other root causes affected

  • Taken for Granted
  • Communication Gap
  • Serious Arguments
  • Lack of Responsibility
  • Sexual Satisfaction


Premarital Sex

  • A study has found that women who have cohabited or had premarital sex with men other than their husband have a higher rate of divorce. 
  • The relation between premarital sex and divorce is strongest for women who have cohabited with multiple men before marriage. [Source]
  • Lawyer Emily Doskow say people feel like, 'If it doesn't work out, we can just step out of this.'

Religious Differences

Religious Differences


It takes three to make love, not two: you, your spouse, and God.


Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another.


Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else.


Without a central loyalty life is unfinished.

- Rumi


  • Just love is not enough.
  • Based on the data available, our grandmothers may be right. Cultural differences between couples with respect to tribal, state and religious differences have been found to have a very strong correlation with divorces.
  • Interfaith marriages are three times more likely to end in divorce than same-religion marriages.
  • Even in same-religion marriages, the difference in the level of religiousness also causes trouble. 
  • Teaching both faiths to children and letting them choose is not a solution. A partner in a non-religious interfaith marriage may find themselves to be religious later in the marriage. This is found to be very common where people have shared plans to be more religious after they get married.
  • Religion is not just going to church, temple or a mosque. Religion defines a way of life, how the children will be raised, and expectations of performing religious activities jointly. [Source]
  • Many couples don’t even talk about their partner’s religion and beliefs before marriage. Religion can become a serious reason that results in end of marriage and sociological studies back it up.

Cultural differences/Parents getting involved in marriage

  • The balance of the relationships between a spouse, parents and in-laws is critical and found to be the reason for divorce.
  • The cultural aspects and blending in to the “house-rules” in a joint family can be challenging for the bride and in extreme cases result in mental abuse that leads to the end of marriage.


money issues in couples

  • Couples who find their spouse not handling the money well report unhappy marital life.
  • A couple who argues on finances very frequently, are found to be 30% more likely to end their marriage. [Source]

Divorce Statistics

  • In a 2004 study by Grant Thornton, 93% of divorce cases petitioned by wives
  • 53% of divorce cases for marriages that lasted 10-15 years
  • 40% of divorce cases for marriages that lasted 5-10 years
  • Very few cases of marriages that lead to divorce within 1 to 5 years.
  • After 20 years of marriage, it is very unlikely for the marriage to end in a divorce.
  • In the United States and the UK, about 70% of divorces are filed by women. [Source]
  • One divorce happens every 13 seconds in the US. Which means 277 divorces per hour, 6,646 divorces per day, 46,523 divorces per week, and 2,419,196 divorces per year.
  • 15 % of adult women are divorced or separated in the United States, compared to <1% in 1920.



Comment Form is loading comments...

Table of contents