The frightening tendency of increasing divorce rates over the past few decades inevitably raises many questions about the causes of this phenomenon. Why do modern married couples separate ten times more often than, for example, 40 years ago? Many people will think that the reason is an accelerated pace of life or the progress of views on family and social roles, and in part, they will be right. But these are not the only reasons families are torn apart.
The very unification of a man and a woman in marriage incorporates a potential conflict. By conflict, we mean a situation when spouses are in different positions due to their premarital experience and roles in building a family. Disagreements between family members arising from the incompatibility of desires, goals, and motives cause families to break up. And every conflict has an underlying cause, which we are going to look into more deeply.
The motivation for divorce is somewhat different from the point of view of men and women. A recent study initiated by the CompleteCase.com website found that 42.2% of women who entered the survey indicate substance abuse as the primary reason for the separation. 20.7% separated because of incompatibility, and 6.6% because of adultery. The rest falls on non-support, financial difficulties, violence, and abandonment. Among men, the reasons for family conflicts that lead to divorce were as follows: incompatibility ー 24.5%, frequent quarrels ー 15.1%, wife’s infidelity ー 14.7%, loss of affection ー 10.9%, abusive behavior ー 4.5%.
Below, we consider the most common factors in the modern world that pose a high risk of divorce, i.e., increasing the likelihood of the breakdown of marriage and family relations.
Unrealistic expectations that spouses have towards their marriage and each other develop into frustration over time and subsequent breakup. The most frequent complaint we hear from such individuals is that their partner has changed beyond recognition. In truth, a tiny percent of spouses cardinally alter their behavior after the wedding. Most of the time, their significant other simply doesn’t see their “undesirable” personality traits and continues living in a fairy tale. And when one day the image of a perfect partner suddenly dissolves, their spouse refuses to believe their eyes.
As you may be aware, attempts to change another person’s personality and habitual behavior are doomed to fail. The more a person clings to their beloved’s ideal image, the more profound their disappointment when everything turns out to be just an illusion. Then, dissatisfaction grows into a depression. After that, tragic consequences for marriage are hard to escape.
Alcoholism or drug abuse may be considered as the main factor that destroys a marriage. Substance abuse affects all aspects of family life, influencing several fundamental elements of relationships: financial, spiritual, social, and psychological. The emotional and spiritual closeness between spouses gradually disappears. Marital conflicts soon become an integral part of everyday life.
But the addiction to alcohol as a factor of marital breakdown is much broader than causing conflicts between spouses. The alcoholic’s behavior becomes inconsistent, with frequent outbursts of rage and sometimes a craving for violence. Gradually, a person becomes irresponsible, so it is no longer possible to rely on them as before. The toxic atmosphere of mistrust and sometimes even disgust towards the addicted spouse undermine family relationships’ very nature. The marriage loses its stability and, after some time, ceases to exist entirely.
Gender ideals embody cultural beliefs about male and female behavior. Some decades ago, a wife’s image was usually associated with taking care of the house and children, while men were the family’s primary breadwinners. But in our era of gender equality, both women and men assess their possibilities from new and exciting perspectives. During the past few decades, humanity has witnessed a significant change in labor division, men’s and women’s rights, and obligations.
As much as we want stereotypes to be a thing of the past, not all people are ready for change. Many men have a subconscious picture of an ideal family, where a woman tends to the household, and a man makes money. Nowadays, women quite often spend long hours at the office and work more than their husbands. Naturally, when they come home afterward, they have neither the energy nor the time to do household chores. Thus, conflicts start arising between the spouses with ultimatums to choose family or career, and as a result, many marriages break down.
Infertility can be referred to as the most pressing problem of the last decade. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), at least 100 million married couples are infertile, and this figure is increasing by 10% every year. Among the surveyed childless couples, 56% noted the adverse impact of infertility on their marriage.
For many families, the inability to conceive a child is a genuinely unpleasant discovery. Problems with conception can affect the psychological state of such couples and their way of communication. They may suffer from intense feelings of irritation, jealousy of people who have children, hopelessness, and depression. Apart from emotional challenges, couples with fertility problems also experience substantial pressure on their relationships posed by society’s norms and expectations. Many couples cannot withstand all the challenges and find it easier to walk away from this childless marriage.
The likelihood of a harmonious union between spouses directly depends on the type of family relationships they observed in their childhood. Researchers note a statistical connection between the child’s upbringing in an incomplete family and subsequent failed marriage. They also found that people who suffered personal crises in life more often had divorced siblings.
Obviously, in conflict and incomplete families, children cannot develop an image of successful relationships and reproduce it further in their own lives. More so, the spouses with divorced parents are more tolerant towards divorce and even emotionally prepared for it, sometimes even unconsciously preparing to face a family breakdown one day or another.
Naturally, those are only part of the reasons that push spouses to divorce. More and more factors appear that negatively affect the relationship between spouses and bring discord into the family. The living conditions and activities of the majority of the population are deteriorating. The individual’s social and psychological security decreases and the financial and social pressure on modern families becomes more evident. These changes lead to the emergence of new factors, directly or indirectly influencing the marital breakdown.