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The Unraveling of Marriages: Evidence-Based Factors Leading to Divorce

Marriage, a deeply rooted institution in society, is fundamental to human connections and family life. Unfortunately, it is estimated that about 40-50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. This article aims to explore evidence-based factors that contribute to the prevalence of divorce, drawing from research in sociology, psychology, and family studies.

1. Communication Breakdown

A leading cause of divorce is poor communication. Open and effective communication among couples is essential to resolving issues and nurturing the relationship. Numerous studies have corroborated this, finding that couples who don’t communicate effectively are more likely to face marital strain and eventual divorce. This includes both verbal and non-verbal communication and can encompass passive-aggressive behaviours or expressing contempt.

2. Infidelity

Infidelity is another significant factor contributing to divorce. Researchers have found that both emotional and physical affairs can erode trust and commitment within a marriage, ultimately leading to its dissolution. According to various studies, 20-40% of divorces occur due to unfaithfulness.

3. Financial Issues

Financial stress is another major factor leading to marital conflict and divorce. Couples who cannot agree on money management and face continuous economic challenges are at a higher risk for marital discord. Studies show that financial disagreements are the strongest predictor of divorce, as they prove to be persistent, cumulative, and difficult to resolve.

4. Incompatible Goals and Values

Couples may begin their marital journey with divergent life goals or value systems. Such differences may not create issues in the early phase of the marriage but can gradually strain the relationship over time. Research has shown that when couples fail to achieve a shared vision or make compromises on their priorities, the likelihood of divorce increases.

5. Lack of Emotional Support

The absence of emotional support can result in marital dissatisfaction. Emotional support encompasses recognizing and attending to one’s emotional needs, empathizing, and providing reassurance during difficult times. Research indicates that couples with low emotional intelligence and poor emotional support are more likely to face marital dissatisfaction and divorce.

6. Impact of Mental Health Issues

Untreated or poorly managed mental health issues can also lead to marital strain and divorce. Conditions such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse can create undue pressure on the relationship and harm a partner’s ability to provide support. Studies have found that people with mental health issues often experience lower-quality marital relationships and a higher risk of divorce.

7. High Conflict and Toxicity

Persistent high levels of conflict in a marriage can give rise to toxic behaviours such as emotional or physical abuse, manipulation, and blame. Research shows that such high-conflict relationships significantly contribute to marital dissatisfaction and are more likely to end in divorce.


Given the complex nature of relationships, there is no single reason for divorce. A multitude of factors including poor communication, unresolved financial issues, incompatibility in goals or values, and a lack of emotional support can lead to marital breakdowns. Understanding these evidence-based factors can potentially help couples improve their relationships and maintain satisfying, long-lasting marriages.

𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗰𝘁 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗨𝘀!