Divorce is often considered a dirty word because of the devastation it can wreck on a family. But, in many cases, ending the marriage doesn’t have to be the answer. There are so many relationships that can be mended and rebuilt if both parties are willing to put in work.
The divorce rate has continued to decline since the turn of the 21st century. In 2020, rates hit an all-time low with just 14.9 marriages ending out of every 1,000, according to the American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau.
TIME says fewer Millennials are getting married early. As a result, younger generations have lower divorce rates than Boomers and Gen X. Getting married later in life often means a more mature relationship. Millennial couples also approach relationship roles and partnerships differently, which has a huge impact on the outcome. Interestingly enough, subsequent marriages led to the highest divorce rate.
Relationships are HARD. People often run into discomfort, unhappiness and discontentment in their relationship. Many who get a divorce think starting over with a blank slate and a better spouse will solve their relationship troubles.
The truth is: outside of domestic violence or adultery, divorce rarely solves the real underlying issue. This blog looks at common reasons people get divorced and how those root issues can be addressed for a healthier approach to relationships in general.
Marriage is Not the Problem
Something I see often in my work is how people who get divorced once often take the same struggle right into their next relationship. Again, physical or emotional abuse situations are very different, so I am not talking about staying in a toxic relationship. This also isn’t addressing larger issues, like infidelity, substance abuse or addiction. This article addresses the majority of relationships that become toxic when both people fail to respond in healthy ways to the challenges they face.
We often take our deep hurts and limiting beliefs and project them into the relationship. The negative thoughts we personally struggle with can form the narrative, coloring objective reality differently for both people.
When you aren’t seeing things from the same point of view, it can cause discord and resentment. This blog will deal with people who feel lonely in their relationship because they feel misunderstood or unseen. If you feel as if the love is gone or the partnership is divided, then this blog may help you uncover the real problem behind the conflict.
Reasons Why People Get Divorced
There are many reasons people grow apart that could be solved with understanding and addressing the underlying cause. Here are four of the most common issues causing divorce. Before hiring a divorce lawyer or starting divorce mediation, you can see if any of these apply to your own situation.
Too often, people consider their partner their literal “other half.” Rather than realizing we are all individual people with different perspectives and needs, we tend to think our significant other will fulfill us.
A lot of your expectations will come down to your Energy Type, gender and personality. For example, a Type 3 might expect a dynamic and passionate relationship, while Type 4 expects stability and consistency. This doesn’t mean that two different people can’t get on the same wavelength-quite the opposite. By understanding the natural expectations of both people, you can better address the miscommunications that lead to feeling unloved when the other person is expressing exactly the opposite from their own point of view.
If you are a Type 4, then you might feel as if your relationship is threatened when your Type 3 partner constantly wants to change up the dynamic and try out new things in life. However, if you are a Type 1, you might feel as if a Type 4 is weighing you down with their rock steady approach to life and their desire to follow the rules.
It’s unfair to expect someone to just understand you or act in the way you expect them to. Marriage takes a lot of learning about the other person-almost like learning a new language altogether. Most people don’t naturally see eye-to-eye on most issues with their significant other. One common reason for divorce comes down to expectations that just aren’t realistic or fair.
How Can I Fix It?
If this is your struggle, you should absolutely get your Energy Profile and learn about all four Energy Types. My book, “It’s Just My Nature,” is a great resource for better understanding the natural approach and perspectives of the different Energy Types.
In my own relationship with my husband, this made a HUGE difference. My husband is a Type 2, soft and subtle energy. I am a dynamic and fiery Type 3. He stopped telling me to calm down and I stopped telling him to just go get what he wanted from life. Instead, we started to see each other for who we really were and understand what made the other person tick.
Lack of Communication
Assumptions are at the heart of many misunderstandings and broken relationships. We tend to have unfair expectations that are exacerbated by communication problems. Because it makes sense to us, we expect our perspective to be what the other person is seeing as well. When our partner makes a completely different choice, it can be easy to read into the situation and see proof of a problem in the other person.
When we do try to communicate, we tend to do so after the hurt has occurred and we are angry or emotional. Addressing an issue while upset about it can lead to charged conversations that point blame and make a lot of assumptions about intent.
In most relationships, there is someone who naturally communicates more than the other person. One person might even be walled off, not wanting to admit their needs or wants for fear of looking weak or selfish. This is really important to identify before trying to fix communication issues. The person more likely to communicate needs to work on listening, while the person who is walled off needs to express their thoughts. These roles may flip and flop depending on the issue at hand (like one person may be the communicator for event planning but terrible at expressing their desires for intimacy and connection).
How Can I Fix It?
First of all, it’s important to communicate your needs and expectations before you feel resentment about them not being met. When you express your desires ahead of time, you can often sidestep the need to “fix” a situation afterward. This requires being honest and upfront about your perspective and acknowledging the other person probably has a completely different perspective.
It also means you will have to consider which issues are truly worth asking the other person to change for. You will have to be very careful to listen to your partner and understand where you are doing things against their preferences and consider if you can change your own ways to help support their natural tendencies.
When something does go wrong and you feel hurt or angry, it’s better to work through things when you are both settled down and emotionally balanced. The goal must be mature, productive, problem-solving or nothing will be truly resolved. Remember, you are on the same team! Ask yourself: do I believe this person is trying to love me the best way they know how? If the person isn’t trying to be hurtful or manipulative, then there is hope that you can figure each other out and find a better balance in your communication.
Pushing down your needs would be a huge mistake in your relationship. Going with your needs largely unmet can lead to a high risk for an extramarital affair-which isn’t fair for anyone involved.
While you may not have every need fully met by your partner, there are certain things you do need from your partner. Of course, you shouldn’t rely on your partner to make you a whole person, but you should be able to rely on them for support and partnership. If you are carrying the burden of the household or handling all the financial problems, then your partner may not be pulling enough weight. You may need to communicate your needs because the other person doesn’t realize they are there.
A lot of this will also stem from your childhood. Perhaps you felt unappreciated or unheard as a child. Now, you expect love in the form of verbalized appreciation or feel most respected when your partner really listens to your perspective. If that doesn’t materialize, you feel hurt and unloved-reverting your mentality back to what you faced as a child. Holding hurts from our childhood doesn’t mean you were abused or neglected-even great parents don’t always meet our every need.
How Can I Fix It?
Healing those childhood traumas is the first step towards a successful marriage. First and foremost, you want to make sure you are approaching your side of the relationship with care and concern-no one should be carrying too much of the household burden or feeling unappreciated. On the flip side, you need to know your triggers based on your past experiences.
In my own history, I felt very unheard by the men in my life, including my father, my brothers and my uncles. It is very important to me that I don’t feel pushed aside and shushed now. It took a long time for me to realize I was feeling unimportant and as if my perspective wasn’t worth sharing. When I realized that mentality stemmed from my childhood, I flipped my perspective and won’t let anyone make me feel differently.
Replaying Unhealthy Patterns
It’s really easy to get into unhealthy patterns of troubling behavior. A married couple tends to fight over the same issues and still walk away without making any real progress towards a solution. Most of these issues come from the struggles above-unmet needs, unfair expectations and a lack of communication. We just keep expecting the other person to do things the way we naturally do things and see things from our point of view. When that isn’t reality, we fall into the same arguments. I remember times it felt like we could have just recorded our argument and pressed play the next time it came up-nothing in the script on either side changed! This is not healthy progress.
How Can I Fix It?
Try to break yourself out of your thought cycle. One of the best ways to really get out of your own perspective is to try and make it make sense from their perspective. Ask yourself if you can put together a narrative that makes sense from what they were seeing and doing. Most people have good reasons why they do things and aren’t trying to make your life harder-so, what was the other person really thinking?
Another thing that will help is acknowledging each person’s strengths and weaknesses. Know what your typical reactions and triggers are as well as your significant other’s. Start to learn what you do that doesn’t naturally fit their perspective and vice versa. The more you understand each other, the more these unhealthy patterns will be caught before they reach a problematic stage.
If you can’t seem to get out of this rut on your own, marriage counseling may be able to help you spot the patterns.
Can I Avoid a Divorce?
Ultimately, only you and your partner can decide if your relationship is worth fighting for. I always encourage couples to try and work through these issues if there aren’t larger issues (like abuse or unfaithfulness). I have witnessed people take their burdens and negative energy right into the next relationship and watched it go down in flames, much like the first.
Even if you don’t end up sticking together, you never waste time working on being more mature and more productive in your own behavior. I highly recommend that my clients work on their own hang-ups and struggles, allowing their partner to have space for self-discovery at their own pace. Just because you finally see the rut for what it is, doesn’t mean your significant other is in the same place. Eventually, your positive energy will either encourage the other person to grow or cause a very clear divide.
When you work on healing your own past and setting your energy to a higher vibration, the answer becomes clear. If you want help and support in this healing journey, join me at the Carol Tuttle Healing Center and start your free trial today!