7 Reasons for Divorce: Each Unique but All Painful

7 reasons for divorce

By Anna Krolikowska, Family Law Attorney, Immediate Past President, IL State Bar Association

It may not surprise you to learn that one of the most searched questions online about divorce pertains to the reasons for divorce.  I imagine that is because divorce can feel confusing, and oftentimes, it’s hard to pinpoint why exactly a person might feel ending the marriage is his or her best option. As a family law attorney who works with divorcing clients daily, I can say with experience and certainty that there are  some very common reasons why people get divorced. Here are 7 reasons for divorce. Each reason is unique, but what they all have in common is that all can cause painful emotions, including: fear, anger, confusion, resentment, sadness, and heartbreak.


7 Reasons for Divorce:


1. Financial problems

Many couples have conflict around money; the earning of money, the spending of money, and the saving of money. Sometimes one spouse wants to spend and the other wants to save or invest.  Some people marry and bring debt to the marriage and that creates strain on the marriage, and other couples end up in debt for myriad reasons.  No matter what, conflict about money is challenging to resolve in a marriage. Eventually, the arguing causes a breakdown in communication and resentment can start to fester. This can lead to divorce.


2. Addiction

This is a serious issue and one that can become dangerous. People often think of addictions being to alcohol or drugs.  But there are other addictions, such as gambling and the hiding of gambling debts, which can also destroy a marriage due to mood swings, a breakdown in trust, endless lies, job loss, financial issues, and a person’s inability to function. Without focused, substantial therapeutic treatment, addiction will destroy a relationship and lead to divorce.


3. Drifting apart as the years go on and the children get launched


When couples have children, life goes by pretty fast, and all their attention is focused on the kids and the family. But what happens when the kids leave? Some divorcing couples realize that the connection they had with their spouse has been gone for a long time. Interests, goals, passions, friends, and more factors might have changed. There can also be a lot of built up resentment on the part of one or both parties, which never surfaces until the kids leave. The result: the couple decides to restart their lives without each other and divorce.


4. Communication breakdowns

Some couples spend their entire marriage never fully learning how to communicate with each other and/or knowing what their partner needs or wants from a communication standpoint. Arguing, ignoring each other, failing to listen to each other, disrespecting one another, and even cheating are signs of broken down communication. Without trying to change it through therapy, this ever-ending conflict and feeling misunderstood leads people away from each other and eventually to divorce.



5. Mental health issues

Perhaps one of the most difficult of the 7 reasons for divorce is mental health issues. Why? Because a person with mental health issues is sick, but it’s not like being physically sick, and so the other person might become angry, frustrated, or unable to understand why the person can’t change. For example, if someone has bipolar disorder, the spouse might get weary and eventually resentful of coming home and seeing the spouse lying on the couch and unproductive. What he or she might not realize is that the person truly needs professional help. Even after getting help, mental illness can be challenging in a marriage, and can lead to fear of the person, resentment, cheating and eventually, divorce.


6. Co-parenting disagreements

A surprising number of couples fall in love and get married without ever exploring their hopes, expectations, and approaches to parenting. Things can happen so fast, that before a couple really knows each other, they already have children. People’s parenting styles are largely formed from their own childhood experiences. If a couple has vastly different upbringings, that could present a problem. It doesn’t have to if the couple knows how to communicate with one another, and if they are open-minded to compromise in parenting issues. If not, this can lead them down the path to divorce.


7. Feeling a sudden sense of needing a change

We’ve all heard of the “mid-life crisis:” when someone wakes up and wants to change his or her life because they fear they are getting older and that something is missing or they aren’t happy. This is often a complete shock to a spouse, who thought everything was going great. I often hear from clients that they tried to save the marriage, but that the person’s “mind was already made up,” or “he/she checked out.” It’s one of the saddest reasons for divorce because it might have been prevented had the couple had better communication, and made their relationship more of an effort all those years before.


There is one last reason for divorce I want to mention, which is:


Emotional or physical affairs

Perhaps the most cutting and intensely painful reason for divorce is cheating and betrayal. People have affairs for a variety of reasons, but usually it stems from unhappiness and other issues in the relationship. Many times, couples try to repair the marriage after an affair, through therapy, and they are able to stay together. Other times, they end up divorced.


In closing, when people are falling in love and planning for married life everything looks so positive, shiny, and bright.  But life is challenging and complex, and marriage is not easy—even happy marriages require hard work and lots of attention. I do always encourage my clients to confirm that they attempted to save their marriage prior to making the decision to divorce. This way, they can move forward with the divorce without having doubts and/or wondering if they should have tried harder.


Anna P. Krolikowska, an attorney in the Northbrook law firm of Anna P. Krolikowska P.C, focuses her practice in the area of family law. Anna realizes that importance and the impact family law matters have not only on her clients, but also on their families. From divorce and child custody to any judgment modifications, Anna considers the unique circumstances of each case to develop a course of action designed specifically to address each client’s unique needs.

As a litigator, trained mediator, and a collaborative professional, Anna is able to offer to her clients diverse, and creative approaches to resolving marital disputes.

Anna realizes that family law matters are very difficult for all individuals involved. She strives to treat each client with respect at all times and to provide each client with attention and time they require. She works diligently to maintain open lines of communication, and provide creative options to resolving her clients’ concerns.

In addition to her practice, Anna is President-Elect of the Illinois State Bar Association which oversees the operations and management of ISBA, a state-wide voluntary association of more than 30,000 attorneys who strive to educate and serve the public, and improve the practice of law. She is a 2019 Honoree of the “40 Under Forty” award. The award honors 40 attorneys each year. In June 2021 she became the President of the ISBA, making her the 5th female president since its founding in 1877. To learn more about Anna and her services, visit her website, or call: (847) 715-9328.

Like this article? Check out “Filing for Divorce? What Women Need to Know Beforehand”


Anna K. Law- I am committed to offering you solutions that are supportive, considerate, sensible, constructive and mutual.


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