The Top Reasons for Divorce and How to Cope with Each

top reasons for divorce

By Jenny Stevens, LCPC, Divorce Coach and Therapist

Every divorce is unique, and so are the reasons people decide to end their marriages. From cheating to alcohol abuse to growing apart, every couple has their own distinctive motivations for getting divorced. Being a divorce coach, I have seen a wide variety of reasons for divorce, but some are more common. Based on experience, here is my list of top reasons for divorce:


1. Kids go to college.

Many couples have prioritized their children over their marriage, so oftentimes when kids go to college, the couple realizes how much they have grown apart. Sometimes the emotional divide is so big that it is hard to recover.


2. No sex.

Sex is a big part of a relationship, typically more so for men. The longer we have been with someone, sex and physical intimacy can sometimes take a back seat. Sex can be a way of connecting and without prioritizing it, some people can leave a marriage because of the lack of sex. We all know that sex is one of many things that make a relationship fulfilling, but some marriages require that connection or else the love can feel lost.


3. They have nothing in common and feel like roommates.

This is when couples grow apart and lose their friendship or connection over time. Most people in this category have gone through their married life without prioritizing their marriage or their partner. Therefore, that emotional connection is lost, to the point where the divide is too far to get reconnected.


4. Covid.

Another of the top reasons for divorce is COVID. The pandemic forced many people to reevaluate their lives and with so much time at home, some marriages didn’t make it because one person had time to re imagine their life and their growth wasn’t supported. Secondly, couples who weren’t happy decided to finally leave and find more happiness in their life. Some say that the amount of time they spent in their homes forced couples to see if they could withstand some of the many challenges that accompanied Covid.


5. Arguing.

Arguing can be toxic and can place a huge emotional toll on someone’s mental and emotional health. Some couples get to a point where they can’t take it any more (even after they have exhausted couples counseling).  Learning how to communicate and navigate conflict is extremely important in any relationship. Couples usually have the same 2-3 fights and it’s important to be able to either work through the tension or sometimes it’s better to leave because anger and harsh words can be really damaging and in some cases corrosive.


6. One partner is unhappy (or feels stuck or dead inside).

When someone isn’t happy and they think their marriage is the cause, they might decide that divorce is the best option. Sometimes their thoughts are valid, and other times it’s because they haven’t figured out how to feel happy or content on their own. It’s really important to get clear on what is making you unhappy before you leave a marriage because of your own unhappiness.


7. One partner is having an affair.

Affairs are usually a result of another problem(s)in a marriage (unless someone is a sex addict) and some couples cannot recover from an affair. Trust can be difficult to restore.


8. Substance abuse/Addiction.

Sometimes one person refuses to get help and the addiction is unhealthy and unsafe. Sometimes it is best to leave the marriage when addiction is untreated, especially if there are children in the home.


9. Domestic Violence.

This can be one of the hardest ones to deal with. Also, emotional abuse usually accompanies domestic violence. When someone can have a plan to leave, the marriage is usually long gone.


10. We want different things now/I have changed and my growth isn’t supported.

Everyone in life is constantly evolving/changing. It’s inevitable and it’s not always a bad thing. People can change in negative or positive ways. And sometimes when one partner changes in a certain way, the other partner can’t support or chooses not to support their partner’s growth. The misalignment can divide a couple and cause alienation for one or both partners.


These are top reasons for divorce, but how do you cope? How do you cope if you’re getting divorced because your spouse cheated or because he/she’s an alcoholic, or if you just want different things? Despite that there are many different reasons for divorce, there are a lot of similarities in how to cope.


That’s why so many divorcing men and women bond so well. Their reasons for divorce are each unique, but all can cope using these tips:


Be kind to yourself. That means letting yourself grieve, giving yourself a break (meaning everything doesn’t always have to be perfect) and doing nice things for yourself:taking walks, getting a massage, eating mindfully, etc.


Surround yourself with supportive friends. You know who you can count on and trust. You also know who might be toxic and unhealthy for you to be around. Recognize the difference and let the good ones support you.


Engage with a therapist and/or divorce coach. I think therapy and divorce coaching are smart ideas for anyone going through a divorce. It is a wonderful outlet and a way to feel heard and validated.


Visualize a new and different life. Be careful of negative self talk and limiting beliefs. Instead of negative thinking, view the future in the way you want it to look like.


Accept it’s an emotional roller coaster that will level out  (this is temporary). Weathering the storm is your only choice, but the good news is, it won’t be this way forever. In fact, things will get better sooner than you think.


Keep to a routine. Research shows that routines are healthy for people, and help them stay motivated, inspired and productive.


Focus on facts when you communicate with your ex. Try to keep emotions out of your conversations and just talk schedules, finances and other “business related” topics. Talking about the past or criticizing him/her will just lead to negative emotional feelings.


Don’t feel like you owe a full explanation to anyone. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I’d rather not talk about my divorce right now.” Instead, shift the conversation to the other person’s life.


In closing, your reason for getting divorced is important, but doesn’t mean as much as how you choose to cope, move on, and create a life that you love and that makes you happy. I wish you all the best during and after your divorce, and I’m here if you’d like to talk.


top reasons for divorce


Jenny Stevens, LCPC is a Divorce Coach and Therapist, who helps men and women navigate their lives pre, during and post divorce. With a masters degree in professional counseling and 15 years experience working as a therapist, Stevens personally went through a divorce and founded her company, Create Change Consultants during COVID; a time she felt many people were re-evaluating their lives and needed help designing a life they wanted and deserved. 

Stevens brings a warm, inviting and unique style to interactions with her clients. She cares deeply about helping others and supporting her clients to make the changes that they have always wanted, but weren’t equipped with the right tools to make those changes. She lives in Chicago with her two daughters and her dog, and loves spending time with her family and friends, combining exercise and meditation to keep her balanced.



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