Most of us want to meet and settle down with the right person, and want that relationship to be healthy, happy, and lasting. At the same time, approximately 40-50% of marriages in America ultimately end in divorce. To help avoid the common pitfalls that dissolves marriages and relationships, here are some of the most prevalent reasons relationships fail.
The lack or loss of trust is one of the most harmful impediments to a couple’s long-term success. Without trust, a relationship misses two of the key anchors for forging and maintaining a strong bond: safety and security. Trust issues can manifest in a number of ways, such as jealousy, possessiveness, unreasonable rigidity, emotional infidelity, physical/sexual infidelity, relational game playing, lack of reliability or dependability, and lack of emotional support. The specific reasons why people come to couples therapy are often symptoms of a greater underlying mistrust within the relationship, and is a major reason relationships fail.
It’s not easy for a couple to be on the same wavelength for an extended period of time. The elements that frequently draw two people together at the beginning of a relationship – physical attraction, common interests, similar socio-economic backgrounds – often become less central as the realities and demands of day-to-day life set in. Over time, a couple’s expectations in the relationship may diverge. This is evident when couples begin to distinguish between “what I want” versus “what we want” when talking about their goals and aspirations. Divergence in expectations over time is another reason relationships fail.
When one partner is learning and growing at a rapid pace, while the other is staying static, this may be a source of relational divergence. One example of this would be a partner advancing quickly in her career, while the other stays in an unfulfilling job. The professional and social circles of the couple begin to diverge, and soon the couple themselves begin to diverge. They have physically, intellectually, and socially grown apart. To avoid this reason relationships fail, it is important to share with each other your respective value systems.
This is a big one. Numerous studies have identified communication (or a lack thereof) as one of the top reasons for couples seek therapy, as well as one of the top reasons for break-ups and divorces. The single, best predictor of divorce is when one or both partners show contempt in the relationship. Contempt, the opposite of respect, is often expressed via negative judgment, criticism, or sarcasm regarding the worth of an individual. In communication studies, this is known as being “tough on the person, soft on the issue.”
Life habit abuses are traits which, although may or may not directly involve the partner (such as a secret gambling addiction), may ultimately affect the relationship in a destructive way. Examples of life habit abuse include problem drinking, drug use, gambling, excessive shopping or spending. Habits or addictions such as these put tremendous strain on relationships and feed into other problem areas, like lack of trust or poor communication.
If any of the previously mentioned four problems resonates with you, there are a couple of factors to consider: If you have been in a relationship for two years or less, and you and your partner have “grown apart,” it could be due to a lack of commitment, different expectations, lack of compatibility, or the natural process of trial-and-error in finding the right partner. If you are in a long-term relationship, it is possible that life obligations (such as school, work, and especially child-rearing) got in the way of your connectedness and mutual evolvement.
The longer a couple has been together in a committed relationship, the greater the possibility of financial incompatibility. According to research, differences over money is one of the top reasons for marital dissolution. But a couple also doesn’t need to be married to have money challenges. Money issues tap into some of our deepest psychological needs and fears, including and not limited to trust, safety, security, power, control, and survival.