The 5 Most Common Reasons People Get Divorced (& 5 Unusually Specific Ones)

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If you're asking yourself if you should get a divorce, there must be something going on in your married life that's making you doubt everything. Whatever your motivation is for looking up the most common reasons people get divorced, there are a few surprising research-based answers to your question.

Researchers interviewed 52 divorced individuals who had received the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) while engaged. In 2013, they presented their findings.

Here are the 5 most common reasons people get divorced, according to research

1. Lack of commitment

According to the research, the number one reason people divorce is a lack of commitment. This means that at least one spouse stopped making their marriage a priority, choosing instead to put other responsibilities first.

When a spouse decides to stop making a daily commitment to have a great relationship, misery follows. And, as the study found, leads to divorce down the road. A whopping 75% of individuals and by at least one person in 94.4% of couples said a lack of commitment was a major contributing factors to their divorce.

For some couples, the estrangement happened gradually. They drifted apart until one of them was unwilling to continue living with an unfulfilling marriage. For others, it was an abrupt change due to negative outside influences, such as infidelity.



No matter how that lack of commitment manifested in the marriage, it ended with the demise of the marriage.

RELATED: Why Your Spouse Should Be Your First Priority (Even If You Don't Feel Like Theirs)

2. Infidelity

One of the negative outside influences that can lead to a lack of commitment is the second major reason the researchers found couples divorced: infidelity.

With 59.6% of individuals and by at least one partner in 88.8% of couples citing infidelity as the cause of their divorce, it's a testament of how painful cheating in a marriage can be. As the study said, "Overall, infidelity was often cited as a critical turning point in a deteriorating relationship."

Infidelity is painful and changes both the betrayer and the betrayed. Some couples use infidelity to create stronger relationships and work to overcome their shortcomings. However, others find the betrayal of infidelity and/or trying to repair their relationship too agonizing and choose divorce instead.

3. Too much conflict

Over half of the individuals interviewed for the research (57.7% of individuals, and 72.2% of couples) cited too much conflict and arguing as a major reason they divorced.

According to the research, "Participants indicated that conflicts were not generally resolved calmly or effectively. Respondents also reported that such communication problems increased in frequency and intensity throughout their marriages which, at times, seemed to coincide with lost feelings of positive connections and mutual support."

5 Most Common Reasons People Get DivorcedPhoto: RDNE Stock project / Pexels

Subsequently, the conflicts in the marriage created a lack of effective communication. And when a couple has poor communication skills, it’s hard to resolve disagreements the correct way.

When disagreements are regularly left unresolved, it’s common for resentment to build. It’s also common for feelings of positive connection and mutual support to diminish. Without effective communication skills, these negative results can spiral into a lack of commitment and divorce.

RELATED: The Biggest Problem In Marriage, According To Therapists (And How To Fix It)

4. Marrying too young

Though there are plenty of successful marriages where couples married young, according to the study, age does have something to do with the success of a marriage. The data suggests that when couples wed, with at least one spouse in their early 20s or younger, they’re more likely to divorce.

The research concluded that 45.1% of individuals and at least one partner in 61.1% of couples reported getting married too young as a major factor that led to their divorce.



Some of the study participants reported that they had only known their future spouse a short time before marrying. Many of those who married too young also wished they had dated their future spouse longer to either gain a better perspective on the relationship or to make a more rational decision as to whom they should marry.

Some participants who stated that marrying too young was one of their major reasons for divorce also said they were too young to make mature, objective decisions about marriage.

5. Financial problems

Of the study participants who reported that financial problems were a major contributor to divorce (36.7% of individuals and at least one partner from 55.6% of couples), many said it wasn’t the main reason.

Instead, the financial difficulties added stress and tension to their relationship. Interestingly, other participants stated that their financial problems were due to other issues like health problems, substance abuse, and infidelity.

5 Most Common Reasons People Get DivorcedPhoto: Mikhail Nilov / Pexels

RELATED: 10 Really Surprising Reasons Women Turn To Divorce

In all, the study lists 11 reasons for divorce, including substance abuse, domestic violence, health problems, lack of support from family, religious differences, and little or no premarital education.

But what’s interesting to note is that the study was conducted after the divorces were final, and that these reasons for divorce were typically the deeper reasons and not necessarily the last straw that led one of the spouses to file for divorce.

However, these aren’t the only reasons couples divorce. There are all kinds of strange, sad, and frightening conditions that can play into the decision to call it quits.

Here are 5 of the most unusual reasons people have divorced:

  1. In Italy, a 99-year-old man divorced his 96-year-old wife after 77 years of marriage because he discovered an affair she had in the 1940s.
  2. In 2007, a Bosnian coupled filed for divorce after discovering they were having an online affair with each other.
  3. A German woman divorced her neat-freak husband after 15 years of marriage because he rebuilt a wall in their home simply because it was dirty.
  4. A Nigerian woman divorced her husband for talking too much and not keeping family secrets.
  5. An American woman divorced her husband for hiring a hitman to kill her. (Despite his best attempt, the hitman was unsuccessful.)

People have a multitude of motives for wanting to know the various reasons for divorce.

Maybe they want to understand why their spouse has chosen to break things off instead of working on their marriage. Maybe they want to know if what they’re going through in their marriage is worthy of a divorce. Or maybe they’re just curious about why people divorce, in general.

Regardless of your motivation for wanting to know the most common reasons people get divorced, these two very different lists point out something very important.

People divorce for all kinds of reasons — big and small. Some of the reasons make a lot of sense and some just leave you shaking your head. But either way, it probably has you deciding if your marriage is worth saving, or if it's time to call it quits.

RELATED: 5 Signs A Marriage Cannot Be Saved (And You Should Stop Trying)

Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach. Her writing on marriage, divorce, and co-parenting has appeared on MSN, Yahoo, Psych Central, Huffington Post, Prevention, and The Good Men Project, among others.

This article was originally published at Dr. Karen Finn. Reprinted with permission from the author.