10 Experts Reveal The Small Actions That Lead To Divorce

Cheating is still a marriage ender, but there are many other reasons couples choose to divorce.

sad unhappy married couple MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Married people choose to divorce for many reasons. Sometimes, they simply grow apart over time. Others may develop irreconcilable differences about ... well, about a lot of things.

Others might be victims of domestic abuse — physical or emotional. Or the atmosphere at home can become so tense that even a simple miscommunication can launch a battle royale of shouted insults.

Divorce can be caused by the frivolous (he hated the movie Frozen) or the serious (she had never watched Star Wars).


Money, kids, in-laws, dishonesty, boredom ... anything that creates major conflict can trigger a split if the bond proves tenuous. 

And then there is the catch-all cause: infidelity. 

To gain a deeper understanding of what might lead to divorce (besides the discovery of an extra-marital affair), we asked a panel of YourTango Experts to share the causes of divorce, other than infidelity.

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Here, 10 experts reveal the small actions that lead to divorce:

1. You feel contempt for each other

As a clinical psychologist, one of the biggest relationship red flags I see in couples who may be headed for divorce is contempt for one another. Contempt is an extreme disregard for your partner’s value as a person coming from a place of superiority.


It signals perhaps the most problematic and dysfunctional aspects of romantic relationships because it expresses a sentiment that one partner is superior to the other. And it is easily seen in their interactions and communication.

For example, people who hold contempt for their partner will belittle them, put them down, and even intentionally say mean things to make them feel bad.

Dr. Cortney Warren, board-certified clinical psychologist, adjunct psychologist, UNLV School of Medicine

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2. You have divergent parenting philosophies

When couples have different parenting styles it can result in divorce and the children may feel like they are to blame for the separation. So, discuss how you want to raise your children before you become parents!


- Dr. Ava Cadell, love and relationship coach

3. You were never compatible

It might be that you were a mismatch from the start, or one or both of you are a child of divorced parents. You might also never have sat down together and planned your life, or you never had any happy marriage training at school or church.

Without knowing it you might be exactly like your unhappy parents. Finally, it might be that you went to a marriage counselor who asked "What's wrong with your marriage?" instead of "What's right with your marriage?"

- Jack Kinney, owner, Jack Kinney & Associates LLC

RELATED: Expert Survey Reveals The #1 Reason Couples Divorce

4. You stopped having fun

People tend to get married and reduce the amount of effort.


They are putting into the relationship. Perhaps they stop going to the gym, stop doing date nights, or stop wearing sexy clothing around the house. We need to keep courting our partner. Have fun with it. Flirt and tease. Try new things together. When the relationship is no longer new, it is up to you to fuel it with new things.

- Erika Jordan, love coach, NLP

5. You stopped communicating

Bad communication. When a spouse cuts you off in conversation and doesn't genuinely listen, all communication can break down — as can the marriage.

- Marla Martenson, matchmaker, and transformational coach

6. You lost intimacy and sexual connection

Outside of infidelity some of the biggest symptoms to divorce stem from a lack of intimacy with the couple. This comes from not giving the attention to each other that is required to keep a relationship thriving and growing.


We see this through surface-level communication, a need to be right instead of coming together — drifting apart in values and life goals.

The next piece is focused on the lack of sexual connection, which is built through laughter and playfulness, seduction, and a focus on investing conscious time together without interruption and making out like teenagers consistently. And then a lack of appreciation for each other is another big issue that leads to divorce. When couples stop being respectful, polite, and validating to each other it causes more challenges than you can imagine.

- Rene Schooler, relationship, love and intimacy master coach

RELATED: The 4 Behaviors That Cause 90% Of All Divorces


7. You squandered emotional support

Marriages can end when partners seek and find emotional support outside the relationship.

- Audrey Tait, therapist and counselor

8. You argued or there was physical abuse

In addition to infidelity, there are a number of marriage actions that lead to divorce.

A couple of major ones are frequent arguing and domestic violence. These two go hand-in-hand, in that one often can lead to the other and both are massively destructive, often resulting in separation and divorce. Frequent arguing displays a lack of respect, understanding, and dangerous power dynamics.

Levels of resentment and anger that are held inside eventually rise to the surface. When they become outwardly aggressive this can create an unsafe and unstable environment for both partners. At that point, the circumstances become violent causing both physical and emotional harm to the living situation for both partners and any children involved require change.


- Larry Michel, love shepherd and founder,Institute of Genetic Energetics

RELATED: 5 Reasons Some Marriages Don't Work — Until After The Divorce

9. You disagree about money

Partners can be irrevocably divided over decisions to relocate, different lifestyle choices, disagreement about child rearing and other monetary concerns.


Dr. Liz Zed, coach and counselor

10. You forget how to overcome contempt 

Contempt erodes the bond that holds a couple securely together. It is known to be the biggest predictor of divorce, and conveys, “I’m better than you. I don’t respect you.”

Contempt is so destructive, in fact, that couples who are contemptuous of each other are more likely to suffer from infectious illness than couples who are not contemptuous of each other. The target of contempt is made to feel despised and worthless — a recipe for divorce.

The antidote lies in building fondness and admiration.

Eva Van Prooyen, marriage and family therapist, relationship specialist


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Carter Gaddis is the senior editor for experts and wellness with YourTango.