6 Most Common Reasons Marriages End In Divorce — And Whether Counseling Can Help

It's never too early in your marital conflict to seek counseling.

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In my experience as a couples counselor, there are certain key issues that increase the likelihood that a couple will divorce. Many of these are common issues, so if they resonate with you, it is never too early in your marital conflict to seek counseling.

The saddest thing I see is when couples divorce over an issue that has been getting worse and worse for a decade or more, and it is something that could have been resolved earlier in their marriage before they had too much bitterness and resentment between them. 


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Here are 6 of the most common reasons marriages end in divorce — and whether counseling can help the couple move forward:

1. Infidelity

There are two ways that infidelity can lead to divorce: either the cheating partner decides to leave — either for the affair partner or because they have realized what is missing in the marriage via having the affair — or the betrayed partner is too angry to consider trying to forgive and repair.


In both cases, counseling can have a very beneficial impact, allowing the couple space to discuss their emotions and grievances with an objective trained professional acting as a mediator and coach. Without this third party present, discussions about infidelity often snowball into horrific shouting matches.

A therapist can help both the betrayed and the betraying party by normalizing their feelings and showing them multiple paths forward, as well as educating them about why affairs happen (it often doesn’t have anything to do with the relationship itself, but is a way for the cheating partner to work through their own insecurities/needs/fears).

2. Money

Money issues are a major source of conflict within marriages.

Therapy can certainly help couples work through their anger and fear around these issues, but a financial planner is equally as useful.


A therapist’s role is to help both partners empathize with one another and understand why they have such wildly different perspectives about spending and saving. A financial planner can help with actionable steps.

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3. Sex drive differences

When a partner feels their sexual needs aren’t being met, and the other feels pushed and trapped into having sex that they don’t want, marriages can implode.

A therapist can help a great deal with issues surrounding sex, which are really never only about sex, but about intimacy, trust, and connection (on both sides). Sex therapists can help with specific sexual issues, like premature ejaculation. Also, a physician, particularly a functional medicine doctor, can help with any hormone-related issues that may be at play.


4. Communication

When couples are unable to discuss differing perspectives without a huge argument erupting, or partners do not feel able to express their feelings or needs to one another, therapy can help.

Therapists can help partners understand why they communicate so differently (often, a family of origin differences), how to speak one another’s language and take one another’s perspective, and can teach concrete communication skills.

Also, when miscommunications occur within a session, therapists are able to get a real-time window into the couple’s usual communication issues and coach them to respond to one another in new and healthier ways.

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5. Parenting differences

Often, differences in how partners parent reflect deeper issues with incompatibility. But therapy can educate partners about child development, what kids need from parents, and how to prioritize your marriage and not fall into the trap of child-centeredness.

You and your partner can also recognize your individual parenting strengths and weaknesses, and learn how to respect and appreciate what each of you brings to the table as a parent.

Step-parents can often benefit a great deal from therapy, particularly step-parents who have not parented a child of their own prior to the marriage, as it can help them better understand what their stepchild may be thinking and feeling, and how to understand and respect the child’s conflicted feelings without losing yourself in the process.

6. Falling out of love

I would like to say that therapy can help with this, but I have not really seen it yet.


Therapy can, however, help you figure out whether you have truly fallen out of love with your partner or whether there are other issues that need to be addressed before this decision can be made.

Individual therapy can help with your own personal life dissatisfaction and family-of-origin issues. Couples therapy can help you determine whether what you call "falling out of love" may actually be hopelessness stemming from repeated conflict about one of the prior issues. In this case, couples may "fall back in love" when this issue is finally resolved.

If any of these speak to you, share them with your partner and see if they might be willing to speak to a counselor with you.


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Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of DrPsychMom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.