I came across this post title, “The 5 Most Common Reasons Marriages Fail, According to a Divorce Lawyer” Let’s dig into the reasons marriages fail in the words of a lawyer who helps couples get divorced.
5 Reasons Most Marriages Fail:
- Not Seeking a Therapist for Anger Management or Depression
- Refusing to Get Help for Alcohol or Drug Addictions
- Frustration Over Money Problems
- Problems With Infidelity
- Refusal to Go to Couple’s Therapy
Okay, I’m going to give this attorney some kudos for identifying the main cause for my divorce. In the most simplistic form, my marriage fell apart when I decided that killing myself at a big corporate job was not the way forward. My then-wife, who was working around 20 hours a week, was very happy getting to meet the bus after school. She was also happy at having a housekeeper and a nanny who could take the kids and provide an occasional nutritional meal. She was feeling supported by the status quo and when my golden parachute allowed us 8-months to reconfigure, she opted-out of the marriage rather than work on a new financial arrangement with me.
Yes, there were other problems. But of the 5, only money comes across as something we didn’t agree on. We did go to couple’s therapy. We each had therapists of our own. We didn’t appear to have any alcohol or drug addictions, though there was a propensity on both sides towards dependency. And with the exception of one emotional infidelity failure (See this post from The Off Parent: The Crushing Impact of Emotional Infidelity on My Marriage) neither of us sought a sexual liaison outside of our commitment.
Even When You Try Marriages Can Still Fail
Even with the best of efforts, and good therapy, our marriage still failed over the issue of money and who was going back to work. There’s an irony here that cannot go unmentioned. As my then-wife was refusing to get a full-time job alongside me as we moved into the next phase of our lives. (The kids were getting ready to graduate from 3rd and 5th grades.) After the divorce, even with a hefty child support payment, she had to get a full-time job anyway. And without my support, her full-time experience was one of the things that seemed to stress her out more than anything else about the divorce. As we ended over money, she always tended to be hyper-focused on money, even when there were no problems in the balance sheet.
Let’s jump into the other reasons marriages fail and see if there are solutions or ideas that might prove helpful.
1, 2, and 5 all have to do with therapy of some sort. Taking care of what you are struggling with is a major requirement of staying in and maintaining a healthy relationship, married or unmarried. These personal issues are certainly relationship killers if left untreated. The problem is also that these issues are INDIVIDUAL FIGHTS and not a couple’s issue. If one partner is struggling with major emotional, chemical, or spiritual problems it is going to cause a lot of stress on any relationship.
The Big Three Personal Problems Keeping Us Down
- Anger Management
- Alcohol or Drug Dependency
There are various ways of tackling these issues if the individual wants to change them. The first step, however, is the biggest one: the willingness to admit there is a problem. It’s interesting that this article on Fatherly, a site I know and love, promises “And how to avoid them,” but offers ZERO ideas of how to avoid these pitfalls.
Help for those struggling with personal emotional and mental issues. Therapy and coaching are both good sources of inspiration and information about most emotional problems you might be dealing with. Another source of great comfort and support for me has been attending Al-Anon meetings on a regular basis. You don’t have to be in a relationship with an active drinker to benefit from Al-Anon meetings. What Al-Anon teaches us from the very start is the problem is not with another person’s drinking, drugging, or abusive behavior, the problem is with OUR reaction and response to their dysfunction. We learn, in both therapy and Al-Anon that WE are responsible for OUR OWN happiness. We have little ability to make another person happy if they are depressed.
Depression, Anger Issues, and Alcoholism or Drug Dependency are personal crisis issues. An individual must address their own personal demons on their own. It’s helpful if you can work with an individual therapist or a coach to get control of the things in your individual life that are making you unhappy. Only by finding your own inner balance and happiness can you bring that balanced leadership and love to your family. Wounded people cannot function well in relation to others. As parents, we will bring our own problems down on the hearts and minds of our loved ones. Take charge of your emotional and chemical issues before they wreck your life.
Fighting and struggling around money is one of the most common relationship fights. Money, in some basic sense, means power. The person who controls the money gets to make decisions on what is bought, what vacations are taken, what opportunities are passed on and what adventures can be opened up for the entire family. As a family, money issues can be hard. Who’s going to earn the money? Who’s going to pay the bills and do the accounting? Who’s going to reign in the over-spender? How can we balance our income with our desired lifestyle?
The cleanest way to deal with money as a couple is to share the process of both earning and spending money. In many relationships, couples make choices about who will stay at home with the kids and who will continue on their full-time job track in order to support the lifestyle and family values that each parent has agreed upon. When things get crosswise, when money gets tight, the relationship may experience stress. In my marriage, when I was interested in resetting our financial agreement my then-wife decided to fight me rather than work on a compromise. This fracture was the fundamental rift that killed my marriage.
Emotional and sexual infidelity are terminal issues in my option. Once the proverbial bridge has been burned it can be very hard to rebuild the trust. I have heard that couples who are committed to rebuilding and resetting their marriages are capable of staying in a marriage after an infidelity. In my case, my ex-wife had a several weeks “lunching” relationship with a young man from her office. What I didn’t really understand until years after my divorce, was this was the same maneuver she was executing when she started having lunch with me. She was living with a man while she was taking lunches with me. I did keep trying to rebuild and reconnect with my wife, but the violation was fundamental and contributed to our eventual divorce.
To me, the idea of infidelity needs to be addressed BEFORE it is acted on. If you are thinking about seeking love and affection outside of the marriage, you need to ask and work on what is not wonderful in your marriage. If your needs are not being met in your primary relationship, it is YOUR responsibility to speak up. If you don’t ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT you cannot complain when don’t get it.
The Promise of Couples Therapy
Just going to couples therapy opens up the possibility for a healthy. In couples therapy you can express what’s not working for you. You can attempt to understand what’s not working for your partner. And, if things go well, you can decide to keep working on celebrating and creating WINS in your relationship while minimizing and moving away from the MISSES in your relationship.
It is only through constant micro-corrections that we can stay engaged, in love, and connected in your primary intimate relationship. We don’t ever get a day off from being compassionate and thoughtful. And when you are well-attached to your lover it becomes easier to make choices that move towards their heart rather than away from their heart.
How Coaching Differs from Therapy
In my coaching business, I have worked with couples to help them realign their objectives and make agreements around their emotional challenges (as a couple and as individuals). What’s different about coaching is I am tuning in to what the COUPLE needs and how to get there. While we discuss how a particular behavior or event might trigger old emotional hurts, our objective is to align both partners in their actions and words. Just like a fitness coach, a life coach is going to help you set YOUR goals and the work up plans of action to help you get there. As a couple these goals will often focus on intimacy, chores, money, and (if parents) raising the kids.
And I’m making it easy to get started with coaching. I’m giving away a 30-minute coaching session for free. We can start down the path of identifying your goals and see if working together makes sense. Here’s the link: BOOK A 30-MINUTE CALL with John.
I will leave you with this.
- You are responsible for your own happiness.
- A relationship will push all of your edges and help you to confront your personal challenges.
- As a coach I can help you navigate RELATIONSHIP BUILDING. (see articles below)
- The introductory call is free.
John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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How I Can Help
I am a relationship coach and a dating coach. I coach women in small groups as well as individual 1 x 1 zoom calls. If you have questions about life coaching I am happy to talk to you. Please schedule a phone call HERE.
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Relationship Building Articles
- Emotional Intelligence Essentials for Long-Term Relationship Success
- Relationship Building Skills & Wisdom: BRAVING & The Four Agreements
- Own Your Pain, Leave the Rest Alone: Relationship Building Skills
- 7 Laws of Healthy Relationship Building: What Are We All Hungry For?
- Finding My Authentic Self: Can You See the Real Me?
- I Know My Depression Frightens You: It’s Okay, We’re In This Together
- My Porcupine Period: Expressing Dissatisfaction In My Marriage
- Managing Depression In Romantic Relationships: Getting Real w/ Myself
- Keeping Your Cool When Your Lover Is On Fire with Rage
- Depression in a Relationship: Keep Climbing the Hill Together
- Focusing On the Other Person is a Trap
- Are You Receiving Me? When Not Listening Turns Towards Divorce
Parenting Guidance Ideas
- Parenting Lesson: Always Consider Lightening Your Kid’s Load
- Focus on Your Kid’s Strengths
- Connecting with Teenagers One at a Time on Their Terms, Always
- Teenaged Kids? Hard to Reach or Open to New Opportunities?
- 7 Messages Parents Need Their Teenaged Kids to Hear
- Whole Parent Tip: Getting Your Teen to Bed on Time
- The Single Dad and His Teenaged Kids
- Co-parenting Revised: Sex and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll
- The Joy of Young Parents
- The 3 Immutable Laws of Positive Co-Parenting
- Next-Level Parenting: Being Awesome Even in Divorce
- The Transformation of Love and Parenting in Marriage and Divorce
Individual Growth Advice
- You Are Loved: A Meditation on Self-love and Self-awareness
- I’ve Lost My Fire: How to Regain a Passionate Life
- The Hero’s Journey of Depression: The Max Powers Story
- Asking for Support is Hard for Most of Us, Especially Men
- 5 Health Factors to Prevent or Lessen Seasonal Depression: Get Support
- Let’s Make Some Changes and See What Happens
- Self-Care and Appreciation: Can I Love All of Myself Right Now?
- Can You Love Yourself As Much As You Desire Someone Else?
Here are my books on Amazon:
- Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce: Advice and Strategies on Learning How to be Loved Again
- Fall of the House of Dad: My journey through divorce, from loss to joy, again and again
- A Good Dad’s Guide to Divorce: One father’s quest to stay connected with his children
- The Sex Index: Getting Our Love Languages Right in the Bedroom
- Here Comes the Darkness: Surviving and Thriving After a Mental Illness Diagnosis
- The Third Glass: When Drinking Becomes an Issue
- The Storm Before the Divorce: When One Parent Wants Out, That’s the End