As a divorce mediator and lawyer for more than 25 years, people often ask me why most people divorce.

While infidelity may be fodder for great movies, there are loads of other reasons that marriages fail.  Whether you find yourself in litigation or going through family mediation,  it’s important to remember, you are going to be okay and you are not alone.

Here are five of the most common reasons people get divorced:


Opposites attract. And when you’re at the beginning of a relationship, what makes your partner different from you can be exciting. But down the line, having opposing personalities, beliefs, or opinions may not always be healthy for your marriage – especially when you are constantly clashing with your spouse, unable to find resolutions to arguments that crop up again and again.

The upside of having different and even opposing views or characteristics from your partner is that these can bring variety in your shared lives. Differing views offer fresh perspectives, and contrasting characteristics can be complementary.

But what you might think is fiery passion during fights at the beginning of your relationship can just as easily turn into the same old, boring, tiresome fight you’ll have over and over again. There’s a fine line between having differences and being too different, and crossing that line could make or break a marriage.


Marriage is work. When you commit to someone in marriage, it is not a one-off promise you make when you sign those papers; it is a choice you make… Every. Single. Day.

Joining your life together with someone else means that every time you make a life decision, you not only have to think about what’s good for you; it follows that you must consider what’s good for your partner as well.

Sound like a chore? Sometimes it is, and that’s okay – commitment isn’t always easy. Happy marriages don’t always have spouses that are in sync all the time, but they do have partners that are committed to making them together. What makes it more likely for a marriage to end in divorce is when spouses have compatibility or communication issues that make commitment difficult and sometimes, impossible.


All relationships thrive on communication, be it romantic, or platonic. It’s especially detrimental to a marriage when spouses are unable to communicate well, a lot of the roads that lead to divorce are mired with signs of bad communication.

Take incompatibility for example. Not being able to communicate well could turn a small argument into a huge fight. Having differences or being different are not insurmountable challenges in a relationship, but not being able to communicate well enough to find resolutions to these could very well lead to the end of a relationship.

Feelings of neglect or disconnect, which eventually lead to people drifting apart, could also stem from bad communication. Some people end up cheating because of this, too.

mended heart puzzle


Cheating is certainly one of the top reasons people separate. But it’s not always the root cause of the separation.

There is a myriad of reasons why a married person might cheat. Sometimes it’s because of their personality; some people are pre-disposed to behave that way, or perhaps it’s due to their upbringing. Other times it’s because they that something is lacking in their marriage, and go looking for whatever’s missing in an affair.

Whatever the motivation, what makes infidelity unique from the rest of the reasons in this list is that when it isthe reason, it is almost always just the straw that broke the camel’s back. Oftentimes, extramarital affairs are a symptom of a bigger, underlying issue that the relationship, or one or both of the spouses, already have.

ALSO, infidelity does not mean that a partner has had a sexual relationship outside the marriage.  It may also be financial or emotional.



In my new book, What You Need To Know Before You Get Married, I dedicate a chapter to finance in marriage. It is that important. No matter how unromantic it is to consider, one of the biggest facets of a marital union is its financial aspect.

At the end of the day, you cannot avoid sharing finances or financial burdens when you share your life with someone. It will always come up.  And when there is a constant strain on the financial aspect of your marriage, it becomes all the more difficult to navigate other parts of your marriage smoothly. Understanding the reasons marriages fail is a great way to ensure your next marriage is going to be better.

Financial problems could take many forms, from incompatible spending styles to disputes in financial decisions. It could even stem lack in communication; for example, when you suddenly find out your spouse is in debt… and so are you.

But it’s not the end of the world. At the end of the day, the divorce statistic is just a number. The end of a marriage does not define who you are or your worth as a person; it is rather a transition from something that might not have been that good to something that is hopefully better.

And while of course you must leave your relationship with your ex in the past (where it rightfully belongs), it doesn’t mean that you can’t take the lessons that you’ve learned with you. Your journey doesn’t end at divorce, and knowing and understanding how you got there can only help you have better relationships in the future.

If you are going through divorce and have questions about divorce mediation, litigation or divorce strategy coaching, contact me and let’s see how we may work together.

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P.S. Want more tools and resources to stay positive during a divorce? Download my Free Divorce Survive & Thrive Kit below!


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DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. 


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