Money, family, and infidelity are a few common causes of divorce found in surveys conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. We’ll explore these issues and what you can do to avoid issues with them, but first, there’s one thing you should know.
From over a decade of experience in working with divorcing couples, the underlying reason for almost every divorce case is lack of communication. Yes, even in cases over money, it was the lack of conversations about money that led to the relationship’s demise. So let’s start here.
Communication is the Most Common Cause of Divorce
It’s as simple as that. To break it down even further, let’s distinguish between the meaning of lack of communication vs ineffective communication.
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Lack of (or Absent) Communication Vs Ineffective Communication
Lack of communication refers to not communicating enough or at all with your partner. Couples often fall victim to avoiding tough or serious conversations before getting married. They’re afraid that having talks about serious stuff could jeopardize their relationship. However, they’re not realizing that bringing to light potential incompatibilities before getting married could save them time, money, and stress in marriage or, at worse, divorce.
Ineffective communication means that you and your partner are saying things to each other, but are not hearing each other or understanding each other’s points of view. You’re trying to converse, but the message simply isn’t coming across. Perhaps one of you is speaking over the other person, playing the blame game, patronizing the other person, lying, or using hurtful language.
Though words are coming out, they’re not used to build the relationship. To solve for ineffective communication, work with a therapist or marriage counselor. If you need a reference, reach out to us and we can connect you with a trusted professional in our network.
Since ineffective communication is best solved by working with a therapist, we’ll focus on issues born from a lack of communication.
You didn’t have the prenup talk before getting married. That means financial decisions become a guessing game and reactive process. You’re surprised to learn your partner’s spending habits. Money randomly flows in and out of various bank accounts with no accountability or discussion on separate versus community property.
Money issues are typically cited as the most common reason for divorce, but it’s a symptom of a deeper problem! You never talked about money, so now it’s a complete mess.
To get on the right track, use this guide to talking money with your partner. It works whether you’re dating someone seriously, engaged, or finally broaching the subject in marriage.
(Extended) Family Problems
The caricature and comical representation of in-laws in TV shows is really just a euphemism for the common deep divides that exist between two sides of a family. Family boundaries are definitely something to look out for before getting married.
If you don’t talk to each other about your family’s culture, traditions, beliefs, religion, and points of view before getting married, then be prepared for a rude awakening after you tie the knot. You’ll be surprised how many people rely on family money and depend on their parents for answers.
Unless you’re interested in marrying your in-laws, start asking questions about your partner’s past and how you want to shape your collective future.
When you don’t talk about love and sex, then it can quickly become the silent marriage killer. If your partner’s working a lot, leaving little room for intimate moments, your mind will figure out a way to deal with the frustration. This can lead to mood swings, binging, addiction, and even infidelity.
Be honest with yourself and your partner. Tell them how you feel about the quality of your sex life. Work with coaches to help you bridge the gap when discussing sensitive topics. Don’t stop dating each other and finding ways to learn about each other’s budding interests.
Disagreements Over Children
Whether it’s the decision to have children or the way you’re raising them, lack of communication here can lead to marriage-ending results.
If you’re serious while dating someone, it’s crucial that you know where you stand on all things that involve children (ie. family involvement, religious upbringing, schools, social media, screen time, etc.) and have that conversation sooner than later with your partner. Let them know your stance, so they can rejoice, readjust, or retract. Give them a chance to think it through and get back to you. After all, it’s a huge pivotal topic.
Similarly, talk thoroughly about parenting techniques and guidelines before the baby’s born. Establish monthly (or more frequent) check-ins to make sure you both are still on the same page. Don’t go rogue when it comes to raising children. Doing so can have negative effects on your marriage and on your kids.
If you’re nearing or already in the middle of a divorce, you can still use effective communication to make the process go smoother and achieve a cordial divorce. However, if you’re thinking about marriage or looking to improve the health of your marital relationship, start by talking openly, honestly, and frequently. Equally important is taking the time to truly listen to your partner when they are speaking. If you need expert help in navigating these discussions with a mediator or divorce consultant, feel free to reach out to me — I’d be happy to help.