Divorce in America has steadily declined over the past four decades. The latest figures indicate the divorce rate is lower than it’s been since 1970. Even so, couples entering their first marriage today have roughly a 50% chance of getting divorced. It seems the odds are relatively high, which can be discouraging for young people.
Luckily, there are ways to boost your chances of living happily ever after. You just have to keep an eye out for relationship red flags like the ones below.
While couples may file divorce for any number of reasons, these are the five most common. The more you avoid them, the better off your marriage will be.
1. Lack of Commitment
When you get married, you commit your heart and soul to your partner for “as long as you both shall live.” Yet, many couples cite a lack of commitment as the top reason for divorce. Typically, one partner blames the other for letting their dedication slip — and for the breakdown of their marriage. But, you know what they say. It takes two to tango, which means lack of commitment is often a two-sided issue.
Couples who wish to stay fully committed to one another can avoid this very common problem by taking their vows seriously and updating them as they grow together in marriage. Create a commitment statement that includes rules or boundaries that make you both feel more stable and secure. Nix the blame game, learn to compromise and work on becoming better friends. A sense of deeper love and commitment will naturally follow.
2. Infidelity and Extramarital Affairs
The second most common reason for divorce is infidelity or extramarital affairs. More than 90% of people report having an opportunity to cheat on their partner, while about half actually go through with it and commit adultery. Meanwhile, 55% of married couples experience both emotional and physical infidelity. Researchers have determined this unforgivable transgression to be a predictor of divorce across 160 societies.
Infidelity happens in both good and bad marriages, so the idea that having a perfect marriage will prevent an affair is a fallacy. Instead, couples can avoid these issues by remaining emotionally and physically faithful to each other. Talk about monogamy and what that looks like within a marriage relationship and don’t put yourselves in compromising situations.
3. Communication Issues
Roughly half of married couples cite poor communication as their top reason for divorce. Most of them point to constant arguing, fighting or the cold shoulder. However, other issues, like money and family responsibilities, are often the root of these communication problems. In these instances, it’s important to discuss disagreements, so a fair fight may actually be a good thing every now and then.
Of course, if your arguments are disrespectful or frequently about the same topic, it might be a red flag for communication issues. Regardless of who thinks they’re right, you might need help learning how to better communicate, perhaps through couple therapy. Sometimes, having a mediator can promote clarity and calm so you can reach compromises and strengthen your relationship.
4. Growing Apart
People grow and change, whether they’re single or in a relationship. At some point, couples may grow closer to one another. Other times, they’ll grow further apart. Eventually, one might feel incompatible with the other, or the feeling might be mutual. Either way, these relationships often end in divorce because, by the time they realize it, the two people are too dissimilar to easily reconnect.
At this point, they can seek help and find ways to reconnect or grow together again. However, it’s best to avoid the situation altogether by recognizing the signs of disconnection. If you experience a lack of connection, intimacy, trust and empathy in your marriage, share your concerns with your spouse and focus on supporting one another and meeting the other’s needs. Most importantly, have fun together and create new memories full of depth and connection.
5. Financial Incompatibility
Many divorced couples blame their separation on financial problems, namely, how their ex-spouses handled money. However, financial incompatibility might be a better name for it. Fights over money usually stem from differences in priorities and values. Thus, their financial goals and decisions are incompatible.
Unsurprisingly, couples with lower incomes are more likely to name financial incompatibility as their top reason for divorce. However, even the most underprivileged pair can find compatibility by taking interest in stewardship and finances. Decide how best to combine — or separate — your money while keeping your marriage intact and get an advisor to help, if necessary.
For Better or Worse
Research suggests that up to 15% of divorced couples eventually reconcile. However, your odds of staying together are much higher if you never break up in the first place. After all, you promised to stick by their side, for better or worse, so you must make an effort to repair and save the relationship.
Better yet, make your marriage a priority from the start. That way you can avoid the topic of divorce altogether, and live happily ever after, just as you intended when you said “I do.”