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The 14 Most Overlooked Reasons Why Marriages Fail


Marriages fail for many reasons, but knowing these primary reasons marriages fail will help you avoid some of the pitfalls common to most couples.

All relationships, whether romantic or friendly, start with a basic motivation of attraction. This motivation may focus on beauty, sex appeal, personality, wealth, power, intelligence, popularity, sense of humor, or any other source of human attraction.

When a relationship starts with these basic human attractions, it’s long-term survival will directly correlate with the ability of these attractions to last through the years. Each spouse must continue to perform at the original attraction level or disappointment will occur.

As soon as sex appeal diminishes or wealth dwindles, or those cute quirks become annoying, the attraction will fade.

Focusing on a spouse’s performance to maintain the original attraction does not work over the long-term. Each of us is self-centered, we constantly want to know what our spouse as done for us lately. (? What have you done for me lately…Ooh ooh ooh yeah! ?  I digress…)

We often get bored or annoyed with what they are or are not doing.

As time passes we can begin to lose interest or compare our spouse’s performance with that of others. Tragically, our preoccupation with performance leads to disappointment, conflict, compromise, lost feelings, martial affairs, competition, pride, abuse, emotional scarring, and ultimately a lukewarm marriage or divorce.

When one spouse focuses on the other’s performance, it usually leads to destruction of the relationship.

The statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce has been highly debated and disputed over the last few years, yet that number just keeps swirling around. It often prolongs younger generations’ decision on when or whether to marry. Although the divorce rate varies depending on demographics, it can happen to any couple, and wanting to prevent a permanent parting of ways is a very real concern for most couples. While finances and communication have been cited as some of the most common causes for divorce, we asked the experts about the most overlooked reasons that marriages fail.

01 Lack of Investment. We think of investments in regard to money. But we forget about the time investment and education investment that we need to have in learning how to maintain successful marriages. “Why do we think we don’t need any skills when going into a marriage? What other job do we sign up for without any training?” asks Sadler. Sadler’s advice includes simply investing time in each other that may include 2-3 hours of your undivided attention for your partner and of course seeking out couples’ counseling and/or books to help you navigate the obstacles of a marriage.

02 Unforgiveness. Our inability to truly forgive our partners in marriage is one of the major reasons that they fail. True forgiveness is when we are able to treat our partners as if the offense never happened which proves to be very difficult for couples. We are constantly reliving the trauma of past experiences which never gives the wounds the opportunity to heal.

03 Not Showing Up for Your Spouse. So many things can happen in the course of a marriage as Dr. Bradford mentioned. As we experience the ups and downs of life, it’s important that our partners “show up,” in some of the most difficult experiences whether that’s losing a home, the death of a child, or a sick parent. Sadler advises the importance of being able to ask your partner “What is it that you need?” instead of making assumptions. She cites a major issue as the tendency we have to simply want to fix the problem. “Every situation doesn’t need to be fixed. Sometimes you just need to show up,” warns Sadler. Showing up includes being able to communicate that you may not know what you need at the time, but finding the opportunities to talk through these tough situations and be honest with your partner.

04 Forgetting the Friendship. Somehow the terms “husband” and “wife” add so much more pressure than we’ve experienced in our relationships prior to the marriage. Often times, without realizing it, we forget about the friendship that was formed in the dating process and get so far away from it after the nuptials. Sadler advises that we approach marriage with friendship at the forefront and learn to be able to communicate with our partners from a friend perspective without always being so easily offended.

05 Unspoken Expectations. This is definitely an area that seeps into our ability to communicate but is a very specific part of the puzzle that is often missed. Not only do we ignore an opportunity to communicate our expectations, but we also begin to act on those expectations not being met “We come from different backgrounds and expect different things and never communicate that to our partners. Women never let men know how crucial security is to us. We think men should know to provide, protect, etc., but it’s rarely discussed in detail. Men are being brought up in single parent households and have no examples of what it means to be that security,” says Sharon Sadler of SOS Marriage Network.

06 Lack of Flexibility “Even if a couple has done their due diligence and discussed and agreed on the big topics like finances and parenting styles, there needs to be room in the plans for things to change. A partner’s ideas about working outside of the home may change after a child enters the family, or health issues could arise that impact your sexual relationship,” says Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D. “I think the key to managing changes that were not expected is to remember that you and your partner are on the same team and should put your heads together to tackle the issue and not each other. If you find it difficult to do this on your own then scheduling an appointment with a couple’s therapist may be a great strategy to help you both get some clarity and perspective.”

07Familial or Societal PressureOften times our families have thoughts on who we should marry. Women tend to also be racing the clock when it comes to getting the husband and the family started so they are not marked with the scarlet letter of being “30 something and single.” This, Johnson believes can lead to making rash decisions in marriage that in turn can lead to divorce. Johnson addresses the pressure that we face as women when it comes to marriage. “At some point, people will understand the danger of living and loving for others to which they will want to leave the marriage. In that case, it may be the best decision for both parties involved. It’s never too late to find yourself and most of us need to find ourselves every few years.”

08 Lack of Self-Knowledge. “There’s a mix of people that never explored what they like or need and there are others that go with what their family thinks is good for them. These people date who looks good on paper for the family and for a societal image. Whether this is to fit in or stand out, depends on the individual and their life experiences,” Jaynay C. Johnson, MFT explains. “My advice to overcome this is to take your time getting to know and love yourself. Understand what you like and don’t like. Document how situations make you feel and if you are able to overcome them quickly or not. Talk your feelings out with your partner, friends or a therapist so you don’t internalize emotions. Finally, accept that you will change over time. What you like at 25 may not be what you like at 30 and that’s okay.”

09 Different backgrounds or views.

Couples often fail to anticipate their differences results from diverse cultural backgrounds, differing family experiences, etc.

During the honeymoon phase, many of these differences don’t necessarily rear their ugly heads, but as time goes, you have to determine how to handle certain situations like holidays, you have to discuss how to parent, or you need to make financial and budget decisions.

All of these things can heavily influence how you view circumstances, and if you do not community well, they will cause conflict.

This can also apply to differing views on money, sex, and other topics with a marriage. These differing viewpoints can lead to much conflict if we are not careful.

10. 50-50 relationship

For years, people have said that marriage is a 50-50 relationship. You do your part, and I’ll do mine.

Couples buy into this notion and each spouse honestly expects his or her spouse to meet them halfway. Unfortunately no one can be sure when a spouse has met them at the halfway point.

Even saying that marriage is 100-100 still tends to put a focus on performance suggesting that if you do your 1005, I’ll do my 100%

Regardless, this often results in unmet expectations which causes conflict which causes unmet expectations, and so the cycle continues.

11 Selfishness

30926088 – unhappy couple arguing on the couch at home in the living room

Society has basically taught us that mankind if “good.” That we are naturally going to chose the right things to do or say. That we are naturally going to put others needs above our own.

The reality is that we are all selfish and self-centered on some level. We often want what we want, when we want it.

Therefore, couples fail to anticipate their self-centered nature that demands its own way.

12 Trials

At some point, we will all be faced with some kind of trial or difficulty in life.

Couples fail to anticipate the impact of life’s trails. When the pain of trails coms into the marriage, instead of standing together through trials, couples tend to blame one another or thing something is wrong with their spouse.

These situations drive them apart to oppose each other instead of pulling them together to support each other.

13 False view of love

53057698 – portrait of unhappy young heterosexual couple in bedroom

Going into marriage, we often have a false view of what “real” love is all about.

Movies, TV, books…they all point to a romantic love that isn’t realistic, and we are often fooled into thinking that our relationships will unfold just as the couple in the movie.

This leads to problems with physical and emotional intimacy for both spouses.

We quickly feel “stuck” with an unloving person and become deceived into believing that the “next one” will be better. This is a “fantasy” love, not a “faith” love.

14 Lack of a Deep Relationship with Jesus

God created both you and your spouse with all your strengths, and yes, even your weaknesses. He knows you better than you know yourself.

More than 50% of highly happy couples agree with the statement, “God is at the center of our relationship.”

As a Believer, ultimately only Jesus can unlock the deepest dimensions of human intimacy and meet your every need, taking individuals and couples to their truest level of spiritual relationships.

Apart of Jesus, you are living a reduced level of intimacy in your marriage.

A Better Plan for Marriage

Without a better plan, it does not take long to understand why marriages fail. They are falling apart. The good news is that God has another type of relationship which married couples can experience – a relationships based on “faith love” instead of performance.

Find out what that supernatural relationship looks like in the next installment of this series.

What other reasons that marriages fail would you add to this list?


Written by Keys4Success


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