4 Major Myths About What Causes Divorce

Here Are Some Of The Most Commonly Held Beliefs About What Ends Marriages

Splitting wedding cake
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There are a lot of "reasons" people cite for the demise of their marriage. There is also quite a bit of good research available that tells us what really causes divorce. With the divorce rate still embarrassingly high, it is important to take a look at what kinds of information people believe that may not actually be true about what sets divorce in motion. 

Here are three common myths about what causes divorce:

Affairs Are The Cause of Most Divorces

Believing that infidelity causes a marriage to end is probably the most common false belief about what precipitates divorce. Complaints of infidelity are what has a couple calling the therapy office in many instances, but it is imperative to look at the underlying issues that led to the affair. The most common reasons given by those divorcing as to the causes are, "gradually growing apart," "not feeling close" or "feeling unloved or unappreciated." Another issue cited is severe conflict or fighting. Arguments and conflict within the relationship leads one to conclude that people turn "outside the marriage" to seek what they are missing in the marriage. It rarely seems to be strictly about sex in and of itself. It more readily appears that there is a slow, gradual cascade into divorce. The loneliness and disconnections make people vulnerable to relationships outside the marriage. 

Only Women Are Capable Of Monogamy

There is much information on-line and in books, even espoused by researchers, which have done quite a bit of damage in regards to monogamy. There is no actual scientific proof that men do not value monogamy or that they must philander or "spread their seed." There seems to be a cultural push for women to simply accept this erroneous information as if this is male biology. There is much more solid research out there that shows that men benefit from being married possibly even more than even women do. At times, marriage provides the only significant close and supportive relationship that they have. 

Gender Differences Cause Divorce

How do gender differences explain that every heterosexual couple calling it quits or staying married has male and female counterparts? It does not make sense that gender has a big effect in and of itself. There is always an interaction between the man and woman who is divorcing. So, gender would have to interact with something else, such as conflict or disconnection. 

Poor Communication Causes Divorce

Distressed people may communicate quite clearly what they feel and mean. There is no way to teach people never to disagree or argue as all couples disagree and argue at some time. What is most salient to focus on is how they are handling emotions and what they do afterward to make up. Both men and women can engage in negative processes during the argument. For example, refusing to talk or starting a conversation in a harsh and critical way. It is common to be taught communication skills from a book or therapy sessions, but still have it all have it go to pot during an argument. For example, using "active listening " or "I statements" can be forgotten in the emotional upheaval of conflict.  

Believing any of these myths is destructive to the institution of marriage. These myths can lead couples down the wrong path, or worse, convince them that their relationship is hopeless. Contradictory information floating around from unreliable sources adds to the problem. There is often hope to fix the marriage, and the earlier the couple addresses their issues, the better the outcome. 

Source: Gottman, J. (1999). The marriage clinic: A scientifically based marital therapy. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

PURCHASE ON AMAZON: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage or for professionals, The Marriage Clinic all by Dr. John Gottman