What Causes Divorce?

Why do couples that once married out of love for one another divorce? Although arguments, finances and in-laws are often cited as reasons, the real cause is more likely to be.

  • Unrealistic expectations: Expecting your spouse to supply the kind of unconditional love and support you wanted from your parents is unrealistic and leads to disappointment.
  • Miscommunication: Differing communication styles are often at the root of marital problems: he shows his feelings with actions, she speaks her feelings; he says things once, she repeats things for emphasis.
  • Fighting dirty: Couples who attack each other rather than the issue when they fight, often divorce bitterly due to “irreconcilable differences.”
  • Romantic illusions: Ignoring the faults of a potential mate leads us to marry our own romantic creation rather than a real person.
  • Parental marriage patterns: Although we may want a very different marriage than our parents had, we often unconsciously follow their example and choose a mate with whom we can duplicate their relationship.
  • Power struggles: Adolescent fights with parents for independence and control are often repeated in marriage — usually with the same result.
  • Lack of other option: Having tried everything else to improve their marriage, unhappy couples may erroneously conclude that divorce is the only option left.

Marriage Counseling or Divorce Therapy?

Most couples wait too long to seek help with their marital problems. Unfortunately, they think of therapy as a last-ditch effort to save their marriage rather than as first-aid, and wait until their problems are almost unbearable before they seek professional help. The longer a couple has spent building a wall between them, the harder it is to tear down; the earlier they come for counseling, the more effective it can be.

The first step in counseling is often to help couples decide whether they want marriage counseling or divorce therapy.

Marraige Counseling

The goal of marriage counseling is to help them resolve their problems by developing better communication and relationship skills to strengthen the marriage.

Marriage counseling can…

  • Determine the real source of your problems.  Your spouse , who seems to be causing your bad feelings, may be only an actor in the drama of your life, playing a part scripted by childhood interactions.  Although your hurt or anger is now focused on your spouse, the intensity of your feelings comes from painful childhood experiences.
  • Clarify your values, goals, and priorities, and help you understand and respect your partner’s as well.
  • Explore alternatives to divorce, such as temporary separation, negotiation of what’s acceptable in the relationship and compromise on major points of conflict.
  • Help you understand the part each of you plays in the marital difficulty.  It’s natural to focus on your partner’s feelings when there are problems, but if the marriage is to improve, you must also admit your own role in the conflict.

Divorce Therapy

The goal of divorce therapy is to help couples disengage from the marriage with minimal pain to themselves and their children.

Divorce therapy can…

  • help you accept and adjust to the shock of an unwanted divorce if you didn’t initiate it.
  • help you survive emotionally.  Divorce can be an emotional roller-coaster; your moods may swing rapidly between excitement about the new world that divorce brings, and fear of the same thing! It’s natural to wish you could eliminate the “down” times altogether, but post-divorce depression is like a fever when you’re sick – it’s to be expected as a normal part of the emotional healing process.
  • help parents put aside their animosity toward one another to maintain a good co-parenting relationship.  Divorce therapy aims to help clients raise their children without emotional and legal guerilla warfare in which the children become weapons.

Divorce therapy cannot…

  • persuade a spouse decided on divorce to return to the marriage;
  • force couples to give up long-held resentments if they don’t really want to; or
  • side with one partner in punishing the other.

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