Here are the top three reasons couples get divorced, according to experts.
“Repair” is a buzzword in divorce research, but an important one. A couple who can “repair” after a disagreement actively works to make things better. This, according to famed relationship researcher Dr. John Gottman, is a key to successful marriage.
The inability to repair after arguments, on the other hand, is a common thread in divorce. “While couples may all be fighting about different things, their inability to repair after those arguments leaves them feeling distant and unheard,” licensed psychotherapist and owner of The Collaborative Counseling Center, Whitney Hawkins, LMFT, tells Bustle. If a couple can’t overcome this issue, then they may not be able to last over the years.
Growing apart is a very vague concept, but this commonly-cited cause of divorce can often be boiled down to two partners who can no longer, or no longer want to, invest in one another as the years go by.
One major study found “growing apart” as the most commonly-cited cause of divorce among couples. “If a couple doesn’t nurture the relationship, then it will stagnate, and the partners will grow apart,” Bennett says. “This shows that in many cases divorce isn’t about a particular ‘last straw’ incident or bad behavior, but simply the relationship fizzles.” Predicting things fizzling may be difficult, but it is definitely still worth being aware of as an issue many couples face.
Emotional flooding is another relationship problem that Dr. John Gottman pinpointed in his research as a very serious issue that can often lead to divorce.
“Emotional flooding often happens when partners are in a disagreement or talking about something particularly charged,” Hawkins says. “Psychologist John Gottman explains that emotional hijacking is our nervous system in overdrive. Something happens during your interaction with your partner that sets off your internal threat-detection system.” This incredibly physical response can be stopped in its tracks, but can become a chronic issue in a relationship when every disagreement ends with this sort of emotional response. Many couples who get divorced may not have been able to get past the moment of emotional flooding during conflict.
While no two divorced couples share the exact same story, there are certain variables that experts have noticed tend to lead to the demise of a relationship more than others. Communication issues such as emotional flooding and inability to repair after arguments, plus more intangible issues like individuals simply growing apart, are common threads in many divorces.
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