Six Major Marriage Enders

It’s usually a lengthy and difficult process to end a marriage. That’s because most people don’t take it lightly when they promise to stay with someone forever. There has to be a really substantial problem to make them give up and declare the marriage is done.

Here are the six major things that I have seen end marriages:

1) Cheating

This is first on the list because it’s one of the most painful reasons people split up. The spouse who finds out his/her partner is cheating usually feels like he/she has been kicked in the gut and just had his/her heart ripped out. The feelings of betrayal, jealousy and humiliation are often  intense and unrelenting. Some people simply cannot or will not forgive and forget: cheating leads straight to divorce in these cases.

But, there are also lots of marriages in which one individual chronically cheats, or they both do. Often, one person is more into this type of lifestyle than the other. And the other eventually gets sick of it. Or, the cheater ultimately falls in love with one of the men/women and wants to be free to have a life with him/her.

Sometimes, a marriage has pretty much had it but neither person is quite ready to throw in the towel. Then one of them meets someone and it’s game over. In this case, cheating is really just a catalyst to end it.

2) Money

There are lots of money issues that can lead a couple to divorce. One person could be making most of the money, feel resentful over it and push the other to contribute more. The other might feel his/her nonmonetary contribution is more than enough. The two may disagree about whether or not they need a budget and what should be covered in it. An individual  could be very frugal and controlling; his/her partner may feel unfairly restricted. On the other hand a partner could be extremely lavish, which makes his/her spouse feel out of control and ungrounded.

Generally, money arguments make both people really angry and they just might dig their heels in over them. Over focus on finances can end up affecting every area of life; looking at the cost of the food they eat and the price tag on where they live. It’s very common for one spouse to feel as though the other loves money more than him/her.

It’s also possible that the partners watch how each person spends and they keep track. Sometimes they compete over who gets to make purchases and when. They might make accusations that are quite nasty, talking about greed, selfishness and meanness.

3) Sexual frequency and intensity

It’s really common for a couple to be exceptionally active sexually at the beginning of their relationship. Then, gradually the driving need for physical intimacy diminishes. One person may accept this reduction better than the other. It’s also possible that an individual never feels very inspired sexually in a relationship. He/she may love the other person but view sex as a necessary and undesirable obligation. That can leave the other person feeling rejected and confused.

It’s not unusual at all for a couple to have a phenomenon that they can’t understand or manage: one of them doesn’t want to be touched at all ever. If it’s a male and he’s been convinced to get a prescription for Viagra, he can’t make himself swallow the pills. The partner often feels outraged and scared by this type of development, which makes him/her push to find a way to have sex. That tends to just make the situation worse; sometimes much worse, leading the person who has shut down to hate him/her.

In most cases, the only answer to this sort of problem is lots of respect and a slow process of rebuilding to see if physical intimacy can develop. However, the individuals may not be OK with time and patience, feeling they’re giving permission for a platonic marriage. It’s also possible if not likely that one of them will meet someone else along the way. There are even cases in which the individual with low sexual desire suggests that the other should find someone. And that creates the potential for an emotional connection to develop with the new person.

4) Rage

Rage is different from anger in that it’s caused by intense anxiety, a high need for control and a deep fury. Common garden variety anger is more on the lines of hostility and indignation. Untended, rage has a cycle: it builds up, there’s an explosion and then remorse. This is very hard on a marriage.

Rage can cause possessiveness, assault, destruction of property and painful words. The partner is usually terribly upset and humiliated by this; he/she could also be terrified by it and hate it. Some spouses try to cope by just taking it, demanding that it has to stop or pressing charges.

The reasons they usually have for ending the marriage is that they’re sick and tired of it, they don’t want their kids exposed to it and they’ve been humiliated one too many times over it. In really bad cases, they may even fear for their lives.

5) Alcohol and Drugs

There are lots of people who can’t or won’t get through a day without copious amounts of some sort of substance. Often, they don’t appear to have any sort of problem; they drink at lunch, after work and over supper. But if you add up the amount of alcohol they take in over the course of a week, it’s staggering. The drug of choice may be something else, like pot, cocaine or prescription drugs.

Heavy users of alcohol and drugs are using substances to help them cope with something in life. It might be that they need to reduce their anxiety, find a way to stifle their anger, or loosen up to have a good time. But this often makes them difficult marital partners. For one thing, they’re busier coping than they are relating to their spouse. For another, the substance may be the most important thing in their lives. It could be very expensive and time consuming as well.

The spouse could also be using some sort of substance. But, typically one person in the couple will have a bigger problem than the other. And that’s who will get fed up with the lifestyle, the cost or the embarrassment. It may be that he/she has been begging his/her partner to quit for years without success. Ultimately he/she gets beyond frustrated and gives up.

6) Sexual Choices

In this, I’m including a desire for threesomes, an open marriage, polyamory or hookers that is not shared by both spouses. Also, one partner could be in the process of coming out as gay, bisexual or straight. As a result, he/she may want to explore a new relationship.

The thing about sexual choices and preferences is that they come from deep within a person. Asking someone to change his/her mind about the sexual expression he/she wants is usually a fruitless endeavour. Sometimes one spouse will ask the other to stifle or ignore his/her desires which is a very heavy-duty request. That can easily lead to anger, resentment and lying.

Sexual differences between partners can quickly lead to a lot of grief because they produce a feeling of being disconnected as a couple. Some people take the loss of intimacy better than others. There are those who experience it as a great loss, almost like a death.

At the end of the day, it’s important to realize that making a marriage work and keeping it going forever is a very tall order. Marriage is a complicated and difficult relationship that has all sorts of pressures on it from outside it and from within it. Falling prey to one of the big six reasons people split up isn’t a failure. It’s simply a reality that we as people can’t control all the elements in life. Things just go sideways sometimes.


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