6 Ways Marriage Problems Turn Into Reasons For Divorce (Plus How To Prevent This From Happening)

When couples get married, they dream about having happy and successful marriages. But the reality is that all couples have marriage problems. Marriage problems do not have to create a disconnect and disharmony; the key is for the couple to find solutions and win-win resolutions to issues. 

Prevent These 6 Marriage Problems To Save You From Divorce:

1. Communication

As a couples therapist, the number one issue that couples call me about is communication issues. I hear statements like “I don’t know how to talk to my partner so they will listen” or “We have marriage problems; we don’t talk to each other anymore.” 

Situations like this always have a root somewhere.  Sometimes they are rooted in certain unproductive phrases – there are conversation stoppers in relationships, such as “you always do that,” “you never do that,” “you don’t care about me,” “you only care about yourself,” “I don’t love you anymore,” or “I don’t know if I love you anymore.”

Couples struggle because communication is key for any and all healthy and satisfying relationships. 

You can prevent this marriage problem turning into a divorce by slowing down and listening. You may think that sounds so simple, but what most people call listening is always oriented towards responding or fixing the problem. Instead, listen to validate and actually hear your partner’s concerns, fears and worries. Next time, your partner starts talking to you about something bothering them, be quiet, listen and empathize with their pain and hurt. 

2. Intimacy/Sex

When the topic of intimacy is addressed many couples become uncomfortable and do not want to discuss it. But at the same time, they may feel very disconnected outside and inside the bedroom. Couples can benefit from discussing this topic and understand what their needs, wants and dreams are. Hiding from the issue will not make it disappear and will make you feel more alone and alienated from your partner.

Not having sex doesn’t mean that you can’t be intimate and not being intimate doesn’t mean that you can’t have sex. 

If you are unsure what I am referring to, then understanding the differences between intimacy and sex are very important to clarify. Intimacy is a connection a couple has on a physical and emotional level whereas sex is the physical act of intercourse. 

A challenge for many couples is when they aren’t discussing the lack of intimacy and sex in their relationship. There are many reasons that couples aren’t having sex, such as body insecurity, stress, medical issues and illnesses and smartphones distracting the couple from connecting

Many couples blame their divorce on problems in the bedroom, but usually intimacy issues only become problems when they are not discussed and addressed together. These topics can be difficult to discuss, and you or your partner might have a sensitivity about your body or your performance, so you might need to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and think, “If my partner was telling me “X” (whatever the issue is) how would I want them to say it to me?”

Sometimes couples may need to contact a couples therapist or a sex therapist to help them address this issue. 

3. Parenting

Frequently, couples do not talk about how they will parent their children and just find themselves repeating history and parenting exactly how their parents parented them. Inherited parenting styles are a natural default, but they can often clash from family to family, creating rifts between couples who have fallen back on them and find themselves contradicting each other.  This is an especially significant problem in relationships because parenting is such a big part of parents’ lives, so not talking about parenting leads to many fights because the couple did not make any agreements with each other about typical situations that they will likely encounter.

Discuss these questions to find out if you have different approaches and discipline styles:

  • When your child is crying at night, how will you handle it? Does it depend on their age? If so, discuss typical ages this might occur, such as infancy or three years old.
  • When your child breaks something because they were touching it, how will you respond? 
  • Are snacks and junk food okay? If so, how much?
  • Do kids do chores? Do they get paid for doing their chores?
  • When do your children have to complete their homework? Will you check if it’s done? 
  • Will you allow your child to date? If so, when can they start to date?
  • Will you set a curfew for your teenager? If so, if they break the curfew, how will you handle it?
  • Will you allow your teenager to drink in your home with supervision? If you find out your teenager is hiding or sneaking alcohol how will you handle it?

The most important questions are, will you be a team and have each other’s backs in front of the kids or can your children divide you and make you fight about parenting issues?

The possible conflicts around parenting are countless, but the more prepared you are as a couple to respond, the easier it will be for you as a couple to weather the parenting struggles. 

4. Kids

You love your kids, but sometimes they can drive you nuts. They know where your buttons are and they know how to push them. You wonder if they sit up at night thinking of ways to make you upset, hurt and angry. 

We were all kids at one time, and it was really difficult to grow up. This generation has everything at their fingertips. Kids know how to use their phones better than their parents by eight years old. 

Another challenge for couples is when they hear their kids say,” Mom and dad are fighting again.”  In most homes, the walls are not thick enough (though sometimes we think they are) to prevent your kids from hearing you fighting. Fighting happens, but how you manage your arguments is going to be key to how your children are impacted by your problems in marriage. 

When the kids hear you fighting, they may wonder if you are getting divorced, and you too may sometimes wonder if you will divorce. When you are fighting and not resolving issues, this is a sign to get professional help ASAP. 

Unresolved issues are exhausting and taxing, and many couples, and sometimes you individually, might not see any way out of your differences.  They may feel hopeless. However, it may not be hopeless, but without learning tools and skills to navigate these fights, they will only get worse and more frequent. 

5. Money

Money can help you pay your bills and allow you to buy things you want, but money can destroy marriages too. Most people have a lot of feelings about money and how it should be saved, spent and used. 

Unfortunately, many couples do not discuss the topic of money until after they get married – which is too late. 

Couples need to and should discuss their views, beliefs and opinions about money. If you are already married, then you need to find a quiet and relaxed time to discuss this matter. This issue will not go away, but usually gets worse over time if not discussed. 

Many couples will hide what they spent, not wanting their partner to know what they bought. For example, many people will not tell their partner that they go to Starbucks, out to lunch, Dunkin Donuts and 7-11 daily because they are embarrassed or fearful that their partner will judge and criticize this decision. Having agreements around how much you spend and save will decrease your arguments.  

In order not to have money issues ruin your relationship, decide to work on one money issue at a time. For example, you can find a quiet time to discuss your beliefs and thoughts about saving. See if you can come up with a win-win solution for one part of saving or one topic. If you suggest an idea and your partner doesn’t agree, ask your partner to suggest a possibility and continue taking turns until you find a middle ground. When couples discover that they can have success addressing one part of the problem, then they will be more confident to address a second and third issue. 

6. Boundaries

Most people usually have different ideas about how to set boundaries and sometimes are confused about the needs and reasons for boundaries. Think about boundaries using this analogy: in your home, you lock the doors and windows and do not allow things into your home that you do not want there. Boundaries are like locks; you can open and close the doors and windows, but you decide and make that choice.  

Healthy boundaries in a relationship can prevent affairs, which may lead to divorce. 

As a couple, decide and agree to the marital boundaries to provide safety and security in your relationship. 

Trust is built on honesty and transparency, so lead with openness. 

These 6 common marriage problems can hinder your relationship if you allow them. You can create an environment in your marriage in which you discover ways to work together to talk about and communicate about these problems before they start damaging it. 

Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing:

What Causes Resentment In A Marriage (Plus How You Can Heal Resentment In Yours)

How To Discuss Relationship Problems Without Fighting

How To Communicate With A Man That Won’t Communicate

Why Do We Keep Having The Same Arguments?

ADHD & Relationships


Lisa Rabinowitz

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a certified Gottman therapist working with couples in the US and internationally. Lisa has worked for many years with couples who have both diagnosed and undiagnosed ADHD. Her certifications and experience uniquely qualify her to support couples with relationship challenges that often feel insurmountable. Please reach out for a free 20-minute consultation with Lisa today.

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