While this blog may be titled, “Why Did My Wife Leave?” in response to the growing number of women filing for divorce, it’s important to recognize that it could have just as easily been titled, “Why Did My Husband Leave?” The reasons listed in this blog apply to both men and women, and any number of these could be a reason that a man or woman decided to file for divorce. It’s also important to remember that if your spouse filed for divorce, only they can tell you why they’ve decided to leave—and even then you may not get an accurate answer: they may not truly know themselves, or they may not want to be honest about it.
The Marriage Was Neglected by One or Both Parties
A lot of marriages that end in divorce go through a long period of neglect that crept up on the couple suddenly. Most people don’t intentionally neglect their marriages; it usually happens by accident. It’s not uncommon for people to have other priorities come up that cause them to put their marriage on the back-burner for a little while. Normally, these priorities are high-priority things instead of frivolous pursuits. Children, work, school, religious obligations, and familial obligations can all cause a person to put less energy into their marriage and more energy into whatever has come up. Maybe you’re working long hours and telling yourself, “it’s just for a little while, ” or maybe you’re caring for a seriously ill family member and telling yourself, “things will go back to normal once she’s cured.” Problems occur when people fall into the habit of not intentionally setting aside time to work on their marriage. A marriage needs constant maintenance.
There Was a Breakdown in Communication
There are things that spouses can do to each other that prevents transparency. Generally, defensiveness can make a person reticent when it comes to revealing how they feel. If one party always gets defensive whenever their spouse calmly brings up a complaint, then it’s going to discourage open communication. And this is how issues pile up. Constantly dismissing your spouse’s feelings as “irrational” or “overly emotional” can also make a person reluctant to come forward any time something is bothering them. If a person already knows that bringing up issues is pointless because their spouse will just dismiss them or get defensive, that person will inevitably stop bringing up problems.
Problems with Expectations
Problems with communication can eventually lead to problems with expectations. If one spouse is constantly dismissing the other spouse, or getting defensive, it may make the spouse on the receiving end of such behavior apprehensive about communicating expectations. When expectations go uncommunicated, they could also go unmet—after all, how can someone know what you expect if your expectations aren’t communicated? Expectations can also be unrealistic. For example, if you expect your partner to effortlessly cook, clean, and care for the children while maintaining a full-time job, you might be in for a surprise. Another common unrealistic expectations is, “S/he will change once we’re married.” Though anyone can change their ways at anytime, it’s not necessarily wise to count on them changing just because you got married or had children.
Unwillingness to Compromise
When you get married, you’re kind of giving up your right to insist upon having your way all the time. Of course there are important things that you should be insistant upon—such as the decision to have children, your right to practice your religous faith, etc—but those are usually figured out during the dating period. But when it comes to smaller things, compromising at some point may be necessary. For example, if your spouse is a bit of a mess, is it really so bad to clean up after them every now and then, especially if they’ve made changes to be more tidy to fit your standards? A lot of people become unhappy because they insist upon their happiness far too often. When you’re married to someone, you’re going to have to let the small things things go—especially when your spouse is meeting you halfway.
Issues Involving Mental Health
Certain mental health issues can make it difficult for couples to work through issues in a marriage. Those who are suffering from severe depression may struggle to give their marriage the attention it needs to thrive. Personality disorders can also complicate things. If you’re married to someone who has borderline personality disorder, for instance, the way you deal with conflict may be different than it would be had you married someone who doesn’t have BPD. Most people don’t have in-depth knowledge and experience managing conflict with someone who has a specific personality disorder. If the personality disorder goes undiagnosed—and they frequently do—the couple may not get help with effective conflict resolution until it’s far too late.