Why is Divorce So Common in Midlife?

Marriage can be a beautiful thing. The promise to be united with one person in a meaningful partnership for the rest of your life is the ultimate display of love between two individuals. Despite this being the case, it’s evident that divorce is an incredibly common occurrence. An estimated 40% – 50% of all first marriages end in divorce, and a higher rate of 60% – 65% of second marriages. The average age of divorce is between 40 and 50 years old. These staggering rates are hard to ignore and might be hard to stomach for some of us.

We have to ask ourselves why this is the case, both to understand and to potentially prevent it from happening to those of us who are married. There are a plethora of reasons for divorce, and these are largely dependent on personal factors in each individual relationship. There are, however, some common denominators that are seen in many cases of divorce.

One of the most commonly stated reasons is simply no longer being in love with your partner. Things such as infidelity, arguing, unrealistic expectations of one another, lack of equality and, in serious cases, abuse can all fall under this umbrella. Responsibility must be taken for an individuals’ wrongdoings within a marriage, but in the case of simply losing the feelings you once had for each other it can come down to biology. Research has shown that the nature of love can change over time, especially considering the fact that love is largely a neuro-chemical reaction. For this we cannot blame ourselves, no matter how difficult it may be to accept. In these cases couple’s counselling could be beneficial if that is an option that’s available to you.

Other reasons seem to include:

Marrying young – getting married at a particularly young age can increase the likelihood of divorce, especially in early years.

Financial issues – fiscal strain is a common point of contention among couples, be it high or low income.

Premarital pregnancy – rearing children prior to marriage can increase the likelihood of divorce later down the line.

Parents’ divorce – couples whose parents have divorced double their risk of their own marriage ending. The risk triples if both parties have divorced parents.

Having experience of any of the above does not mean that the dissolution of your marriage is inevitable, but it may be helpful to be cognizant of contributing factors to increase your awareness of potential issues.

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