Why Do Marriages Fail?

Divorce is one big finger-pointing affair. At least that's what tabloid coverage of celebrity divorces would lead you to believe. However, unfounded allegations and messy back-and-forth is best left to the actors. Canada has a no-fault divorce system, which aims to be discrete and respectful. No-fault means a spouse's wrong-doings are treated as not relevant to divorce proceedings. Your personal issues will not be aired out in court. 

Ultimately, all that is required in order to establish grounds for divorce is to demonstrate a breakdown of marriage occurred. This can easily be done without a lawyer because it is a matter of conforming to a definition set out in the Canadian Divorce Act. 

Legal Definition of Breakdown of Marriage

Establishing grounds for divorce involves stating that one of the below causes stipulated in the Divorce Act are applicable:

  • (a) the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least one year immediately preceding the determination of the divorce proceeding and were living separate and apart at the commencement of the proceeding;

  • (b) the spouse against whom the divorce proceeding is brought has, since celebration of the marriage,

    • (i) committed adultery, or

    • (ii) treated the other spouse with physical or mental cruelty of such a kind as to render intolerable the continued cohabitation of the spouses.

Couple Fighting

Top Reasons Why Marriages Fail

A no-fault divorce may seem unfair to you if you feel your spouse was to blame for the demise of your marriage. However, you know first-hand how complex the decision to end a marriage can be. Once your personal decision has been made, the court will handle the legal matters of support payments, child custody and division of family property. Save for adultery or abuse, the top reasons why marriages fail nearly all boil down to issues where blame is not so easily placed. Dysfunctional dynamics in marriages develop, escalate and become engrained over time. 

Below are the most common reasons why marriages fail:  

  1. Money Troubles: According to a 2014 poll by the Bank of Montreal, 68% of respondents listed fighting over money as a top reason for divorce. Incompatible spending habits, gambling issues, unemployment, credit card debt and hiding money between partners can result in heated arguments. Finances can be a big point of contention in a marriage and also become a major point of conflict in divorce proceedings.

  2. Communication Problems: Toxic patterns in communication can quickly bring about marital trouble. Avoiding tough conversations, such as discussing your wants and needs with your partner results in unmet expectations for both parties. Disagreements present the chance for your relationship to grow, but poor communication or avoidance will squander this opportunity and breed resentment instead.

  3. Personal Differences: Perhaps you got married too soon and realize your spouse’s personality or worldview is incompatible with yours. This is also an issue that can arise after years of growing apart or losing touch with your spouse. Cultural and religious differences may prove to be barriers to mutual understanding. Ultimately, if one spouse or the other is not willing to compromise, this can be a dealbreaker.

  4. Lack of Trust: Trust must be fostered by both spouses through communication, understanding and openness. Not being able to trust your partner can be quite damaging to a relationship. Even if a spouse’s dishonesty or unfaithfulness is just perceived and not real, the marriage will likely suffer. What one partner perceives as shadiness and secrecy may simply be how their spouse expresses their need for personal space and privacy. Respecting those needs are also integral for establishing trust. 

  5. Co-dependency Issues: You should not feel constrained and limited by your marriage but rather able to pursue your own goals and better yourself. It can be very difficult to unwind roles and behaviours that have developed over the course of your relationship. A co-dependent person will place their partner’s needs before their own which can result in a loss of personal identity. When a relationship is one-sided it is inherently dysfunctional. 

  6. Lack of Physical Affection: When physical affection is no longer present in your relationship it signals a loss of intimacy. Affection can simply be about reassurance and fostering a sense of belonging. Drives, desires and schedules change over time and it does not mean that your connection is lost forever. However, resentment may grow between spouses if you are not honest with one another about why physical affection has taken a backseat in your relationship.

Putting Marital Problems Aside

If you and your spouse have major disagreements and you are therefore contesting their application for divorce, a lawyer would be highly recommended.  Not only do contested divorces last over 6 months longer than an uncontested divorce, they cost nearly 10 times as much according to a 2011 survey of Canadian divorce lawyers. However, eighty percent of divorces in Canada are uncontested, and legal representation is only one of many options. Online tools such as Thistoo can help you understand the divorce process, as well as the fairness of the requests your spouse has made in their divorce application.