Researchers recently polled 1,500 Americans about marriage and divorce. They were particularly interested in the reasons couples split up. In Illinois and elsewhere, financial troubles have long been accepted as the number one cause of friction in a marriage and, so, the number one reason for a couple to separate or divorce.
Not so, according to the respondents. The survey found that physical and verbal abuse were at the top of the list -- 36 percent of all people interviewed agreed. The less surprising finding was that more women -- almost half -- cited abuse as the primary reason they left.
The list does include financial stress. Less than a quarter of all respondents, just 23 percent, cited this as the cause of their split. If we are to believe these results, we will have to discard our common misconceptions.
Men said sexual issues were the main reason about twice as often as women (22 percent versus 11 percent).
When children are the source of contention, a couple may not overcome their differences. Disagreements about how children are raised caused 13 percent of respondents' marriages to fail. The decision to have children at all was less common -- just 6 percent of respondents agreed.
Religion, of course, is often part of disagreements about children. Just 4 percent of those surveyed said religion was the main reason for their divorce, though. Perhaps religion is simply subtext to other points of conflict.
We have discussed before that couples can grow apart over time; some fall victim to the "empty-nest syndrome." For 12 percent of respondents, boredom was their main reason for leaving.
It's the abuse statistic, though, that needs further explanation. We'll get into that in our next post.
Source: Kentucky.com, "What makes people decide to leave? Survey reports the reasons we divorce," Michele Kimball , Sept. 22, 2011