I’ve performed a fair number of weddings over the years and witnessed a fair number of divorces, too. Weddings are certainly more pleasant to observe than a divorce. Observing people has led me to develop some conclusions about divorce and its causes. How do some couples get from “I do” to “I won’t”? I believe you can broadly categorize the reason for divorce in one of three categories or in a combined blend.
1. Discommunication is the absence of communication. Communication is essential for a relationship to work, grow, and thrive. It is a key component in authentic intimacy. Couples should communicate about needs, feelings, and dreams – the deeper things of self. If you’re not careful, you’ll wake up one morning as strangers. Often couples don’t demonstrate effective communication skills. Communication is more about listening than being heard at times. Understanding how one communicates best is indispensable in relational development.
2. Selfishness is the valuing of self above the relationship. Marriage is a partnership; it is the two becoming one. You can’t put selfish desires before the needs of the relationship. You see this most often when people are unwilling to “change” for the sake of relational longevity. You can’t enter into a relationship or sustain a relationship without both parties giving and in essence changing to become one. Adultery is an example of selfishness. One party disregards the value of the relationship by placing a higher value on one’s selfish and secretive desire. At the heart of selfishness is an unwillingness to make godly change for the sake of the relationship.
3. Inappropriate expectations can put a noose around marital bliss. When a spouse has one set of expectations which is different than the other’s expectations, you can count on trouble. Sometimes the expectations are valid and have not been communicated. Other times they are completely inappropriate for a relationship and should actually be deemed unrealistic and unachievable. Expectations should be discussed and negotiated. When a couple comes from diverse familial backgrounds, marriage and relational expectations must be discussed at length and should be re-addressed on a periodic basis.
I’m unaware of any divorce scenario that doesn’t fall into one of these three categories. While you might observe this as oversimplification, sometimes a broad brush stoke is best in teaching for understanding.