Why do couples get divorced?

Some marriages survive after much turbulence and others seem to break up out of the blue. Why do some folks get divorced and others make it work? Is there some essential difference between the relationships of couples who stay together vs. those who call it quits? And what can we do to strengthen our own marriage?

These questions have complex answers since multiple factors determine the longevity of a relationship. John Gottman has studied couples for over 25 years. His research and that of others busts a lot of myths about couple conflict and divorce. For example, couples who have the most arguments are not necessarily the ones who get divorced. This research also offers interesting suggestions on, for example, how best to begin to air disagreements.

The following link is a very interesting compilation of reasons that lead to a divorce.


The way in which our parents’ marriages affect us is also documented in the research. One thing for sure is true: The decision to divorce is not made overnight, as the research below shows. On the contrary, conflicts and negative patterns build up for years. All the more reason to take stock of our relationship and work on changes!