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Why do so many marriages fail? It’s even worse than we think

Some estimates indicate that 50% of people who get married end up in divorce court. The statistics for second marriages are even worse. As if those figures aren’t bad enough, add them to the fact that having a truly satisfying marriage seems to be increasingly “out of the ordinary.” Of the approximately 50% of marriages that do not end in divorce, we could speculate that a large percentage of them may not end in formal divorce, but in what can be called “emotional divorce.” In other words, people stay married not because they like being married, but for a variety of other reasons. Oftentimes people stay married because they don’t want to leave their children, feel financially trapped, or are afraid to be on their own.

So how many of the remaining marriages are all that successful? Unfortunately, marital dissatisfaction is an increasing reality and it must be addressed head on if we want to improve our relationships. We can only deal with a problem once we have acknowledged it.

Why is it so hard to have a satisfying marriage?

The reason so few people enjoy satisfying relationships is that they often get married for the wrong reasons . People marry for a variety of reasons, such as: pressure from family and society, passion, wanting “to get started with their lives,” sexuality or romance. In reality, these factors that cause individuals to marry are not related to the factors that comprise a rewarding marriage.

Research in the field of “marriage” has found that levels of satisfaction in marriages are dependant on realistic expectations, the ability to resolve conflict, strong relationships with family and friends and the strength of religious orientation. In addition to these factors, marital satisfaction significantly increases when partners are made to feel valuable, have the to ability to deal with money issues and other problems, and experience supportive relationships with extended family (i.e. families of origin & in-laws).

Below are two lists: “Reasons for Getting Married” and “Reasons for Marital Satisfaction.” To gain some understanding of why marriages don’t work, compare these two lists.

Reasons for Getting Married Reasons for Marital Satisfaction
1. Societal and family pressure 1. Realistic level of expectations
2. Passion 2. Ability to resolve conflict
3. To get started with their lives 3. Strong supportive relationships with family & friends
4. Sexuality 4. Agreement on spending of money
5. Romance 5. Being made to feel valuable in day to day exchanges

After reviewing the two lists and recognizing the level of “non-agreement,” you can draw your own conclusions; the odds are against us. Our experience and awareness is supported by the research, which concludes that couples struggle with many issues that have the potential to damage their relationships. When all is said and done, for many people, marriage is not a happy place.

This awareness takes us to an important question and the next section, “What does it take to enjoy a good marriage?” That section will be followed by an article dealing with the issue of what you can do to enrich your marriage. Although this introductory material is pretty grim, I want to emphasize that the rest of YourMarriage.com is geared to positively dealing with this difficult reality.

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