As we enter the New Year, this is a time for resolutions. It is also a time when people decide to begin the New Year fresh by dumping a spouse. Over my many years specializing in family law, I have seen people marry and divorce for every possible logical and illogical reason. Here are some of my thoughts as to why your marriage may fail in 2011:
11. It's the economy, stupid. Or is it? Economic problems cause tremendous stress in a marriage. Losing a job. Having an unexpected reduction in income. Having your home foreclosed. A business failing. The plummeting home equity, and unending delinquency notices, create seemingly insurmountable personal insecurities that often can lead to divorce.
10. Alcohol problems. Alcoholism and abuse of alcohol are major issues leading to divorce. Couples in dysfunctional marriages where alcohol plays a role may stay together for many years until one partner seeks help, the dynamics change, and divorce follows. That one drink too many on New Year's Eve may be the triggering event.
9. People growing apart. I have seen people in long-term marriages create a solid marital foundation, build careers, raise children, and then wonder--what do "we" do now - once the children have left the nest. A question often pondered is, "do "I" want to spend the rest of "my" life with this man/woman? Do we share enough common interests? Will there be a bond to hold us together once we reach retirement?" These questions, and sometimes brutally honest answers, often lead to divorce. Is it your New Year's resolution to get rid of your spouse?
8. Gambling issues. I have seen many people lose their jobs, marriages, homes and professions, due to addiction to gambling. Casinos in the Detroit Metropolitan area where I practice have been the direct cause of many marital breakups, as has gambling on line, race tracks, bingo, and yes, even addiction to scratch-offs.
7. Drugs. I have seen many people addicted to heroin, marijuana, and cocaine. What begins as social entertainment, inevitably destroys the most loving and prosperous of marriages, and leads to divorce. Addiction to antidepressants, Vicodin, and other prescription drugs, have led to the breakdown of many, many marriages, by drastically altering personalities and destroying individual integrity and character.
6. Addiction to the internet. People who spend many hours shopping online, e-mailing, playing games, or just general obsessive internet use, to the exclusion of valuable family interaction, create a permanent disconnect that cannot be repaired, and divorce follows.
5. Addiction to pornography. I see pornography addiction in many divorce cases. Before the internet, strip clubs, videos and DVDs were the catalyst to this addiction. Now there are more and more people who spend countless hours viewing pornography online, buying into a fantasy, and even connecting with total strangers on- and off-line, which inevitably leads to the next issue.
4. Infidelity. Have all of my clients been unfaithful? Far from it. But I have seen it in many cases. Some spouses will forgive an affair, especially if marriage counseling is an investment they each commit to wholeheartedly. A key issue is, can that affair be forgiven? Can spouses overcome the pain, move forward to new dreams, and rebuild a lasting future? Can trust be rekindled, and nurtured back to healthy levels? I believe that counseling is critical in the event of infidelity. The key question, especially for an isolated transgression, is "was the marriage bad and someone strayed, or did someone stray without provocation or justification." As an attorney, I do not make moral judgments, but I see infidelity as a major cause of divorce.
3. Many people get married for the wrong reasons. They are lonely. They get married on impulse. I have had many cases where two people will take a simple trip together, especially to Las Vegas, and come home married to each other. The old saying that fools rush in where wise men fear to tread, is very true, especially with regard to marriage. Look before you leap. Don't jump into a marriage and find out that you have made a huge mistake. Go slowly, and wisely, in the pursuit of any relationship.
2. Abuse. This can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, and verbal abuse. Abusive behavior is a major reason for divorce.
1. A total inability to communicate. In marriage, people communicate on many different levels. If you cannot communicate well, seek a marriage counselor. Try to salvage a marriage, because divorce should be the last resort. When two people are not communicating effectively, especially if there are problems at the beginning of a marriage, perhaps they should not have gotten married at all.
I am sure that you can offer many more reasons why marriages end, but these are some of the key reasons that I have seen over the years. As we begin 2011, will your marriage fail, or can you take steps to strengthen it?
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