What reasons do divorcees offer for leaving?

A decision to divorce is seldom uncomplicated, and often involves numerous factors and criteria. The Relationships in America survey presented respondents with 17 distinct reasons commonly cited for pursuing divorce (plus a catch-all “other reason” category). Sixty-six (66) percent of those divorcees who wanted the divorce as much as or more than their spouse selected more than one of those 17 reasons for pursuing the divorce, while one in four offered five or more reasons. The most-cited reasons for wanting a divorce were, by order of frequency:

Moreover, some popular claims about causes of divorce exhibited comparatively fewer responses than might have been anticipated, including pornography use (5 percent), and persistent religious or cultural differences (5 percent). This is not to say that pornography usage was not a factor in creating other relationship issues, but rather that despite emerging news stories to the contrary59, few divorcees identified pornography as the source of their relationship troubles. And the 17 reasons offered captured most respondents: only nine percent also checked “some other reason.”

Men and women differ notably in their reasons for wanting a divorce. Women are far more likely to cite emotional abuse (37 vs. 13 percent), physical abuse (21 vs. 8 percent), their spouse’s pornography usage (7 vs. 1 percent), and alcohol or drug problems (29 vs. 14 percent). Men are slightly more likely than women to cite marrying too young (24 vs. 18 percent). Overall, women cited more reasons than men.

The top five reasons listed by men were:

And the top five reasons offered by women were:


58 28 percent of people listed their spouse’s romantic or sexual relationship with someone else as the reason while 11 percent listed their own relationship and 3 percent listed both their own and their spouse’s extramarital relationship as reasons for their divorce totaling in whole 37 percent of people who listed either their own or their spouse’s extramarital relationship as a reason.

59National Review: Getting Serious on Pornography.” National Public Radio. March 31, 2010. Retrieved August 26, 2014.

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