Divorce: Why 'irretrievably broken' is a good phrase

You do not choose to end your marriage because everything in your relationship is perfect. You choose to get a divorce because something between you and your spouse is not working. Something has caused one or both of you to make the decision to separate, to no longer share life together as husband and wife.

It is no surprise that in discussions about divorce, the word "fault" is often used. "My spouse cheated" or "My spouse has a gambling or substance abuse problem" can certainly cause tension in a marriage. Is the reason for divorce always so easy to spot, or do most marriages end for reasons much subtler than that?

In a survey of relationship experts, infidelity was not the number one reason people get divorced today. In fact, it did not even make the list of "10 Most Common Reasons People Get Divorced." So what were some of the top reasons?

  • Saying "I Do" when you really don't. Love is not always blind. You might see red flags in your relationship but go through with it anyways. Weddings are expensive, and maybe you didn't want to lose money already spent. Maybe it was for emotional reasons, like not wanting to let your parents down or feeling like you failed somehow.
  • Leaving yourself behind. If you married for love, it doesn't mean you have to become your partner. It's easy to lose your own interests, likes, opinions and beliefs if the only focus is on "making the relationship work." Giving up pieces of your identity can have the opposite effect.
  • Forgetting that parent and spouse are different roles. When you have a child, you become a parent. You don't stop being a spouse. It is easy to get so focused on the children, that partners forget to take care of their marital relationship. After the kids leave, some couples find out that they changed and no longer work as spouses.
  • Having different interests, beliefs and ideas. We are not talking about religion and politics only. Some couples find out that they have different ideas about whether they want to live in the city or on acres of land, whether they want kids or not, or even expectations about who should complete which chores.
  • Losing intimacy, sexual and otherwise. You can expect the butterflies in your stomach and puppy love to fade away as time goes on, but losing the lust, handholding, small kisses and other intimate actions can make spouses feel estranged, as if they are more friends than romantic partners.
  • When real life doesn't live up to the fantasy. Everyone goes into a marriage with certain expectations. When spouses fail, even innocently, to live up to them, it can cause problems for both spouses. One tries to change the other while the other experiences the result, whether it is nagging, complaining or pleading.
  • Money. The real problem lies not in having debt, but instead how couples treat issues involving money. Are you a spender but he is a saver? Do you think paying cash is better than taking out a loan? When debt becomes a problem, do you fight about it or work together to find a solution?
  • Communication. You can't get close to a person and never disagree. How do you handle tough conversations and different opinions? Do you feel like your spouse understands you and listens to you even if they don't share your opinion? When something bad happens, do you pull together or pull apart?

Relationships are complicated. Placing "blame" is often more of a sliding scale of events then a single act. Florida domestic laws, specifically Section 61.052, reflect this notion as a "no fault divorce" state. This means that you do not have to prove that one spouse's specific actions caused the divorce. You simply have to enter a plea that your marriage is "irretrievably broken."

This does not mean that fault is never a part of the conversation. It can come into play during decisions about important issues such as property division, alimony or child custody. How? Now that is an entirely different discussion.

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