Why do newlywed couples divorce?
When my husband and I got married, divorce was not a part of our vocabulary. However, a few months into the marriage, I began to wonder if it should.
I loved my husband and he loved me. But whenever we had problems, he would shut down: His disengagement drove me nuts.
I reminisced about my single life when I did not have man-issues. I thought about taking leave and moving into my mother’s extra bedroom to escape the misery of my marriage.
The good news is we survived the rocky years. The bad news? A lot of newlywed couples do not pull through.
Today, I want us to look at why newlywed couples divorce.
For over ten years, I have been writing, mentoring, and coaching wives, and I’ve picked on a few reasons why newlywed couples divorce.
Let’s dive in.
Seven reasons why newlywed couples divorce
Simply put, this is a situation where someone lied about who they are and why they want to get married.
Marriages that end in divorce due to misinterpretation tend to have one thing in common – Speed. More often than not, there’s a whirlwind romance accompanied by a quick wedding.
The couple has neither given time to know each other well or for red flags to surface and be addressed. When questions arise, they are quickly explained away or ignored altogether.
Hence why it is crucial to first be healthy at the individual level. Healthy people can tell when something doesn’t feel right, even when they cannot put a finger on the exact thing.
However, when we are desperate to be in a relationship, it’s easy to miss the red flags; easy to be swept off our feet and be so taken by the idea of marriage that we skip over vital relationship benchmarks.
Marriage tends to magnify the things we tried to ignore while dating.
Many people believe new marriages are immune to cheating, and it’s gut-wrenching for a new wife to find out her marriage isn’t as secure as she thought.
Not all marriages where a spouse cheats end in divorce. But infidelity deals is a significant blow to a young union.
The wounding is painful because the relationship has not developed enough muscle to withstand hard blows. There is no married history to look back to to inform a decision-making process.
Spouses in this position tend to panic and do the next logical thing – leave the hurting relationship.Why Newlywed Couples Divorce - 7 Common Reasons
A marriage can recover from infidelity and become even stronger. Nonetheless, whenever recovery occurs, it is due to spouses who are willing to go through the hard work of healing and rebuilding.
3. Communication breakdown
When there is no communication between new spouses, it usually feels like the world has caved in. I know the feeling all too well because my world fell apart when communication broke down in my marriage.
Countless people come into a marriage with poor communication habits, yet many grow and change, as the relationship challenges their bad habits.
Unfortunately, some people are so broken that they do not see where or why they need to change while others are married to their habits; they would rather lose their spouse than lose a part of themselves that feels familiar.
Excellent communication is the life-blood of a marriage.
It is like the oil that lubricates the engine, keeping a car in it’s prime. Communication in marriage touches and greases the essential parts of marriage so the relationship can function.
When you cannot connect on a personal, mental, spiritual, economic, emotional, or social level, the walls go up: Drifting begins, and a split is inevitable.
I do not know where my husband and I would be today had we both stuck to our harmful communication patterns. If it were not God and a desire to make “us” work (a desire that originated from God as well), we would be part of the statistics of why newlywed couples divorce.
To navigate communication breakdowns, new couples must be willing to get the help they need for their marriage to survive.
Marriage can be scary: It is one of the most nerve-wracking decisions people ever make.
Matrimony exposes every fear we never knew we had while testing all ability to endure to the very end. It forces us to grow up in areas we did not realize we needed to mature.
Amid all this stretching and growing, we are required to have a hope that defies our desire for self-preservation.
Not that self-protection does not have a function in marriage, it does. But the desire must be balanced with being “other person” focused.
It’s easy to feel as if you are not cut out for marriage when you are juggling all these opposing realities. You fear that you made a mistake, and start thinking of a plan B.
Please understand, fear is not all bad. “The capacity to be afraid is part of normal brain function. In fact, a lack of fear may be a sign of serious brain damage.” Source
It is perfectly normal for a newlywed couple to feel terrified that they do not have what it takes to be a good husband or wife.
But they must also understand that marriage is a school, and nobody walks into a class, thinking they got it all figured out. We go to school to learn. And those who apply themselves become excellent students.Marriage is a school, and nobody walks into a class, thinking they got it all figured out. We go to school to learn. And those who apply themselves become excellent students.
When my husband shut down, I felt ignored and insignificant. And white-hot mad. The hurt was so deep it left me breathless. It was not until later in our marriage that I began connecting the dots between current reactions and past experiences.
I grew up feeling ignored and unimportant – some of the time. It was not encouraged to be self-expressive, so I grew up to be a moody child prone to outbursts.
I would become extremely sensitive and reactive in marriage, and it took a long time to realize that my husband’s detachment opened a wound I did not know was raw.
Many young marriages fail because couples try to navigate present difficulties using past negative experiences as their reference point.
There is nothing wrong with using the past to inform current choices. Still, young couples can cling to past experiences so fiercely that they derail any opportunities for redemption.
There are other ways to deal with past baggage. For example, you can:
- Talk to someone, even when you think, “It’s no big deal.”
- Read widely and expose yourself to new information-You cannot solve what you do not know
- Talk to God about the issues. This was my go-to option since I didn’t even know what I was dealing with.
6. Unrealistic expectations about marriage
We get married because we meet someone who likely exceeds our expectations. We must continue having healthy expectations in marriage. Even so, not all hopes are healthy.
Many newlywed couples divorce because their expectations are so off the mark that the relationship is choking under their weight.
Examples of unrealistic beliefs and expectations include:
- My spouse should complete me.
- Feelings of happiness are vital to a healthy marriage.
- Marriage should make me happy – all the time.
- A good marriage should be effortless; if it requires work, I must have married the wrong person.
- If God is part of our marriage, then the relationship should be easy.
- A wife should never correct her husband – her role is to pray and to submit. (This lie will drive you nuts as a wife!)
- You cannot have a healthy marriage unless you change each other.
Marriage will challenge every unrealistic belief you have about life-long matrimony. A young couple must find a person or resource to help them explore their feelings and expectations instead of looking for the nearest exit.
In the end, investing in a marriage coach (like yours truly!) or talking to a counselor/mentor is way cheaper than investing in divorce due to unrealistic expectations.
Get one-on-one coaching with me!
7. Final reason why newlywed couples divorce – Bad character
I recently heard a divorce lawyer declare she can tell if a couple will reconcile or go through with the divorce.
“Character,” she said. “People with bad characters don’t make it.”
It sometimes takes a while for deep character flaws to surface but sometimes they are apparent right off the bat.
A healthy marriage requires a level of goodwill from both sides, an ability to empathize, to feel each other’s pain.
But where a spouse is self-centered, controlling, lacking in integrity, wanting to receive without giving and determined to have their way, the chances of reconciliation are much lower.
I truly believe the muscle needed to navigate marriage difficulties is the same muscle required to nurture a healthy marriage.
It is our choice where we exercise it. You can fight to change your default systems, or you can fight in a divorce court. Either way, you fight.
The choice for the newlywed is whether to fight for their marriage or against each other.
A cause for divorce
Despite what you’ve heard out there, most Christian marriages don’t end in divorce.
The actual divorce rate among Bible-believing church-attending Christians is around 20% (Source), which is still a high number, but not as bad as the famous 50% rate.
If you feel like your marriage is hanging around any of the seven things, please know there is hope! You can overcome marriage problems. It requires a deep level of honesty and bravery, but it’s doable!
Make sure to check out this next step – Christian Marriage and Divorce – When You Have Done Enough
These are my seven thoughts on why newlywed couples divorce. I would love to hear from you! What can you add to this list? What can newlywed couples do to avoid divorce? Let’s chat in comments.