Though no two couples deal with stress in the same way, researchers have found that certain broad categories of life events have been shown to increase the likelihood of divorce. The hope is that by recognizing these contributing factors couples can acknowledge the difficulty surrounding them and take action to protect their relationship. So what are the factors that increase the risk of divorce?
Studies have shown time and again that illness of one spouse is a crucial factor in determining a couple's risk of divorce. The toll that an illness takes on a relationship is tremendous. The sick spouse is no longer able to shoulder his or her share of the burden of the relationship, isolating the ill partner. At the same time, the healthy spouse can begin to feel overwhelmed or resentful due to the new burdens placed on his or her shoulders. This becomes doubly stressful when it is the woman who is ill, forcing men into the role as caretaker, something many may not be appropriately prepared for.
Research reveals that when a man loses his job, the risk of divorce increases for two reasons: (1) men who are unemployed are more likely to be left by a partner and (2) men who are unemployed are more likely to leave their partner. The loss of a stable paycheck can lead to money problems, financial insecurity and feelings of inadequacy, as well as potentially destabilizing the internal dynamics of a marriage, especially if the unemployed partner was used to being the primary breadwinner.
A recent study of military families found that a couple's risk of divorce was directly related to the length of deployment. Time apart due to job relocations or family illness can make it hard for couples to maintain the same level of intimacy. This can lead to developing new routines, new friends and new sources of comfort apart from your spouse, increasing your risk of divorce.
Increasingly scientists are proving what most people have long understood: couples who spent years raising children in noisy, busy homes experience a kind of shock when the house suddenly goes quiet. Couples who may never have had to spend much time alone together now have no buffer and problems that may have been easy to ignore in the past are suddenly thrust to the surface. Data recently revealed that in 2013, for the first time ever, more adults over 50 were divorced than were widowed.