Common Causes of Divorce

Marriages are made in heaven; however, divorce has become a common and earthly matter. As young women have become economically independent they have started asserting their right to live an independent life and have little tolerance for the tradition-bound thinking that chained them to disastrous marriages. Earning as much as their husbands do, and sometimes more, they are ready to walk out on a marriage with short notice.

The developed world has long graduated into a way of life that accepts divorce, live-in and functional relationships and a demise of the institution of marriage. As we speedily catch up with the West economically, will marriage fall by the wayside in India also? What are the issues that are peculiar to Indian couples as they try to cope with the demands of a fast globalising milieu? This site gives a quick look at the common causes of marital discord and suggests some ways to approach it.         

Financial freedom & Assertion of independence:

Women who have lived in abusive relationships are now beginning to assert their independence due to the economic liberation that they have gained by being employed. They have independent bank accounts and investments and can afford to walk out of a non-sustainable situation without the fear of being at the man’s mercy. Apart from this, if young women see that their careers are being jeopardised by a non-supportive spouse, they may seek other alternatives.    

Greater societal acceptance:  
There is greater acceptance in the society of divorced men and women and it is no longer as difficult to find another spouse. Families (particularly in urban and semi-urban areas) are willing to live with the fact that their sons/daughters need to separate from a relationship that is not working out. This acceptance is far greater when the daughter’s are independent and are not likely to be a financial burden. In any case, a woman’s financial independence also implies that their families are less able to influence their decisions and hence they tend to be supportive.

Extra marital affairs:    
Not only have societal sexual norms become more liberal but there is greater emphasis being laid on sexual satisfaction of the woman and conjugal compatibility in a marriage. When these are not obtained within a relationship, married couples increasingly seek it outside the marriage. In cases where both the spouses are employed the opportunity for extra marital relations increases giving rise to marital discord and divorces.      

Diminishing urge/capacity for adjustment:        

As women begin to compete with men in the social and economic sphere, their self-esteem has gone up and they demand equal rights. They expect cooperation and equal share in raising the family from the man. Fewer women are willing to be tied down after they have had children. They want the man to help them in creating space for them to explore their careers and succeed in it. When this does not happen they are willing to forego their marriages in many cases.     

Attitude towards marriage itself is changing / More DINK (Double Income No Kids) couples:     

It is still a commonly held belief that a family is complete when there are children in it. However, in an age when career and pleasures that are obtainable with the money earned become of primary importance, there is no space for children. The absence of children puts an additional burden on both the spouses leading to marital discord. This situation also becomes exacerbated when one of the spouses (often the man) wants a child and the other does not. 


The USP in today’s workaholic world is performance. Your promotions and increments are based on what you earn for the company. Work places have become increasingly competitive and this means that one or both the spouses find that they are working late into the evening, on week-ends and taking work home. This not only causes health problems but it also leads to tensions within the marriage. When you are married to your work, why do you need a husband?      

Intervention of the joint family system:    

With the demise of the joint family system, all the tensions associated with marital and family life devolve upon the couple themselves, thus leading to a lot of stress. Nuclear families have meant loneliness for the non-working partner. If this loneliness is accompanied by a move to a new place, then the strain becomes unbearable for the non-working pattern.      

Financial Problems:       

Almost all families carry financial burden of repaying loans, children’s education and other expense. When there is a fall in income or life becomes more expensive, the ability of a family to meet its needs is threatened. Often this leads to acrimonious exchanges among couples leading to divorces.        

Emotional abuse: 
More than physical violence it is the emotional abuse that wears down many marriages. This often arises from a husband’s understanding of the traditional role of a woman and a mother and the woman’s move towards freedom. Emotional abuse takes many forms and may include:   

  1. Constant criticism of quality of cooking
  2. Complains about expenditure and waste
  3. Demanding sex when the spouse does not want to have it
  4. Controlling the amount of money made available
  5. Expecting a woman to work late into to the night and early in the morning to run the family.
  6. Expectation that a woman who is employed for as many hours as a man is, should come home and do all the domestic chores.
  7. Husband’s unwillingness to run a home