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6 Good Reasons to Divorce

What are good reasons to divorce? Should I leave my marriage or stick with it? These can be hard questions to answer from inside a relationship. Here are six good reasons to divorce that are also warning signs, especially when a spouse refuses to get treatment to change his/her behavior.

  1. Control: Does your spouse attempt to control your behavior, friends, finances, or activities? Does she use threats, anger, or excessive criticism to influence you? This is the first warning sign of many abusive relationships. If your spouse is controlling and domineering and shows no willingness to change, leave the marriage.
  2. Addiction: Addiction is a problem that can be fought and overcome. At the same time, ongoing gambling, drug or alcohol use, or other behavior that harms you, the children, and/or family relationships are good reasons to divorce. If your spouse refuses to get help and/or shows no signs of change, it’s best to separate.
  3. Repeated cheating: One infidelity doesn’t mean the marriage is over; with dedication you and your spouse can move on and strengthen your relationship. At the same time, repeated infidelities or an ongoing affair are good reasons to divorce and can also be considered emotional abuse.
  4. Mistreatment of Children: Violence or inappropriate sexual behavior towards children, biological or not, calls for you to remove yourself and your children from contact with this person right away and seek professional help.
  5. Unchecked mental disorder: As with addiction, mental illness can be successfully managed with the proper help. At the same time, a spouse’s uncontrolled mental health or personality disorder can be too much to for a marriage. If this is a continuous problem that is damaging your mental, emotional or physical health, it’s best for you to separate and let your spouse work on his issues on his own. It is not the right time to be married.
  6. Physical Violence: If your spouse has ever been physically violent towards you or your children, remove yourself as soon as possible and seek help. Physical violence toward anyone, especially you or your children, without commitment to get help, is a deal-breaker. Physical abuse includes putting you in dangerous situations, blocking your access to necessary medical care, and/or forcing decisions about your fertility (pregnancy/abortion).

Both sadly and happily, the bulk of divorces in America today do not take place for these 6 good reasons to divorce. Rather, ongoing unpleasant interactions, disappointment, or emotional distance are what make people believe their marriages are over. What most couples don’t know is that many of these problems can actually be repaired. The key?  Upgrading your marriage skills. 

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Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Health Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant 90-FE-0123. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of Health and Human Servies, Administration for Children and Families.