Women considering divorce often turn to therapy as a last-ditch effort to save their marriages. Many times, their husbands have remained painfully unaware of the marital problems until that point, said Christine Wilke, a marriage therapist in Easton, Pennsylvania
“That’s exactly why good communication skills are such a key ingredient in a healthy marriage,” she told The Huffington Post. “So many women don’t feel seen, heard or validated in the relationship.”
Below, Wilke and other marriage therapists share the most common reasons women file for divorce. (We also recently asked them to share the most common issues men bring up before initiating divorce. Read that here.)
1. They feel taken for granted and overly responsible for the relationship.
For a marriage to work, both spouses need to show up. It requires attention, effort, intention and strong communication. At the end of the day, many wives take stock of all they do for their families and wonder where their spouse has been, said Kristin Davin, a psychologist and meditator in New York City.
“These women feel they carry the weight of the relationship, do most of the emotional work and constantly have to find new and novel things to do to keep the relationship alive,” she said. “It gets frustrating when they don’t receive equal (or close to equal) care in return. After a while, they say, ‘why bother’?”
2. They keep having the same argument with their partner.
Many couples in marriage therapy have had the same argument about the same issues for years. When their needs continue to go unmet, mutual resentment grows ― a factor that is lethal to a relationship, said Olga Bloch, a marriage and family therapist in Rockville, Maryland.
“When women feel like they’re unable impact change, you start hearing statements like ‘You never listen to me’ or ‘your apologies are hollow and mean nothing,’” Bloch said. “This is particularly difficult if there is an addiction involved. Eventually women give up on the relationship and begin to look for a way out because staying no longer is an option.”
3. They’re not satisfied with their sex lives.
For most couples, sex is a good barometer for the general health of the marriage. When women complain about their sex lives, there’s usually greater problems outside the bedroom, Davin said.
“Wives in sexually frustrating marriages feel exhausted and emotionally starved,” she said. “Or sometimes the issue is: can the couple be affectionate with one another without it always leading to sex? Sexual intimacy can easily become an issue that drives a wedge in a marriage.”
4. They don’t talk and emotionally connect with their husband like they used to.
Many long-married women are driven to divorce because they no longer feel emotionally tied to their partners, Wilke said.
“In fact, I’d say it’s the number one reason women leave their marriages,” she said. “This issue in particular makes an unhappy spouse so much more vulnerable to having an affair and looking for that connection elsewhere.”
5. They’ve outgrown their partners.
It’s inevitable that people will grow as individuals throughout the course of their relationship. It only becomes a real issue when they grow apart and one partner is resistant to reconnecting, said Anne Crowley, an Austin, Texas-based psychologist.
“As a marriage changes and evolves, it’s not uncommon to hear a wife tell her husband ‘I feel like I’ve outgrown you’ ― especially if they’ve had kids,” Crowley said. “Often the wife has invited and encouraged her spouse to go to therapy, to bridge that gap. If he’s resistant, it creates an impasse for the couple: The wife does not want to continue to repeat the same unhealthy patterns and he wants to maintain the status quo.”
6. They get to the point where divorce is the only way to put themselves first again.
“What I hear again and again is that they would rather end their marriage than face another day, week or year with their spouse and troubling issues that never get better.”
After enduring the behavior for so long, many wives realize they don’t deserve to live with tension and disappointment day in and day out.
“Sometimes, despite their love, commitment and best roll-up-their-sleeves efforts to stay married, people just reach a point of no return and choose to split up,” Reilly said.