Divorce attorneys have a front-row seat to the kinds of problems that can chip away at relationships. Every day in their offices, they get an earful from clients about what led to divorce.
What are some of the most common complaints they hear? Below, divorce lawyers from around the country share nine of the most prevalent marital issues.
1. My spouse rarely helps out with the kids.
“When I first meet with people during the consultation, I often hear that the husband or wife doesn’t feel like they have an equal partner in their marriage, especially when it comes to the responsibility of caring for their children. It takes time and energy to manage a family’s extracurricular activities, doctor’s appointments and social activities. Whenever someone feels their spouse is not pulling their weight, resentment will build. When it involves children, though, it becomes much more complicated. When they are in my office, I know they have tried everything and asked their spouse to step up and help, but they have not been successful. Filing for divorce is the only way they believe they will get some reprieve from it.” — Puja A. Sachdev, an attorney in San Diego, California
2. We never talk about our problems.
“It’s nothing that either spouse says ― it’s what they don’t say. Problems crop up and no one wants to rock the boat. So no one deals with the problem. No one talks about it. But then it doesn’t go away. It goes underground, then another problem crops up. This time, dealing with it is even harder because both parties still hold resentment from the first problem they never dealt with. So they push the second problem under the rug. Then the third. And so on. At some point, they explode over something that seems stupid and silly. Ultimately, they’re arguing about the ongoing, unspoken problems they have.” ― Karen Covy, an attorney and divorce coach based in Chicago, Illinois
3. Our sex life fizzled out, and so did any intimacy.
“Honestly, I can go on and on, but those are two big complaints I hear. What it boils down to is life has gotten in the way and there is no longer a connection between spouses. Even more than sex, it has to do with a lack of communication and lack of intimacy. What couples fail to realize is that the work of the relationship does not end at ‘I do’ ― there is work to be done every day. I know it sounds trite but it is important to connect with and check in with your spouse on a daily basis whether you are sharing a meal or walking the dog.” ― Lisa Helfend Meyer, an attorney in Los Angeles, California
4. My spouse reconnected with an old flame on Facebook.
“I have recently had clients inform me that their spouses were becoming ‘addicted’ to social media; more importantly, the social media ‘addiction’ was merely a symptom of an age-old problem ― cheating. Their spouse clicked the ‘like’ button on someone’s Facebook post and it escalated into sexual chats, texting and ultimately, face-to-face meetings where the flame was rekindled. It’s likely that the person would have sought out some way to cheat even without social media. So the social media ‘addiction’ was merely a symptom of the ultimate issue: infidelity. Some couples can work through the issue of infidelity, but most cannot ― and that’s what leads them to my office.” ― Douglas Kepanis, an attorney in New York City
5. We feel more like roommates than spouses.
“People often say that their spouse feels like a stranger, not the person they married. Clients often describe themselves as ‘roommates’ and say they spend little time interacting with their spouse. More commonly, they say that their spouse has ‘checked out.’” ― Carla Schiff Donnelly, an attorney in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
6. My spouse is selfish.
“Selfishness manifests itself in different ways: stingy with money, unwilling to listen and be emotionally present, not sharing responsibility for chores and the kids, having an affair instead of trying to work it out or splitting with respect, not being aware of the other’s needs and wants. The exact form of selfishness varies from case to case, but the theme is always there in divorce cases.” ― Alison Patton, a San Diego-based divorce attorney and mediator
7. We speak different love languages.
“Two people may love each other, but not ‘feel loved’ if they have a different love language. That means, if one spouse’s ‘language of love’ is to do helpful things or buy gifts, and the other’s love language is verbal affirmations, loving touch, or quality time together, the receiver doesn’t really feel love, and the giver doesn’t feel appreciated for the love they’re giving. When that happens, there isn’t enough credit in the love bank for them to get through the challenges that come with any relationship. They’re fighting over money or sex, when underneath that is the need for simple physical connection or quality time. Find out your love language: It might just keep you out of a divorce lawyer’s office.” ― Dennis A. Cohen, an attorney and mediator in Marina del Rey, California
8. I feel taken for granted.
“This complaint makes sense. When courting each other, there’s often a lot of flattery and extra attention spent listening to and pleasing your mate. But once the deal is done, once the relationship is sealed with vows, many feel safe and worry less that their partner is happy. Many people who hire me tell me they’ve been unhappy for years, that they’ve waited and waited for things to improve before they finally hit their limit. Rarely do I encounter a couple getting divorced because of a sudden or one-time event such as a one-night stand or one ugly argument. With so much invested in a marriage, it often takes quite a lot for someone to get to the point of no return. But when they get there, it is often because they finally realize they would be happier unmarried to that person ― or as someone once told me, less miserable.”— Randall M. Kessler, an attorney in Atlanta, Georgia