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Any close relationship between two people takes time to foster and sustain. This is especially true of relationships between spouses who may grow complacent in a marriage and fail to take the time or put in the effort to address their own needs or those of a spouse. Add in outside stressors like children, careers and financial difficulties and it’s easy to understand why so many marriages end in divorce.

Given the complex nature of relationships between spouses, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what precipitated or led a couple to divorce. A 2014 survey conducted by The Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture attempted to explore this topic and how how Americans’ “attitudes about family and intimate relationships,” are shaped and change over time as societal norms continue to shift and evolve.

For one section of the survey, divorced indivdiuals were questioned about why they divorced an ex-spouse. Respondents were provided a list of “17 distinct reasons” and asked to check those reasons that applied to their personal situation. While the reasons cited by divorced men and women differed, overall an ex-spouse’s infidelity was the most commonly cited reason for divorcing a spouse.

Other top reasons divorcees cited for going through with a divorce included a spouse’s inability to respond to one’s needs, spouses weren’t a good match, a spouse’s immaturity and emotional abuse. Additionally, differences in financial priorities and abuse of drugs or alcohol were also leading contributors to divorce.

No marriage is perfect and all marriages go through ups and downs. However, in cases where the downs far outweigh the ups or where a spouse is physically or verbally abusive or is abusing alcohol or drugs; divorce is likely the best option.

Source: The Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture, “Relationships in America Survey,” 2014