Americans enjoy talking about themselves. If you want to know why somebody does something, ask them. Psychologists ask lots of people lots of questions about sexuality, marriage, bad habits, and divorce. They compile the answers into research papers and then announce findings. Over the years, hundreds of such papers have analyzed reasons people divorce. Some may surprise you; others seem so expected as to be predictable.


Leading the pack even in this “enlightened” age is marital infidelity. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University assembled answers to the open-ended question, “What do you think caused the divorce?” and the #1 answer was extra-marital affairs.

Underlying the roaming eyes (and hands, and, well, other body parts) is a lack of intimacy, say experts at Emotional affairs often lead to physical affairs, because the marital partner has tuned out all the signals coming from her or his spouse:

  • “I am here; I need you; I want you.”
  • “Please listen to me. Please notice me.”
  • “Surprise me. Seduce me. Indulge me. Protect me.”


Every woman at some point wants a project of a man, a man in need of “repair.” Soon enough, she tires of trying to rebuild you, and she loses interest. What was at first a cute foible becomes an irritating habit. What was an odd quirk becomes some evil scheme against her. Toenails on the bathroom rug again? You like baseball and she likes yodeling. You two are not meant for each other, and any attempt to rebuild you in the image she wanted is hopeless.

Sociologists Alan Booth, David Johnson, Paul Amato, and Stacy Rogers of Penn State cited incompatibility as the second reason couples gave. Part of the researchers’ work revealed a shift in “marital quality” from the 1980s onward. Perhaps people simply put up with each other to a greater degree before 1980, but after an era when women could successfully earn their own incomes and work outside the home, couples who did not get along were comfortable with moving on.

The quality of a marriage may have mattered less in earlier times, when marital satisfaction came from having a roof, regular meals, and clothes. Once Virginia men became accustomed to steady work, steady income, and regular sex, perhaps they learned to aspire to something more from their wives.

Sauced or Stoner

The researchers’ third group of divorced couples pointed to drug and alcohol abuse as reasons to go their separate ways. There’s little to argue with here; a mean, sleepy or happy drunk is still a drunk. A stoner, crack head, tweaker or burnout is hardly a fit spouse. Unless you are the type who relishes the endless battle to reform an addict, you will soon tire of the fight. You will leave the marriage.

Addiction alone is not always the trigger for a divorce. You may consider leaving your wife because she spends too much of your household money on beer or liquor, which she mostly gives away to friends, neighbors and family. She herself may be sober as a Circuit Court judge, but the constant financial battles become too much.

Then, too, drug or alcohol use may take you away from home too many nights a week, leading to a psychological distance between you and your wife. You are not spending too much money; you are not addicted; but you are letting drugs or alcohol drive a wedge between you and your spouse.


Teenagers are masters of driving parents crazy by muttering, “Whatever,” in response to some genuine issue. Yet the tepid, vague word is also a klaxon call to a bad marriage. If you and your spouse are so ungrounded or uncommitted to each other that anything goes, you are not likely to last.

The Penn State researchers, plus other investigators at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, found that a failure to commit to a marriage was a leading cause of divorce.

This goes beyond impulse weddings and desperation engagements. Merely acquiescing to the person in front of you (because saying “Yes” is somehow easier than finding your soulmate) is an invitation to a short marriage. You have to be willing to work at marriage; researchers found that many people are unwilling to work at it.


We could not agree on whether arguments or conflicts were the next leading cause of divorce for Virginia’s men. Finally, one of us just stormed out, upset and seething. We suppose that makes the other one the winner.

If you see a bit of your marriage in that paragraph, you may be headed toward divorce. Arguments arise; one of the most common arguments in marriage is about money. Most arguments arise from one partner not feeling appreciated or listened to.

Whatever your reasons for seeking a divorce in Virginia, please contact The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184, or contact us online. We do more than just study the divorce landscape. We navigate divorce in Virginia every day. We zealously defend men’s rights, and can protect you during your divorce, no matter the reason.