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Divorce danger zones: 2 periods where many marriages fail

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2024 | Divorce |

When people marry, they usually anticipate being together for a lifelong journey, where they provide companionship and love for each other and share their goals and dreams.

However, the realities of marriage can be a lot more difficult than many couples anticipate, and many will encounter significant challenges in their relationship over time. Even though divorce rates are broadly declining in the United States (except for the 55 and over crowd), every marriage has its rough points – and a lot of marriages fail around specific points, namely within the first two years and around years seven and eight. 

The first 2 years: The honeymoon phase hits reality

The early stages of a marriage are often characterized by what is commonly referred to as the “honeymoon phase.” Coming right off the excitement of a wedding and starting their shared life together, couples tend to be caught up in the romance of their relationship – right until they have to fall back into a daily routine. 

It’s no coincidence that infidelity rates are very high during the first two years of marriage, particularly among men. Many are likely seeking to recapture some of the thrill or intense feelings they felt leading up to the wedding and shortly after. Aside from infidelity, a lot of marriages end in the first two years due to:

  • Adjustment challenges: It takes a lot of compromises to transition from being single to being married, and both partners have to figure out how to navigate shared financial obligations, living arrangements and decision-making processes. When one or both halves of a couple cannot adjust, that can lead to constant conflict.
  • Unrealistic expectations: Sometimes one or both partners will enter the marriage with wholly unrealistic beliefs about the way marriage works, whether that’s due to norms in their social circles, media portrayals (which show little of marriage’s realities) or their personal fantasies about married life. When reality fails to live up to the dream, disillusionment can set in.
  • Communication issues: Effective communication is the bedrock of a healthy marriage, yet many couples struggle to express their needs and concerns openly. Misunderstandings, unspoken beliefs and unresolved conflicts can create escalating tension.

Ultimately, once the initial euphoria of marriage fades away, ordinary life can seem stressful and boring – and a lot of marriages fall apart.

Years 7 and 8: Shifts in priorities 

A lot of couples often encounter a new set of challenges that can strain their bonds somewhere around year five of a marriage, with the biggest danger of divorce occurring between years seven and eight. 

This marks the time when many couples start to prioritize their careers, children or passion projects over their relationship, and some marriages don’t survive. Some of the biggest dividing factors that lead to marital discord include:

  • Stagnation and routine: A sense of routine and predictability can take over, which can leave one or both halves of a couple feeling that their relationship is stagnant. 
  • Childcare stress: For couples with children, parenting can be a significant stressor. Balancing childcare responsibilities, career obligations and personal goals can leave little time and energy for their marriage.
  • Unresolved issues resurface: The birth of children, early career changes and the novelty of being married can cause some couples to ignore certain problems in their marriage early on – but those issues have a way of surfacing again once things settle down. Everything from differing values to unmet needs can strain a relationship past its breaking point.

In the end, it doesn’t matter why you have reached the point where you’re contemplating divorce – but you’re far from alone. Seeking legal guidance about your divorce options can help you anticipate what’s to come and make definitive plans for the future.