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Why Do Long-Term Marriages End in Divorce?

Divorce after many years of marriage is a complex and often heartbreaking phenomenon. Monika and Anik, married for almost 15 years with two children, recently decided to divorce. Their relatives and friends are perplexed: “Why divorce suddenly after so many years of marriage?”

Understanding this scenario requires delving into various factors and societal perspectives on long-term marriages and divorce.

The Legal and Social Context of Divorce

Divorce is a legal process, allowing any couple to decide to end their marriage at any age. Despite the legal freedom, divorce carries a significant societal taboo, with many judgmental comments surrounding it. However, sometimes divorce becomes a necessary decision for the well-being of the individuals involved.

In the case of Monika and Anik, the intrusion of a third person negatively impacted their relationship, affecting their children’s development and increasing family turmoil. Despite numerous attempts to resolve their issues, they concluded that separation was the best solution.

 Divorce Statistics: A Growing Trend

According to a 2023 report by Prothom Alo, Dhaka city alone saw 13,288 divorce applications in 2022. This means approximately 37 marriages were ending daily, or one divorce every 40 minutes. Notably, 70 percent of these divorce petitions were filed by women.

A 2024 survey by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) revealed that both marriage and divorce rates have increased. The divorce rate, as a proportion of the total population, ranged from 0.6 to 1.1 percent between 2006 and 2021, jumping to 1.4 percent in 2022. Among women over 15, the divorce rate increased from just under 2 percent in 2021 to 3.6 percent in 2022. For men over 15, it rose from slightly over 2 percent to 3.8 percent in the same period. The primary reason for divorce was extramarital affairs.

 Global Perspectives on Long-Term Marriages and Divorce

In the United States, most divorces occur after about eight years of marriage. A report on property law categorizes marriages lasting 5 years as short-term, 5 to 20 or 25 years as medium-term, and more than 20 or 25 years as long-term. Another study found that 86 divorces occur every hour in the United States, or one every 42 seconds.

A 2018 article in *Psychology Today* highlighted that people who divorce once are more likely to divorce again. While the rate of “grey divorce” (divorce after age 50) is rising in the Western world, it remains lower than that of those in their 30s. The longer the marital life, the less the tendency to divorce. However, even in long marriages, separations do occur, often in second or third marriages. Economic comfort plays a significant role in maintaining a marriage. Many individuals decide to divorce when their children are older, although parental separation negatively impacts children at any age.

Common Reasons for Divorce After Long Marriages

The reasons for divorce after many years of marriage are varied and complex. Understanding these reasons can shed light on why even long-term relationships sometimes end.

 Extramarital Affairs

Extramarital affairs are a leading cause of divorce, particularly in Bangladesh. Infidelity can shatter the foundation of trust and respect that a marriage is built upon. When one partner engages in an affair, it often leads to feelings of betrayal, anger, and deep emotional pain. The intrusion of a third person into a marriage disrupts the emotional and psychological equilibrium, making it challenging for the couple to reconcile and rebuild trust. For Monika and Anik, extramarital affairs played a critical role in their decision to divorce, as it created an environment of mistrust and emotional turmoil that affected their children’s development.

 Lack of Mutual Respect

Over time, a lack of mutual respect can erode the very essence of a marital relationship. Respect is crucial for maintaining a healthy and supportive partnership. When respect diminishes, communication often deteriorates, leading to misunderstandings and resentment. Couples may start taking each other for granted, ignoring each other’s needs and feelings. This gradual decline in mutual respect can lead to persistent conflicts and a growing emotional distance, making reconciliation difficult.

 Domestic Violence

Domestic violence, encompassing physical, emotional, or psychological abuse, is a significant and severe cause of divorce. Victims of domestic violence often endure prolonged periods of suffering and fear. The abuse can lead to severe physical injuries and long-lasting emotional scars. In such situations, divorce becomes a necessary step to ensure the safety and well-being of the abused partner and any children involved. Domestic violence is not only detrimental to the victim but also creates a toxic environment for the entire family

 Sexual Dissatisfaction

Issues related to sexual intimacy can strain a marriage significantly. A fulfilling sexual relationship is often seen as a cornerstone of marital satisfaction. When couples experience sexual dissatisfaction, it can lead to frustration, resentment, and a feeling of disconnect. Differences in sexual desires, frequency, and preferences can create tension. Over time, unresolved sexual issues can contribute to a breakdown in the emotional and physical bond between partners.

 Financial Stress

Economic difficulties and financial disagreements are common sources of marital strife. Financial stress can stem from unemployment, debt, differing spending habits, or a significant disparity in income between partners. Constant financial pressure can lead to arguments and a sense of instability. When couples cannot agree on financial matters, it can create a persistent source of conflict, undermining the relationship’s overall health and stability.

 Parenting Disagreements

Conflicts over child-rearing practices can create significant tension in a marriage. Parents may have different approaches to discipline, education, and overall child-rearing philosophies. These disagreements can lead to frequent arguments and a lack of cohesion in parenting. When couples cannot find common ground on how to raise their children, it can create an environment of confusion and inconsistency for the children and stress for the parents.

 Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues, such as personality disorders, depression, anxiety, or addiction, can profoundly impact a marriage. Living with a partner who has untreated or poorly managed mental health issues can be incredibly challenging. It can lead to erratic behavior, emotional instability, and difficulties in maintaining a healthy relationship. Addiction, in particular, can lead to financial problems, trust issues, and a breakdown in communication, further straining the marriage.

 Child Marriage

Early marriages often face more challenges compared to those that begin later in life. Couples who marry young may lack the maturity and life experience needed to navigate the complexities of a long-term relationship. They may grow apart as they develop individually and discover new aspects of their identities and aspirations. Child marriages, in particular, can be fraught with issues related to consent, autonomy, and readiness for such a significant commitment.

 Life-Altering Events

Major accidents, illnesses, or disasters can place immense strain on a marriage. These life-altering events can change the dynamics of the relationship, introducing new stresses and challenges. The emotional and financial toll of dealing with a severe illness or accident can be overwhelming. Couples may struggle to adapt to new roles and responsibilities, leading to feelings of isolation, frustration, and helplessness.

Divorce after many years of marriage is seldom a decision made lightly. The reasons behind such separations are multifaceted and deeply personal. Whether it is the betrayal of an extramarital affair, the erosion of mutual respect, the trauma of domestic violence, sexual dissatisfaction, financial stress, parenting disagreements, mental health issues, the challenges of early marriage, or life-altering events, each factor contributes to the dissolution of the marital bond. Understanding these reasons can help society approach the issue of divorce with greater empathy and support for those going through this challenging process.

 Navigating Divorce After Long Marriages

Divorce after a long marriage requires careful consideration and handling to ensure that the process is as smooth and fair as possible for all involved. Here are some key aspects to focus on during this challenging time:

 Emotional Control

Managing emotions is crucial during and after a divorce. The end of a long marriage can bring about a whirlwind of emotions, including sadness, anger, relief, and confusion. It’s essential to acknowledge these feelings and seek mental health support if needed. Therapy or counseling can provide a safe space to express emotions and develop coping strategies. Support groups for divorced individuals can also offer valuable insights and companionship during this transition.

 Grief Management

Divorce is often accompanied by a profound sense of loss and grief, similar to mourning the death of a loved one. It’s important to take steps to cope with this sadness and trauma. Allow yourself to grieve the end of the relationship, and understand that it’s a natural part of the healing process. Journaling, meditation, and engaging in creative activities can help process grief. Leaning on friends and family for support and sharing your feelings can also alleviate the emotional burden.

 Financial Fairness

Adhering to legal and ethical guidelines regarding finances and property is vital to ensure fairness and transparency. Divorce settlements should be approached with a clear understanding of each party’s financial situation and contributions during the marriage. Consulting with a financial advisor or attorney can help navigate the complexities of dividing assets and liabilities. It’s important not to attempt to deprive anyone of what they are rightfully owed, as this can lead to prolonged legal battles and increased animosity.

 Individuality Maintenance

Divorce provides an opportunity to reintroduce yourself to your personal identity outside of the marriage. After many years of being part of a couple, it can be liberating and empowering to rediscover your interests, passions, and goals. Engage in activities that you enjoy, pursue new hobbies, and consider furthering your education or career. Reconnecting with your sense of self can boost self-esteem and provide a sense of purpose moving forward.

 Social Engagement

Staying active in professional and social circles is essential to prevent isolation and maintain a sense of normalcy. Engage in social activities, join clubs or organizations, and participate in community events. Building a strong support network of friends, colleagues, and family members can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging. Additionally, maintaining professional engagement can offer stability and focus during a turbulent time.

 Child Relationships

Maintaining a healthy, legal, and ethical relationship with children is paramount. Divorce is between spouses, not between parents and children. It’s crucial to ensure that children do not feel caught in the middle or burdened by their parents’ conflicts. Co-parenting agreements should prioritize the well-being and stability of the children. Open communication, consistency, and cooperation between parents can help children adjust to the new family dynamics. Seek the guidance of child psychologists or counselors if needed to support children through the transition.

Conclusion

Divorce is not an easy decision, especially after many years of marriage. However, understanding the reasons and navigating the process with care and consideration can help mitigate the negative impacts on everyone involved. By managing emotions, coping with grief, ensuring financial fairness, maintaining individuality, staying socially engaged, and prioritizing healthy child relationships, individuals can navigate this challenging period with resilience and grace.

 References

  1. Prothom Alo. (2023). Divorce statistics in Dhaka.
  2. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). (2024). Marriage and divorce rates survey.
  3. EBAUB Journal of Law, Volume 2, 2020. Divorce rates among different age groups.
  4. Psychology Today. (2018). Research on divorce trends and reasons in long-term marriages.
Sajeda Akter
Sajeda Akterhttps://www.hlnews.xyz/
Sajeda Akter is a distinguished sociologist and accomplished columnist, with a Master's Degree in Sociology. In Homeland News, she writes about society, family and various major issues in life. A seasoned columnist, she writes for various newspapers on social issues, family dynamics and thought-provoking topics related to various lifestyles. With an adept ability to articulate and analyze social trends, Sajeda Akhtar stands out as a notable figure in the field, contributing thought leadership that has already won over readers. Her work not only informs but also inspires, making her a respected voice in the worlds of journalism and sociology alike.

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