Why Do Marriages Fail?

by | Sep 6, 2022 | Divorce, Family Issues, Relationship Issues | 0 comments

No one sets out to have a failed marriage.  In fact, most people begin their relationship with great excitement and the hope of a “happily ever after” marriage.  Unfortunately for some people, somewhere along the way, the dreams get derailed and what started with such promise becomes a downward spiral of conflict and hurt.  How does this happen? 

Some of the most common issues that contribute to marriages failing are: 

Inability to Resolve Conflicts

One of the most common reasons that marriages fail is the inability of the couple to successfully resolve conflicts.  Unresolved conflicts build up over time and create a wall of resentment.  Instead of listening and trying to understand to each other, each person gets dug into their side of the argument.  As a result, the couple often finds themselves in the same argument they have been in a thousand times before.  When the argument ends, each person often feels completely misunderstood and further convinced that they are right and thus justified in their anger. As a result, the walls just get higher and higher.  It is hard to have intimacy with someone who is completely walled off from you. 

Poor Communication Skills

It is hard to resolve conflicts without effective communication strategies.  Many people think that if they yell louder or push their points more forcefully that it will finally get through to their spouse.  Instead, it often does the opposite.  Imagine someone unexpectedly banging on your front door.  Do you rush to open it, or do you lock the door to ensure that an intruder doesn’t get it?  If we feel attacked or unsafe, we tend to pull back to protect ourselves.  Yelling at each other never makes anyone feel safer and more open to each other.  Alternatively, some couples tend to fight in silence.  The angrier they get the more they withdraw and withhold.  Both of these communication strategies can begin to create the conditions for a failed marriage. 


Infidelity and affairs can obviously lead to the demise of a relationship.  However, what most couples don’t realize is that many affairs are the result of a lack of emotional intimacy within the marriage.  When a person begins to feel completely alone and disconnected from their spouse, they often start to think that they don’t have anything left to lose.  An affair becomes a short step when the friendship, communication, and loving connection in the marriage has deteriorated.  As a result, affairs are often the symptom of the underlying problems in the relationship.  However, there are some instances where affairs occur for other reasons, such as sexual addiction, sexual identity issues, or a general lack of commitment to the marriage.   


Sometimes mistrust occurs because of baggage from old relationships or from family of origin issues.  If you feel like everyone always leaves you, then it often feels appropriate to believe that your current partner will also leave you.  The thought often becomes, “How do you trust someone when you couldn’t even trust your own parents?”, or “My last spouse cheated on me and so I know that you will too.”  Unfortunately, this general mistrust can end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The mistrust and accusations can begin to create resentments, which can lead your partner to emotionally withdraw from the relationship.  The more that they withdraw, the more that you feel justified in your mistrust, which leads to more withdrawal.  

Alcoholism and Substance Abuse

Alcohol and drug abuse can have a profound impact on a marriage.  It is hard to feel emotionally intimate with someone who is drunk or high all of the time.  In fact, it is not uncommon to feel like your spouse is having an affair (with alcohol or drugs) when they are active in their addiction. Suppose feels like they would rather spend time with the alcohol than spend time with you.  It becomes very difficult to create or maintain emotional intimacy because the alcoholic or addict tends to spend increasing amounts of time either using, recovering from their use, or preparing for the subsequent use.  Obviously, this can create a great deal of anger and resentment which can further erode the connection to the marriage.  

Other Addictions

Gambling addictions, porn addictions, and sexual addictions can also destroy the trust within a marriage.  Addicts tend to lie in order to cover up their behavior and protect their access to continuing the behavior.  The more they lie and the more unreliable they become, the more it erodes the emotional bonds within the marriage.  If left untreated, addictions can lead to the demise of even the strongest marriages. 

Unresolved Issues from the past

Unresolved trauma, grief, betrayals, abuse, abandonment, or other issues from the past can create barriers to emotional intimacy.  The more painful the past, the more potential it has to impact your current relationships.  Small arguments can become huge arguments because the feelings from the past can get mixed in with current feelings during an argument.  It can become difficult to resolve arguments when you don’t know why the feelings are so intense.  Fortunately, therapy can help you deal with the baggage from the past so that it doesn’t invade your current marriage. 


The inability to successfully navigate financial issues can create significant problems within a marriage.  Money represents a lot of things to people.  For example, for some people, money represents security, while for others it represents freedom.  Since couples typically have a limited amount of money, they have to learn to communicate effectively about money.  The fewer couples agree about finances the more stress it tends to place on the marriage.   

Inability to manage anger

Everyone gets angry sometimes, especially in relationships.  However, if anger is expressed in unhealthy ways, it can begin to destroy a marriage.  The more a person feels attacked, threatened, or hurt, the more they tend to withdraw in order to protect themselves.  On the other hand, some people who feel attacked, simply attack back.  This tends to create an ever-increasing amount of intense volatile arguments.  The more volatile the arguments become, the more it puts the marriage at risk. 

Disagreements about parenting

A lot of conflicts can get created when couples disagree about the best way to parent children.  These disagreements can lead to long-term resentments which can escalate over time, especially when children become teenagers.  Kids often feel the tension between their parents and then tend to act out in ways that heighten the tension.  The greater the tension, the more stress that it puts on the marriage.   

Blended family issues

Blended families experience unique stressors.  Some of these stressors include changing expectations, conflicts with ex-spouses, unclear rules about how non-biological children get parented, struggles to blend finances, new rules about chores and responsibilities, and how to create time to be a couple.  If not successfully resolved, these stressors can make it difficult to maintain emotional intimacy. 

Extended family issues

Extended families can create a lot of stress on a marriage.  For example, historical expectations about how holidays are spent can lead to conflicts.  What do you do if your spouse wants one thing, and your family of origin expects something else?  In addition, what if your spouse and your family don’t like each other?  Just because you love your spouse, doesn’t mean your family will feel the same way.  This can obviously create a lot of tension in the marriage and if not successfully managed can lead to problems within the marriage. 

Conflicts about sex

Arguments about sex are not unusual in a relationship.  How these arguments get resolved matters.  If left unresolved, arguments about sex can lead to resentment and feelings of being unloved and unwanted.  


Physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse can all threaten a marriage.  If you are in an abusive relationship, it is important to get help.  Healthy relationships don’t’ tolerate abuse.  So, don’t learn to tolerate the intolerable.   

Marriage Therapy Can Help!

If your marriage is struggling, marriage therapy can help.  As a couple, you can acquire the skills to resolve conflicts and communicate effectively.

We Can Help!

MHThrive provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit to learn more.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any mental health or substance abuse issues, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

Online Treatment Programs provides Teletherapy Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Programs allowing participants to receive intensive therapy with our licensed therapists and psychiatrists without having to leave home.  If you or someone you know is struggling to overcome depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma, panic attacks, PTSD, alcoholism, drug abuse, or other mental health or addiction issues, we can help.  To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our teletherapy programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.