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What Causes Some Parents (And Not Others) to Break up?

Seven deadly divorce factors

Factors for Divorce |

Nothing puts a strain on a relationship quite like having a kid. But what causes some couples to break up while others manage to weather the storm wreaked by the pitter patter of tiny feet?

Researchers in Sweden analyzed data from 2012 that found as many as one in three couples with young children separates. Parents in the study were questioned at three points after the birth of their first child: 6 months old, 4 years-old, and 8 years-old. 

After the four-year mark, many of the couples had split. 

By comparing their answers with those of couples who stayed together, researchers came up with seven factors that ultimately drive a wedge between parents: 

  1. Parenting strains
    Being a first-time parent is tough. Actually, that's a ridiculous understatement; Adele was right. Being able to share the many responsibilities that come with raising a little person is huge. Imbalance in the load parents carry can create tensions that escalate over time. Think divide and conquer the To Do list.
  2. Stress
    The most stressful time - that's how researchers describe the period when young children are at home. It goes without saying, when we are under the most pressure that we need the most kindness, appreciation and understanding. Even if it's just for changing a diaper.
  3. Lack of intimacy
    The biggest drops in sensuality and sexuality were reported by surveyed parents when their child was four years old. (Tellingly, that was also the average age at which most couples separated or divorced.) And by intimacy we don't just mean sex, but lots of touching, hugging, kissing, etc. Any form of physical contact at the end of a long day helps cement the bond and can actually lead to intercourse. Even if it only lasts 3.5 minutes...
  4. Lack of communication
    While it's normal to dial down communication in the early years, out of sheer exhaustion or exasperation, couples should keep talking. If the relationship "downturn" is ignored, claim researchers, trouble will brew. They recommend conversations that begin with "I feel..." instead of the accusatory-sounding, "You never...". Trust this mama. Nothing ever good came of a "You never..." sentence.
  5. Different interests
    Pre-kids, there was so much time, wasn't there? Time for his interests. Time for hers. Post-kids, and you question there are still in fact 24 hours in a day because you swear some invisible and insidious force gobbled up at least six of those hours. Post-kids, your window of downtime dwindles, so it's important that couples agree on how best to spend it. Of course we all need time to pursue individual passions, but couple time has to figure, too.
  6. Lack of commitment
    Don't wait to get help. Researchers claim many separated couples swept their issues under the rug to avoid conflict. And by the time they finally got counselling, they were too estranged as a couple to find their way back to each other.  
  7. Addiction
    Another situation in which outside intervention may be necessary, but substance abuse doesn't have to lead to a breakup. 


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