The Most 7 Reasons Why Relationships Fail in Marriage

Relationships collapse or blow up for a seeming myriad of factors—affairs, ongoing arguments, abuse, feeling dismissed or micromanaged or not appreciated, or simply experiencing the steady undertow of boredom and disconnection. You can’t help but come up with some explanation that you eventually tell yourself or others when they ask what happened. But usually, these outcomes were long in the making due to the way emotions and problems were managed. Here are some of the common underlying issues that can drive a relationship into the ground:

1. You avoid conflict.

It’s easy to do this when you’re dating: You let annoyances and red flags go so as not to rock the boat and ruin the weekend or night out. But if this letting-go goes on too long, it undermines the purpose of dating—to find out if you both feel safe being honest and can solve problems together. At some point, you need to turn the corner and speak up.

However, some people struggle to turn that corner because any conflict in a relationship is a challenge. If you grew up in a family where parents were not emotional or were always fighting, it’s easy to become a good child, walk on eggshells, and adopt an “I’m happy if you’re happy stance.”

Problem: You’ve learned to accommodate to avoid any strong emotions; instead of blaming others, you tend to blame yourself. You feel like a martyr, and resentment builds until you can’t take it anymore: You blow up, act out, collapse into depression, or leave.

Solution: Your challenge is to learn to tolerate strong emotions, be assertive, and stand up for what you want.

2. One or both partners are not controlling emotions.

This is the opposite pole—couples who have ongoing arguments. The climate is always tense; they, too, can walk on eggshells, but rather than accommodating, they go into fight mode. Once one gets triggered, it turns into World War III.

Problem: While disagreements are a normal part of relationships, being unable to rein in your emotions is dangerous—there is a risk of real emotional and even physical damage.

Solution: Controlling your emotions is about calming yourself, not biting your lip. Rather than spraying your emotions around the room, you need to learn to use emotions as information to tell others what you need.

3. You are not able to circle back.

Many couples have arguments and then either go into “deep-freeze” mode for a few days—they don’t talk to each other; then, they eventually defrost and pretend nothing happened—or, more commonly, “makeup”—saying they’re sorry—but never going back to talking about the problem for fear of starting another argument.

Problem: Disagreements and issues get swept under the rug and aren’t solved, so they keep coming up or become landmines you try to avoid by constantly walking on eggshells. Over time, your conversations are reduced to a small handful of safe topics—work, kids, the news.

Solution: Step up and take the risk of solving the problem.

4. You are having no intimate conversations.

A byproduct of avoiding conflicts, sweeping problems under the rug, or growing up in a family with little emotional intimacy is a present-day lack of emotional intimacy that leads to loneliness, falling into a roommate-like relationship, or a child- or work-centered focus.

Problem: If you’re afraid to open up and lean on each other, there’s a loneliness that can make you vulnerable to affairs or depression.

Solution: Make time to learn to take risks—be more honest and more trusting, stop holding things in, and put the relationship on the front burner.

5. There is no teamwork.

Many individuals that I see complain about feeling that they are doing the heavy lifting in terms of running the family or making money; they feel resentful and unappreciated.

Problem: Usually, both partners feel this way and argue about who is doing or not doing what. Unfairness leads to resentment, blow-ups, depression, or burnout. Each believes the solution is getting the other to step up, but this only creates a power struggle or ongoing argument about whose reality is right.

Solution: They need to see the problems as the enemy, not each other, and work to come up with a win-win plan.

6. You have different approaches to sex, money, or kids.

These are hot topics in their own right—different libidos, ideas about managing money, or how to raise kids. But these topics often become flashpoints for power issues—not about how we work out a compromise, but a blink contest about who will give in first, whose way comes out on top.

Problem: Often, these issues become the emotional garbage cans for other unresolved issues in the relationship—all our resentments get dumped into how much each spends or what time the kids need to be in bed.

Solution: Get out of your emotional brain and back into your rational one. Solve the problem by understanding what the other genuinely thinks or worries about. Move toward a solution rather than insisting on being right.

7. You have different lifestyles and visions of the future.

You never tackle any of the above because your lifestyle is crazy—passing in the night between kids and work and having no time to have those problem-solving or intimate conversations; you haven’t had a date night or sex in months.

Problem: You feel like a victim; rather than running your life, you’re letting your life run you. But the reality check is that you’re not a victim: It’s time to step up and take responsibility for the decisions, priorities, and lifestyle you’ve created.

Solution: Reclaim your life. Step back and see what needs to change to feel more in control, more able to get what you need, and more connected to your partner. Don’t say you can’t. Your life is yours—claim it.

I realize that all this is easier said than done. But if something resonates, take action—get these issues on the table with your partner, do some short-term therapy, and read a self-help book. Just don’t accept what is.

If not now, when?


Relationships are complex and multifaceted. Understanding the reasons why relationships fail can help couples navigate their challenges more effectively. By addressing issues like communication, trust, and spending quality time together, couples can build stronger, more resilient relationships. Remember, every relationship requires effort, understanding, and a willingness to grow together.


1. How can we improve communication in our relationship?

Improving communication involves active listening, expressing yourself clearly, and having regular check-ins to discuss your relationship and any concerns.

2. What steps can we take to rebuild trust?

Rebuilding trust requires transparency, consistent actions, and patience. Both partners must be willing to put in the effort to regain trust.

3. How do we handle financial disagreements?

Handling financial disagreements involves open communication, creating a joint budget, and working together on long-term financial goals.

4. What are some signs of incompatibility?

Signs of incompatibility include constant arguments, lack of shared interests, and differing life goals. Recognizing these signs early can help address them before they become major issues.

5. How can we spend more quality time together?

Spending more quality time together can be achieved through regular date nights, shared hobbies, and traveling together. The key is to prioritize time for each other.

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