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Are abuse, neglect, violence the only ‘good’ reasons for a divorce?

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

When we hear about someone divorcing, we want to know the reason for it. When we hear reasons like there was abuse or neglect of one partner in the marriage we feel the divorce is justified. If the woman did not show care and concern for the family or if the man did not play the role of a provider or if there was constant violence in the marriage we feel the divorce is justified. But when other reasons are given for the divorce, many people especially the older generation find it difficult to accept that reason as valid.

What they fail to understand is that the nature of marriage has changed over the decades. As a result the reason for getting married has changes and as a result the reasons for getting divorced has also changed. Four five decades back, it was generally the man who went out to work and the woman managed the household and raised the kids. The roles were very clear with no confusion. So the woman needed a man who could be the provider and the man needed a partner who would run the family. If those roles were fulfilled then that was all that was asked in the marriage. The expectations were clear and more often than not met by the partners. In such marriages if there was a ‘reason’ to divorce it was understandable that abuse, neglect, violence mattered. Today we have come a long way from the man being the provider idea. Here is a snippet of a likely chat about the reason for divorce. “Has there been any abuse? Has he abused you?” “Honestly he has not.” “Has he ever hit you? Been violent?” “Do you think he will dare? Would I take it even? No there has been no violence in our marriage” “Cheating? Has he gone with other women?” “As far as I know, he has not. Sometimes I wish he had, then I would not have to explain so much why I want a divorce” “If nothing of that sort has happened then why divorce? That too after 18 years of marriage?” “There is no emotional connection with him. This has been a hollow marriage for long. We don’t feel for each other. We have made sincere efforts at connecting but it is like two strangers fulfilling a ritual. Marriage has no meaning or purpose. There is no point in staying together for the sake of preserving the ‘institution’ of marriage.The children have grown up and we cannot any longer give that as an excuse. I know you will not understand that but that is what it is.”

If partners choose to move away from a marriage for reasons like, incompatibility, meaninglessness, no-purpose, want to be free mothering/fathering another adult, marriage never suited me, don’t wish to put up with his/her harmful addictions etc, how are those causes less valid than abuse and neglect as long as the divorce does not leave the partner on the roads or devastated?

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