4 Researched-Based Reasons Why Couples Break Their Marriage Vows

Melanie Kane
3 min readOct 25, 2022


Why do people say “Until death do us part,” yet thousands of couples break their wedding vows — some even break them beyond repair?

The U.S. is rated as the 6th country in the world with the highest number of divorce cases. It’s estimated that almost 50% of all marriages in the United States will end in divorce or separation.

Over the years, the definition of marriage and dating has been reframed due to cultural shifts in mindset, conduct, and socioeconomic factors.

Technological advances have enabled many men to meet foreign women, but research reveals that “couples who meet on dating apps are six times more likely than other couples to divorce within three years.”

In the words of Brad Paisley, “When you’re old-fashioned like I am, you know marriage is forever. Those vows are a promise.” For instance, a vow for marriage is legally bound by a contract — it shouldn’t be broken.

In the past, divorce was unthinkable since maintaining a happy marriage was prioritized. But today, it is a recurring reality in society despite the rising popularity of marital education, marriage counseling, and family therapy.

As flawed humans, people make mistakes.

Why are wedding vows broken?

Experts say that it’s mainly because of unfulfilled expectations in a marriage. Everyone has relationship needs and wants.

However, frustration occurs as soon as those expectations are unmet. If the hurt is not too severe, those unmet expectations are ignored.

Unfortunately, marriage continues to deteriorate if both partners don’t communicate effectively to fix the underlying issues. Eventually, the damage becomes apparent.

According to an in-depth series of studies led by Dr. John Gottman, there are so-called “Four Horsemen of Divorce,” which are communication habits that entail divorce. Such following factors in a marriage are what he described as “poisonous” — leading to separation:

1. Criticism

Clashing views and complaints are inevitable between unique individuals. However, a healthy relationship is easily destroyed by negative comments.

If you find yourself constantly criticizing your partner’s “flawed traits,” you need to bring up such issues gently. If your needs are unmet, express and share your feelings without offending your partner.

2. Contempt

This can manifest in different forms, including sarcastic comments targeted towards you and your susceptibility to emotional abuse. This entails holding a grudge over your partner as you’re deemed to be in an inferior position.

As a result, your self-worth decreases. Thus, you must open up to your partner about why they made you feel upset.

3. Defensiveness

It’s feeling threatened by your partner’s criticism. You try to protect yourself from their attacks and defend your point of view by overexplaining or taking on the victim mentality.

To mitigate the repercussions, you must self-reflect and ask why you feel this way. Is there anything you could do to change things? Then, take responsibility if you’ve committed any mistakes.

4. Stonewalling

Stonewalling is refusing to talk and withdrawing from topics that upset you. This is due to physiological flooding from the stress that triggers the survival instinct to lose the drive for problem-solving as you flee from dealing with problems.

Try to take a break from fighting and practice self-soothing, such as meditating. This way, you’ll be in a better headspace and in a calmer state to hear both sides of the story.

Ultimately, it takes time to revive broken marriage vows. The primary way is through proper communication. But by being aware of the four horsemen, you can find solutions to overcome relationship obstacles for a lifelong marriage.



Melanie Kane

I’m passionate about helping people find deep, emotional connections through 1stchoicedating.com/welcome