Why Couples Break Up

Couples Counseling Associates
Call or Text 312-416-6191
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Why couples break up? Couples break up for many reasons. Relationship pundits often attribute break ups to money, sex, in-laws, children, and other normal life stresses. But those are not the reasons why couples break up. All those seemingly disparate problems boil down to three underlying reasons.

Top 3 Reasons Why Couples Break Up

The most common reasons couples break up are:

1)      They haven’t learned how to deal with their differences.

During the honeymoon period of a relationship, differences tend to shuffled to the background and similarities prevail. This is the time when the attraction is strongest and the relationship has time to form.  But inevitably this first stage of the relationship doesn’t last. After the honeymoon period, the real relationship sets in.

In a real relationship, we get disappointed, we don’t always get our needs met, we don’t like everything about our partners, and we don’t always agree on important things. When the real relationship sets in, many couples exhibit the following:

a.        They have escalating conflicts

b.      They feel like they made the wrong choice of mate

c.       They blame each other for their problems

d.      They think about breaking up

Usually, this means that couples have not found a way to diffuse conflict, solve problems, accept their differences and continue to be kind and generous, like they were when they first met. Sometimes couples separate or divorce at this stage.

2)      They don’t pay attention to the relationship anymore.

Relationship experts keep saying that a relationship needs “work”. But more than “work” a relationship needs “attention”. Most couples start out highly satisfied and then begin to take each other from granted and stop paying attention to each other. When couples stop paying attention to the relationship,  this  results in

a.       Disconnection: They have grown apart and no longer feel connected

b.      Lack of Touch: They don’t touch each other anymore or as often

c.       Lack of Sex: They don’t have sex or not as often

d.      They don’t do things together

So, as normal stresses of a life together pile up and crowd out the time for romance and intimacy, couples may put less effort into their relationship or they  may let the grievances they hold against one another tear them apart. Some couples divorce or separate because of severe disconnection rather than severe conflict.

These two reasons are the most common reasons couples request appointments with a couple’s counselor and when couples counseling works best.

3) They have difficult time influencing their partner.

Relationships are not easy. A third common reason for a break up is when one member of the couple feels like he/she is doing most of the work of accommodating and changing. There is a perceived lack of balance in the way that accommodation happens or one or both feel like they are not able to influence their partner.

As couples move through time, there is a need to adjust to changed circumstances, changed roles, and  changed life experiences.  If one member of the couple does most of the changing, resentment may set in.

A well trained counselor can help re-balance the expectation for change, manage conflict, deal with differences and repair disconnections to avoid painful break ups or to help break up with dignity.

Couples Counseling can help same sex couples avoid break ups too.


In some circumstances, one of the members of the couple loses hope but the other member believes that the relationship can be improved and saved. In those cases, a few sessions of discernment counseling can help.


Finding Qualified Help Is Not Easy

Other Reasons Why Couples Break Up

Why Couples Break Up

Other reasons couples break up are more complex.

Couples also break up:

1)      If one or both members of the couple has a history of alcohol abuse or abuses other drugs

2)      If one or both members of the couple has childhood history of trauma

3)      If one or both members of the couple has a mental health disorder or diagnosis.


These reasons operate like risk factors affecting couples negatively. Couples who have these risk factors are advised to pay attention to how they navigate their relationship. There is a correlation between individual risk factors and relationship problems. The more risk factors, the more potential for relationship problems. 

Now you know the main reasons why couples break up.

It may take a bit more time, and it may require both individual and couples counseling but with commitment to, and a plan for, change, these relationships can thrive too.

Find out if Couples Counseling can be helpful for your relationship

Top Reasons Why Couples Break up

Couples Counseling Associates in Chicago

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© 2018 Couples Counseling Associates

 Associated Therapists

Sara Schwarzbaum


Founder, Couples Counseling Associates 


Tap to Call:
312-416-6191 ext. 202

Liz Garvey



Tap to Call:
312-416-6191 ext. 207


Linda Lazzara


Associated therapist

Tap to Call:
312-416-6191 ext. 205

Also in Arlington Heights

637 E. Golf Rd Suite 201

Arlington Heights Il 60005



 Associated Therapist

Michael Villarreal:


773 789-9775

Associated Therapist Giulia Casani MA,LMFT

500 North Michigan ave - Suite 600 Chicago, Il 60611
Phone 773 580 0152

Associated Threapist

Kate Engler, LMFT, LPC 

10024 Skokie, Blvd. Suite 207Skokie, IL 60077(224) 233 - 1036 ext. 418 (office)(844) 546 - 6642 (mobile - PLEASE NOTE: this number does not accept text messages)



All the mental health professionals practicing at 737 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2130, Chicago, IL 60611 or any other locations, are individually licensed by the State of Illinois and practice independently and separately. They have no legal relationship to the practices of each other and do not incur in liability for services of one another or to Dr. Sara Schwarzbaum.