The Big 8 Reasons Marriages Struggle

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There are many theories and explanations about why marriages struggle or end in divorce. Is it money? Is it sex? Is it communication? From study and observation in the therapy room a marriage and family therapist thinks there's more to it than the topics generally discussed by the public.

There are many theories and explanations about why marriages struggle or end in divorce. Some say money is the biggest factor. Some say sex. And others are convinced it's all about communication. But from study and observation in the therapy room there seems to be more to it than those generally discussed by the public.

The following are the top eight things Dr. Klayne I. Rasmussen, marriage and family therapist with IntraLife Systems (, has observed and concluded as being core to the marital problems seen over and over in therapy. Even good marriages deal with each one of these to one extent or another. Couples would be better off if they understood them.

Here is the list of the "Big 8" Reasons Marriages Struggle:

The first reason Rasmussen cites for struggling marriages is individual pursuits. An individual pursuit is an activity, behavior or thought that serves oneself to the detriment of the relationship. What it means is that when those interests are engaged in to the extent that it affects the marriage they are individual pursuits and not marital pursuits. While Rasmussen says it's important to maintain friendships and hobbies for self-fulfillment but partners should be careful not to get caught up in self-fulfillment and forget that the relationship is more important than the individual. Even emotions like depression and anxiety can turn into individual pursuits.

The second reason marriages struggle according to Rasmussen is lack of commitment. Just because a couple has been married for 20 years doesn't mean they’re committed. Commitment is not always related to years married. Commitment means giving 100% loyalty, fidelity and devotion to the marriage. That means all your energy and thoughts. None of us does this one 100%, but it should be the objective of both partners. This level of commitment brings security and confidence to the marriage and to one's spouse.

The third reason marriages struggle on the list is lack of unity of purpose. Rasmussen says he’s worked with very few marriages where the two partners actually knew what each other wanted and had put together a plan for achieving it. He explains, "Most of the time we just go into marriage thinking it is going to work out and never really know what that means to each other. You wouldn't do that if you were starting a business or some other venture with a partner. If you did you can be sure that it would fail. Just like we have a business plan, couples would do well to have a marriage plan."

The fourth reason for struggling couples Rasmussen has seen is the search for reciprocity rather than striving for mutuality. He says the general consensus in society is that there has to be give and take in order for a marriage to work. While he doesn't disagree with that, he many have been using the wrong approach to give and take.

The other reasons for struggling marriages that make up his "Big 8" list include: 5), not understanding the nature and dynamics of true intimacy; 6), not understanding the nature of real love; 7) aversion to discomfort; and 8) not working to be friends.

Dr. Rasmussen has been working with couples in the therapy world for over 14 years. His research and hands-on experience has led to the creation of the new Romantic Rendezvous Home Edition DVD series available through IntraLife Systems. ( The "Big 8" reasons for struggling marriages are discussed at length in the new Home Edition, along with solutions on how couples can address them in their marriage and relationships.

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