Every day at work I hear all sorts of stories about people’s dysfunctional marriages, including all the lies, sex scandals, and drug or alcohol abuse, which are among the leading factors contributing to the demise of a marriage. This week, someone asked me what I thought was the number one reason for so many divorces, and his guess was either disagreements over finances or adultery. He was shocked to hear that in my opinion the top two contributors causing so many break ups are (1) unrealistic expectations and (2) poor coping skills for dealing with stress. Let’s take unrealistic expectations first– many people take their loved ones for granted. We all get tied up with work, our kids, other obligations, but you have to make your partner feel like a priority otherwise s/he will start to think that perhaps the grass is greener on the other side… And, here is a newsflash- in a world where most no longer believe in vows that say “til death do us part,” thinking you can slack off once you take that walk down the aisle is a big mistake. It used to be that only celebrities in Hollywood or politicians on the Hill were surrounded by temptation. Thanks to modern technology, that is no longer the case. You can have random strangers contact your spouse through chatrooms, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Someone who may not even be looking to make contact with others, may nonetheless receive an unsolicited invitation. Generally speaking, those that are happy in their relatioships will not stray; it is those that start to fantasize of ways to escape their misery that will wind up taking the bait. With respect to coping skills, I am truly not passing any judgment– these are incredibly stressful times. Very few people have guaranteed salaries anymore, and we have all seen once mighty companies collapse over night. Many have lost significant portions of their savings and home values, and of course, I see in a very real and raw way how the economy has hit everyone across the board, because divorce does not discriminate based on socio-economic class. Unfortunately, it is those that don’t find healthy ways of releasing stress that wind up in my office, where I then have to reassure them that their sordid tales of sex, lies and videotapes are normal– at least in my world. Thankfully, we have ways of keeping many details confidential and more importantly, encouraging people to get help– because in my opinion, it is less important to focus on our past, perhaps maladaptive behaviors, and instead far more constructive and productive to focus on solutions and moving forward.