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Infidelity no longer top cause of divorce: survey

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Move over infidelity, there's a new relationship destroyer in town.

According to a 2011 U.K. survey, the No. 1 reason why couples divorce is that they fall out of love – marking the first time extramarital affairs didn't land the top spot since the poll began eight years ago.

The top five reasons in the 2011 matrimonial survey, conducted by Grant Thornton UK LLP are: falling out of love (27 per cent), extramarital affair (25 per cent), unreasonable behaviour (17 per cent), midlife crisis (10 per cent) and emotional/physical abuse (6 per cent).

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What the numbers (based on information from 101 of the United Kingdom's leading family lawyers) seem to suggest is that couples are more willing to work through a sexual tryst than try to resuscitate a loveless relationship.

"The movement in the reasons for divorce is interesting and certainly difficult to explain. We are seeing an increasing number of 'celebrities' putting up with alleged affairs in their marriage or relationship," said Louisa Plum, an associate director with Grant Thornton, in a report. "… It may be that this is starting to have an effect on the behaviour of couples affected by extramarital affairs, with more marriages than before surviving a bout of infidelity."

(Ms. Plum does not remark on the fact that such celebrity couples have huge incentives to do so, like money, fame and power.)

While many news media outlets are making the dethroning of infidelity into a big story, one couples counsellor told the Telegraph that growing apart is a common trap in many modern relationships because both partners are multitasking constantly, sometimes letting the health of the relationship suffer.

"What's normally the case is that their relationship has slid down their list of priorities, replaced by the pressures of work, money worries or raising a family," Christine Northam said. "Relationships need attention and time to nurture otherwise couples can easily drift apart."

What the survey doesn't explain is that, if falling out of love is the No. 1 reason, why do so many divorces happen in September and January – presumably just after couples have spent lots of time together on vacation?

Do you think an affair is reason to end a relationship – or would you be willing to work through it in certain circumstances?

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About the Author

Madeleine White is the Assistant National Editor for The Globe and Mail. She has been with the Globe since 2011 and previously worked in the Globe's Video and Features departments, covering topics ranging from fitness and health to real estate to indigenous education. More

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