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10 Root Causes of Divorce in Kenya

Untangling the Knot: 10 Root Causes of Divorce in Kenya

By alex kimuyuPublished 4 months ago 4 min read
 10 Root Causes of Divorce in Kenya
Photo by Julien L on Unsplash

Divorce rates in Kenya have been on the rise, reflecting shifting societal norms and dynamics. While divorce is a complex issue influenced by various factors, here we unravel the top 10 root causes contributing to marital dissolution in Kenya.

Economic Strain:

Financial difficulties often strain marriages, leading to conflicts over money management, lack of financial stability, and differing financial goals. In Kenya, economic challenges can exacerbate marital stress, especially in households facing unemployment or low income. The inability to meet basic needs and provide for the family can lead to feelings of inadequacy and tension between spouses, ultimately culminating in divorce.

Communication Breakdown:

Effective communication is the cornerstone of a healthy marriage. However, misunderstandings, poor communication skills, and lack of openness can create rifts between spouses. In Kenya, cultural barriers, such as gender roles and hierarchical family structures, may inhibit open communication between partners. Additionally, language barriers and differing communication styles can further complicate matters, making it challenging for couples to resolve conflicts and maintain intimacy.

Cultural Expectations:

Traditional gender roles and societal expectations regarding marriage can place significant pressure on couples. In Kenya, patriarchal norms often dictate gender roles within the family, with men expected to be the primary breadwinners and decision-makers. Conflicts may arise when spouses struggle to reconcile these cultural norms with their individual aspirations and modern realities. Women, in particular, may face societal scrutiny and backlash for challenging traditional gender roles, leading to marital discord and, in some cases, divorce.


Extramarital affairs can deeply fracture trust and intimacy within a marriage. While infidelity is a universal challenge in relationships, cultural attitudes towards it and societal norms regarding fidelity may influence its prevalence in Kenya. Infidelity may be viewed as a violation of marital vows and a betrayal of trust, leading to feelings of anger, resentment, and disillusionment. In cases where infidelity is discovered, couples may struggle to rebuild trust and repair the damage done to their relationship, often resulting in divorce.

Unrealistic Expectations:

Unrealistic expectations about marriage, often shaped by media portrayals or societal pressures, can set couples up for disappointment. In Kenya, societal expectations regarding marriage, such as the belief that marriage will bring happiness and fulfillment, may contribute to unrealistic expectations among couples. When reality fails to meet these lofty ideals, spouses may grow disillusioned and seek separation in search of greener pastures.

Lack of Conflict Resolution Skills:

Every relationship encounters conflicts, but the ability to resolve them constructively is crucial for marital harmony. In Kenya, couples may lack the necessary conflict resolution skills, leading to unresolved disputes that simmer and eventually contribute to marital breakdown. Factors such as cultural taboos surrounding open confrontation and the stigmatization of seeking outside help may prevent couples from effectively addressing their conflicts, resulting in prolonged marital discord and, ultimately, divorce.


Compatibility encompasses various aspects, including personality traits, values, and goals. When couples discover significant incompatibilities after marriage, it can strain the relationship and ultimately lead to divorce. In Kenya, arranged marriages and societal pressure to marry within one's community or social class may result in couples entering into marriages without fully assessing their compatibility. Over time, differences in values, interests, and life goals may emerge, leading to marital dissatisfaction and the eventual dissolution of the marriage.

Domestic Violence:

Domestic violence, including physical, emotional, or psychological abuse, is a pervasive issue that can compel spouses to seek divorce as a means of escaping harmful situations. In Kenya, gender-based violence remains a significant concern, with women being disproportionately affected. Addressing domestic violence requires comprehensive interventions aimed at prevention, including legal reforms, public awareness campaigns, and support services for survivors. Additionally, efforts to challenge traditional gender norms and promote gender equality are essential for preventing domestic violence and creating safer environments for couples and families.

Substance Abuse:

Substance abuse, including alcohol and drug addiction, can profoundly impact marital relationships. Addiction can lead to erratic behavior, financial instability, and breakdowns in trust, often culminating in divorce if left unaddressed. In Kenya, alcohol abuse is particularly prevalent, with cultural norms surrounding alcohol consumption contributing to its widespread use. Couples grappling with substance abuse may find it challenging to maintain healthy relationships, as addiction can take precedence over family responsibilities and emotional intimacy.

Legal and Social Stigma:

Inadequate legal frameworks, coupled with social stigma surrounding divorce, can deter couples from seeking separation even in untenable circumstances. In Kenya, the legal process of obtaining a divorce can be lengthy, expensive, and emotionally taxing, particularly for women. Additionally, societal pressure to maintain the facade of a happy marriage may prevent couples from acknowledging and addressing marital problems, further perpetuating marital dissatisfaction and discord.

In conclusion, divorce in Kenya is influenced by a myriad of interconnected factors, ranging from economic strain and communication breakdowns to cultural expectations and domestic violence. Addressing these root causes requires a multi-faceted approach encompassing economic empowerment, education on healthy relationships, legal reforms, and support services for couples in distress. By understanding and addressing these underlying issues, we can work towards fostering healthier and more resilient marriages in Kenya.

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    AKWritten by alex kimuyu

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