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Can extreme exercise become a factor when considering a divorce?

It can be difficult to determine exactly what serves as the impetus for a particular couple to decide on divorce. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal looked at one particularly interesting factor that can drive couples apart and, over time, can lead to separation or divorce: extreme exercise.

Typically, endurance athletes are among those most likely to participate in extreme forms of exercise, such as hours of workouts and participation in out-of-town events like triathlons and marathons. One marriage counselor noted that more and more couples are seeking therapy for problems connected to extreme exercise. But can this really lead to divorce?

Though it is not clear exactly how divorce and extreme exercise are correlated, the article gives some examples of how extreme exercise can drive a wedge between married couples:

  • Time commitment -- when one spouse is training for an event, it often means less time spent with family and more time working out
  • Insecurity -- having a spouse who is in peak physical condition can cause the other spouse to feel insecure about his or her own physique
  • More alternatives -- as one spouse spends more time with other individuals who share their passion for extreme exercise, he or she may find become attracted to people other than the spouse

For some couples, these factors can weaken the commitment in a marriage and ultimately lead to the decision to separate. In an example from the article, one husband and wife are constantly dealing with the husband's intense exercise habits and how much it takes him away from their family time together. What became difficult for the wife was being supportive of her husband but also trying to ensure that he spent enough time with her and their three children.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "A Workout Ate My Marriage," Kevin Helliker, February 1, 2011

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