Your job seemed very solid when you got married, but the company has not been thriving in recent years. They decide that they have to downsize, and you get laid off. There is an obvious economic impact but is that job loss also going to take a toll on your marriage?

It very well could. In fact, Harvard researchers once said that job loss was the top reason that couples split up, that it was the factor that had the biggest influence on whether or not they got divorced. Even if you dispute those results by claiming that it’s not the No. 1 reason for divorce, it’s clear that it still plays a large role.

In some senses, it just comes back to financial tension. Couples are often said to argue about money more than anything. We know that debt creates stress, as does financial instability.

You may not have felt like you and your spouse had much to argue about before, but losing your income can stress your relationship and create conflicts over how money should be spent. Your spouse may blame you for the reduction in financial freedom — even though, in this example, it wasn’t your fault — or you may find yourself feeling pressure to provide in a way you never have before.

The pressure just continues to mount if you are unable to find another job. Some couples are able to make it work for a few months or even years, but they eventually reach the breaking point if nothing changes.

If you and your spouse do agree to go your separate ways, you need to know what legal steps to take.