It’s a familiar story- a couple has been married for fifteen to twenty years and eventually decides to split. Sometimes it’s from infidelity; but according to an AARP Sex, Romance and Relationships Survey on the sexuality of people 45 and older, extramarital affairs are only the cause of a split for a relatively small number of couples. So if infidelity is not the reason, why are so many couples calling it quits after years of marriage?
According to experts, the reasons may be far less interesting. Many couples report their marriage didn’t suddenly fail, more likely the relationship had been in decline for many years. Others report they have always had problems but a sudden life change, such as a severe health condition, unemployment or children leaving the home caused the marriage to end. Experts contend that the balance they may have been able to achieve becomes more tenuous when stressors exist, allowing the relationships to break.
Couples also may simply grow apart. Over the years it’s not uncommon for many couples to live increasingly separate lives. Whether it’s because they both work too much, travel alone, devote too much time to the kids and too little time on their relationship, without nurturing a marriage it deteriorates.
Ways to save your marriage
It’s not surprising to find that couples who go the distance have several things in common. So what do you need to do to help your marriage last?
Have fun together
The first step to saving your marriage is to have fun together. Whether it’s learning a new hobby, travelling more, or simply sitting and enjoying a nice cup of coffee together, if you are having fun with your spouse the enjoyment you share together will have a positive effect on the rest of your life. It will also increase conversational opportunities and improve your mood.
Stop controlling each other
My husband and I have a commitment not to control each other. He wants to go to a basketball game, I tell him to go and have a good time. You want to spend more time with friends? Great, have fun honey. Let go of the toxins polluting your marriage: the grudges, the eye rolls and name-calling. Don’t make him feel bad if he wants some time with his buddies, even if it means you are on extra “kid duty.”
If you allow your spouse time to do some things that make them happy, without any guilt, they won’t feel as tired, overwhelmed or stressed. Pay attention to what makes each of you happy and don’t feel selfish about doing something that is good for you.
Learn to listen to each other
My contention is that the DVR was created so my husband could look at me when I talk to him. Even if you have been married a long time it’s important to really hear your spouse. Listen to your spouse and allow them the opportunity to tell you what is on their mind. Repeat what you heard your spouse say. For instance, “I think I heard you say that when I don’t look at you when you talk to me that makes you feel like I don’t care.” Allow your spouse time to clarify any misunderstandings. Do this without criticism and judgment. It really does help.
Marriage is hard work. Look at successful couples and ask them what they have done to make their marriage great. Never give up trying to make your marriage better.
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