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Preventing Divorce after Decades of Marriage

March 23, 2016 | by Slovie Jungreis-Wolff

3 steps to work on before it’s too late.

After decades of marriage, couples are splitting up later in life. Experts call this ‘grey divorce’ and tell us that one in four divorces in the U.S. occurs among people ages 50 and above.

No matter your age, it would be wise to understand why this is happening and contemplate protecting your relationship.

Writing for the Huffington Post, Linda Melone delineates five reasons couples divorce after decades of marriage.

1. They Grow Apart

Instead of coming closer there are couples who have simply grown distant from one another. There was no sudden blowup, rather it’s as if there are tiny fissures unseen that have been created over time. You don’t realize that this is happening but there comes a point that the relationship has been terribly weakened and cannot be resuscitated. Experts say that often it is a one sided emotion where one spouse feels that the relationship has been unbalanced for years. Many times it is a wife who feels as if she has put her life aside for the sake of others. She has not felt supported emotionally and is weary.

2. Age

Age that was not looked at as an issue when a couple got married now becomes a cause for division. It can be a big age difference that was overlooked years before but is now a source of tension. Sometimes an individual arrives at middle age and doesn’t know how to handle this next stage of life. Instead of being able to move forward, one has an urge to go back in time. Mistakes are made without thinking.

3. Boredom

Complacency becomes a major factor that leads to boredom in a relationship. When we take our spouse for granted because they’ve been with us for years we stop appreciating them. We start thinking that our lives are routine and yearn for some excitement. Some of us grow tired of the lack of stimulation and excitement. The passion has been lost. Meals are spent in silence. Days become long. Homes become cold caverns. And many husbands and wives stop trying. They don’t take good care of themselves and have stopped putting energy into their conversation.

4. Money Issues

Years of conflicting spending and saving habits finally cause a couple to face their differences head on. One is a lavish spender while the other enjoys watching a bank account grow. The two cannot find a way to live together. There can also be an accumulation of expenses, children’s college tuitions, young adults who are dependent and living at home or requiring money, as well as unexpected situations that eat away at marital peace. Stress does not allow the husband and wife to enjoy this time that they had looked forward to, in their younger years, together.

5. Intimacy

Men and woman face hormonal changes that influence their emotions, mental health and physical needs. Not being on the same page or dealing with moodiness and tiredness takes a real toll on the relationship. Feeling that they are more distant than ever, husbands and wives grapple with a relationship that feels empty. Not seeing hope for the future, they instead contemplate divorce.

3 Ways to Strengthen Your Bond

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is shalom bayit – peace in the home. Knowing that there are couples who have been together for years who are now losing their marriages can be a wakeup call. There is no taking a relationship for granted. Husbands and wives regardless of age or years married should think about strengthening their bond while guarding their love. Here are real keys to making your marriage last.

1. Be Present

If we put all our energy into our jobs, our children, our friends, and our gym workout there is not much left for our spouse. Years go by and we don’t realize how much time together we have missed. Beyond being sure that we are present physically, we must also concentrate on connecting emotionally.

Just because you are married doesn’t mean that you don’t feel lonely. There are husbands and wives who believe that their spouses are there for the world but never for them. They hear accolades from office mates, friends or community leaders but inside their hearts they feel neglected both emotionally and physically.

Being present also means that we put down our iPhones and let our spouses know that we are engaged. Having a conversation without eye contact is disrespectful to the relationship. The message is clear- the text or Instagram account I am looking at is more interesting to me than you. Let’s try to fix these cracks before it is too late. Show that you don’t take your spouse for granted.

2. Find the Passion

Ask yourself: what you can do to keep the spark of romance alive? We hardly look at ourselves and are quick to blame others. Decide now that you will be the initiator. You be the one to plan a night out, surprise your spouse with loving notes and texts, attend a class you’ve never gone to before, or think of an activity you can both do that will bring new energy and laughter to your day. If you feel as if you have fallen into a routine (and all couples do sometimes) don’t just sit back. Be proactive in strengthening your love.

3. Communicate Effectively

When we keep our emotions bottled inside or speak with sarcasm and negativity, we stop communicating effectively. Negativity creeps in and destroys our bond. Over years the damage done can make our love wither and die. There is no such thing as never disagreeing but we must concentrate on communicating our thoughts effectively. Spouses who keep score, who would rather be right than happy, refuse to give in, freeze the other out or devastate through words and actions do not begin to understand the damage caused. It’s crucial to think about the way we speak to one another, both in good times and in times of challenge. Respectful communication brings us closer. Look, too, for moments to show kindness both through words and actions.

If we take the time to think positively about our husbands and wives and all the good that marriage brings, we can actively create a lifetime of love and commitment.

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