Keeping marriage going strong into your golden years
The trend of long-married couples calling it quits has been growing. However, there are some steps couples can take to keep their relationships going strong.
According to the AARP, divorces among people over the age of 50 have doubled since 1990. According to Susan Brown, codirector of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, one out of three Boomers will face their golden years unmarried.
There are a number of reasons why divorce rates have skyrocketed among the over-50 set. Understanding just why these divorces are taking place and taking proactive steps to alleviate some of the divorce triggers can be a recipe for a happy marriage that continues throughout a couple's golden years.
• Increase accountability. Ours is a transient society where families no longer bat an eyelash over moving great distances away from other family members. As a result, Boomers may feel like they are not connected to children or grandchildren. With this in mind, they may feel less attached to their marriage or their responsibilities or believe that no one will get hurt by a divorce. Keeping families close and remaining in frequent contact can increase accountability and reduce the propensity for divorce.
• Get things out in the open. A major reason for a failed marriage is years of avoiding significant issues rather than addressing problems. Couples should make time to talk to each other about anything that might be bothering them rather than letting too many things slide. If these conversations turn into shouting matches, there is always the option of bringing in a third party to serve as a mediator.
• Spend time apart. After retirement, couples may find themselves spending hours upon hours in each other's company. While togetherness can be beneficial, too much time spent together may lead to feelings of suffocation and the perception that each member of the relationship is no longer his or her own person. Individuals can remedy this by doing more things on their own, whether spending time apart with friends or engaging in hobby time without your spouse. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Brief periods of separation can make the time married couples do spend together feel more meaningful.
• Recommit to your vows. After 30 or more years, the vows you shared on your wedding may be a distant memory. Some people may have different views on the permanence of vows, putting personal happiness ahead of the happiness of the couple. Take stock of what you promised one another on your wedding day and stick to those words.
• Become a comedian. Laughter has a way of dissolving a tenuous situation. Focus energy on laughing at mistakes instead of pointing blame. Couples can make fun of themselves and resolve to not take things too seriously.
• Act like you're dating. Couples often become complacent after many years of marriage. They may forget about the little details that made the relationship fun in the early years. The personal notes and cards and other surprises may fall by the wayside after being together for some time. Make an effort to go on dates, write love notes and think of what was appreciated by your partners when you were in the dating stage.
• Practice selflessness. Sometimes all that is needed to rekindle a relationship is a selfless act that shows how much you care for your partner.
Couples who are on the fence with regard to divorce can make an effort to improve the relationship rather than simply see divorce as the best option.