The scenario baffles many of us. The perfect couple that spends decades cultivating the perfect “picket fence” life, ends the marriage on the cusp of the golden years. Friends and family wonder, “What just happened?” Many folks who are “once removed” from the couple’s inner circle start to gossip about all the potential causes of the disillusionment of marriage. Was one of them cheating? Is he gay? Are they fighting over money? Was the marriage all about the children?
It’s a sad scenario, but it happens. The most “seasoned” couples can watch their once vigorous marriage decline into oblivion. The question is, were there signs that the end was near? Absolutely. Read on to discover some of the big reasons that seasoned couples decide to go their separate ways.
The Walls Are Closing In
Sometimes couples in a long-term relationship feel constrained by the enduring dynamics of the relationship. Partners may feel that they are holding one another back from self-actualization. Yes, there are times that individuals in an enduring union feel like they cannot take further steps together, and would be healthier parting ways. Freedom comes at a steep price when it means the end of a relationship that’s been affirming and sustaining for decades.
It’s been said that communication isn’t merely talking to your partner, but rather understanding their point of view and vision for life. When understanding and an awareness of vision are no longer present in the relationship, the relationship will eventually wither and die. We the communication problems are the result of a stroke or another debilitating medical condition, the agony of “ending” can be even more pronounced.
Let’s be honest. “Till Death Do us Part” is a tall order. It’s hard to imagine that this ideal is tested in healthy marriages, but it is. When retirement, a job loss, or chronic illness sets in, we hope that our intimate partner will help us navigate the uncertainty and the change. That doesn’t always happen. On some occasions, our beloved ones “have had enough” and choose to step away from the connection. For the partner that remained committed to the relationship, priorities and expectations must be reconsidered as well.
The Dreaded Change in Lifestyle
So you reach the “Golden Years” of earning. Armed with a big position and an equally large salary, you find yourself on the top of your financial game. Your beloved gets use to the cruises, the Cadillacs and all the amazing discretionary income. Suddenly, the economy tanks and your wonderful job sinks with it. Many marriages cannot survive the abrupt decline in income and the related lifestyle change. Yours may not survive it. But if it your relationship strength is judged by your earnings, was the relationship worth the time and effort in the first place?
The Breach of Trust
It may begin with a series of late nights at the office. A spouse notices that strange charges are appearing on the American Express, and the cell phone record is polluted with unknown numbers. As one partner’s suspicions grow, even the most battle-hardened relationships can suffer. If the offending spouse is not willing to work on the issues that led to the breach of trust, it may all be over.
Some partners have a second spouse – THE JOB – or a hobby that becomes time-consuming and intimacy-challenging. Sometimes, on the other hand, the spouse that feels like a victim to the workaholic may be overstating the depth of the problem. Yes, jealousy can be a problem in seasoned marriages if one or both partners suffers from a heavy dose of insecurity. Sometimes the resulting jealousy can make the loving exchange of time and information an utter impossibility. Jealousy is a marriage killer for marriages of all durations.
The Empty Nest
Kids get older and, hopefully, leave their family of origin to begin a life of their own accord. Many couples, while missing the days when the kids were at home, welcome the empty nest enthusiastically. Other couples discover that they invested so much of their time and effort on the kids that they do not know how to function as a pair anymore. This can be a traumatic discovery for a family, but it happens more often than you would think. It’s hard to reinvent the marriage several decades into the relationship. With the kids out of the picture to soften the reality of a couple that’s not really coupled, the relationship will decay. Adopting kids or pouring one’s self into grandkids will not heal the core issue… We don’t know how to be together.
People change. We are dynamic, evolving, malleable creatures. Inasmuch, our relationships must change with us or they will disintegrate. It happens more often than you think. While personality changes and the resultant potential of conflict are often the offspring of organic causes – aging, dementia, education – there are some external causes too. For instance, a personality conflict may arise over issues like politics, aging parents, or how to deal with a troubled adult child. When we don’t see eye-to-eye on the defining issues of our life together, we may turn on each other.
Read More: 10 Most Common Reasons for Divorce
Even seasoned marriages can die a late-stage death. While still much rarer than early-stage divorces, the late divorce is every bit as devastating. In fact, older couples may not have the physical and emotional reserves to fully recover from the loss. Surround yourself with caring professionals.