Weathering Change In Your Marriage
I am regularly asked, “Why is the divorce rate so high?” With 50 percent of first marriages ending in divorce, obviously this is a question that many people ponder.
Many people tell me their marriage ended because they “grew apart” from their spouse. Since this is a very common problem, let’s spend some time discussing it so you won’t fall into this trap.
I love to read the wedding announcements in my local paper. Today, folks still tend to marry young. The wedding announcements in New York City, where I live, regularly introduce me to fresh-faced couples who are filled with optimism. Their average age ranges from mid- 20s into early 30s. When traveling to smaller metropolises, I notice that people marry even younger. This being the case, I often speculate on how these youthful couples will weather both life’s and marriage’s inevitable storms.
Let’s face it—people change. As a relationship therapist, I believe that healthy growth and change is very positive; in fact, it’s something we should all strive for. Truth be told, you are not supposed to be the same person at 40 or 50 that you were at 30. As we age, we should develop new hobbies, friendships, and passions. Some people completely switch their careers or even shed their former image. So if change is inevitable, how does a couple grow together in a way that is productive for their marriage?
Personally, I think this is a question that all couples should discuss during their engagement and revisit periodically over the course of their marriage.
For example, many young couples bond over similar hobbies and pursuits, which brings them together in the first place. Yet, as you may expect, over time, one or both will discover new interests, and maybe those new interests will not be shared by their partner. This is perfectly normal and if handled wisely, this scenario can actually add dimension to a couple’s life.
If you’ve just joined a book club, and your husband isn’t a big reader—this doesn’t have to be an excuse to grow apart. Note that you can and should share your newfound hobby with him. You can describe your book club event, educate him about what you have learned about a particular author, and you can even give him a synopsis on the book you are reading (in fact, reading out loud to your partner in bed is a great way to foster intimacy). This sort of mature dialogue encourages couples to share their lives with each other, and sharing creates a stronger love bond.
Problems arise when couples take divergent paths without disclosing what is going on in their individual lives. And too much of this pattern can make a couple grow apart and forget what joined them together in the first place.
So remember that change in a marriage can be a very positive thing. The more you do as an individual the more you learn, plus you enhance your confidence, which is a very good thing. Just be aware that you are part of a couple and that discussing change and growth in each other’s life is a very positive thing.