Why do certain marriages end when they don’t have to?
By Katrina Caruso
While the divorce rate among younger people has been declining, the number of divorces among Americans 50 or older has doubled since the 1990s, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. Among those 65-plus, the number has tripled. For folks over 65 years old, the number has almost tripled.
Why do marriages end? And what can you do to avoid this from happening?
The empty nest can have something to do with it. When the kids are all gone, couples can find themselves looking at themselves more closely after years of focusing all their energies on raising a child or children. During those years, it can be easier to avoid addressing issues and to sweep them under the rug. Later, though, married people may start asking themselves difficult questions—the most common being, Am I happy?
Retirement can create problems, too, as a couple begins to spend more time together.
Reinvigorating a Marriage
The path to reinvigorating a marriage isn’t short. It takes a lot of communication (including asking all those questions you don’t know if you want the answers to), complete openness and honesty (especially in response to all those big questions), and a mutual decision to continue to choose each other, even when the going gets tough. You may have to get to know your partner again: who is that person after all these years? After all, you’ve both grown. It’s time to build a new future together, to make decisions together about what you want your future to look like.
This can be the time to go away together, even if it’s only for a weekend getaway. Try something new together: join a cooking class, take up a new sport, buy a Groupon for a helicopter ride… basically, do something you’ve never done but always wanted to do, do it together, and begin building memories together. Get creative and experiment!
Marriage counselling isn’t just for couples in a crisis—an objective third party can help you spot problems and find solutions.
If you’re not ready to opt for marriage counselling but want a push to get started, try listening to relationship-expert psychotherapist Esther Perel’s podcast, Where Should We Begin?, which features therapy sessions between Perel and a couple. Her speciality is infidelity, but you can glean a lot of insight from the podcast whether this is a problem for you and your partner or not. You can find the episodes on podcast apps or on her website. Perel is currently taking applications for the podcast’s Season 3.
For a short introduction to Perel’s work and perspective, you can watch her TED Talk “Rethinking infidelity… a talk for anyone who has ever been in love” here.
If you prefer books over podcasts and videos, Perel published a popular book, Mating in Captivity, in 2007 and The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity last October.