Trying to piece together why Al and Tipper called it quits after 40 seemingly happy years together? Dr. Tina B. Tessina (aka "Dr. Romance"), psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, explains and offers some tips on how to avoid coming apart like the Gores.
Q: What are the most common causes of late-life divorce?
A: Couples who have been married for decades can take the relationship for granted, and focus elsewhere, like career or children, and either neglect the couple relationship, or build up resentment over time because they don't do the work to clear it out. It's also possible that couples who don't stay in intimate contact can grow apart and find they're focused on completely different things.
Q: Are the causes of late-life divorce often different than the causes at other stages of life/marriage?
A: Yes, it's often more ennui than fighting. It's boredom rather than stress. It's estrangement rather than hostility.
Q: Why are so many of them initiated by women?
A: Because late in life men become complacent, but after children are grown women want to restructure their lives.
Q: What advice would you offer a couple that wants to avoid struggling with their marriage in late life?
A: Unpack the baggage. If you have difficult events in your past, don't hide from them. Do your grieving, get therapy, work through whatever the issues were, learn the skills you needed then (like standing up for yourself, communicating effectively, setting boundaries, problem-solving) Whatever old wounds you refuse to deal with will come up in each new relationship until you figure them out, so do the work and don't put it off. It will hurt a lot less than you think, and take less time than you fear.
Dr. Romance's four simple steps to create a successful marriage:
1. Talk frequently and honestly to each other: Share your ideas and issues about sex, about anger, about disappointment, about your appreciation of each other, about the meaning of life, about everything. Regular talks about what's going on in the relationship mean problems, resentment and frustration don't get a chance to build. Every member of your family has a right to his or her opinion. Understanding what your child or spouse wants doesn't mean you agree, but your child should know why you're overriding his or her preferences. Regular family meetings - where everyone including the children expresses feelings, negative and positive, and all of you work together to solve problems - help you develop teamwork.
2. Create partnership: Strive to work together to solve anything that comes up and learn to be a team, a partnership. Don't get stuck on who's right or wrong. Instead, focus on what will solve the problem. If you focus on solutions instead of criticizing, you can have fun coming up with creative ideas. Use your business communication skills when solving problems.
3. Keep your connection going: Frequent communication, sex, affection, touching, understanding and concern for each other will keep the 'juice' flowing in your marriage, and keep it from getting stale. Brief separations will help you remember how important your connection is.
4. Be positive: Have a sense of humor, give each other the benefit of the doubt, care about each other. Laugh together as much as possible, and don't forget to appreciate each other. Motivation to stay together comes from appreciation and celebration.
vendredi 11 juin 2010
Divorce After 40 Years of Marriage: 4 Tips to Ensure it Doesn't Happen to You
By Sarah Treleaven, June 11th 2010 2:45 AM