Is there an age factor that influences when marriages break down?
I knew about the “seven-year itch” and a few of my friends did split up around that number of years together.
One was a husband who just walked out after the second child was born, and never saw his two sons again!
Another was the wife (no kids) who ran off with the golf instructor at her club.
I’m approaching 40 now, and I keep hearing about surprising break-ups between couples whom we knew a little and one close couple, and all had seemed fine together.
Is it age, or is it how we live?
A Little Worried
Stop right there. Listen to that thrumming in your head… and get serious, not just curious, about what keeps one couple together and splits up another, within your current age group.
Even if you vaguely feel that divorce is becoming more prevalent now, personal lives deal with specifics, not trends.
By 40, a couple may both be working, have a couple of young kids, and take a two-week vacation once a year. For some, it’s the busy, satisfying family life they both wanted.
But some others are restless, asking themselves, “Is that all there is?”
They may’ve achieved what they believed were their goals, but forgot to work on the relationship itself.
If they feel that “the marriage isn’t working,” then, rather than do the emotional soul-searching and discussing required by both parties (usually involving counselling), they convince themselves it’s better to just end it.
Also, the statistical fact that most 40-year-olds today, if healthy, can expect to live another 40 years, is another influence for envisioning a better “second time around,” with someone else, or single.
Even after 10 years of marriage, a couples’ lifestyle can be fairly predictable for at least 10 more years ahead.
So, if one partner is no longer satisfied with that routine, or the way a spouse handles it, or the different view that spouse has for their future… the differences may feel too large to overcome.
Since you asked the question, my answer now returns to you, personally: Divorce is neither a factor of “just age or how we live.”
It’s a choice - sometimes necessary, but never easy, especially if children are involved.
Get counselling about why you’re considering it, and about what else is happening in your life. Then start the conversation with your partner (couples counselling may help).
How do we share common space with strangers during a pandemic, and also stay safe?
My husband and I rented a cabin for one week, taking our three young daughters to a lake and green space, among similar rental cabins meant to sleep six people.
Two of the cabins are, instead, occupied by 16 people total, all mid-20s friends/family.
There are clear coronavirus-related rules: No common beach chairs, the playground’s closed, large commercial barbecues are locked away.
We’re to only use personal, small barbecues on our private patios, not on the common beach.
But this group carried barbecues and folding chairs to the beach, stayed all afternoon and evening, monopolizing the space and getting increasingly rowdy.
How can I convey, acceptably that we’re all here for the same purpose?
Speak up or Avoid Trouble?
Seek out the apparent group organizer. Be pleasant, polite, not angry.
Ask them to leave a space well apart from their group for your young kids, with parents present, to use the beach, too. Say they’ll be gone by evening. Smile.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who was upset because his girlfriend had lied about a relationship she had during the time of their breakup (June 27):
Reader – “Over the years, I’ve been continually puzzled by those wanting to know about their partners previous relationships.
“As a man with two marriages and several girlfriends in my past and present, I’ve learned about such matters, that rarely does any good come from a morbid curiosity about a partner’s past relationships.
“There is little satisfaction gained and it’s certainly not satisfying to think of a partner in any situation, social or sexual, with someone else.
“These are their private matters. And, sometimes a little white lie is for the better.
“If a partner with little sexual experience asks how many partners I have had, do I stroke my ego or, if I really love them, soothe their insecurities?”
A Mature and Loving Partner
Tip of the day:
Curious about friends’ divorces at 40? Look inward, then talk to your spouse about how you’re doing together.