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Preventing Divorce after Decades of Marriage

Preventing Divorce after Decades of Marriage

3 steps to work on before it’s too late.


After decades of marriage, couples are splitting up later in life. Experts call this ‘grey divorce’ and tell us that one in four divorces in the U.S. occurs among people ages 50 and above.

No matter your age, it would be wise to understand why this is happening and contemplate protecting your relationship.

Writing for the Huffington Post, Linda Melone delineates five reasons couples divorce after decades of marriage.

1. They Grow Apart

Instead of coming closer there are couples who have simply grown distant from one another. There was no sudden blowup, rather it’s as if there are tiny fissures unseen that have been created over time. You don’t realize that this is happening but there comes a point that the relationship has been terribly weakened and cannot be resuscitated. Experts say that often it is a one sided emotion where one spouse feels that the relationship has been unbalanced for years. Many times it is a wife who feels as if she has put her life aside for the sake of others. She has not felt supported emotionally and is weary.

2. Age

Age that was not looked at as an issue when a couple got married now becomes a cause for division. It can be a big age difference that was overlooked years before but is now a source of tension. Sometimes an individual arrives at middle age and doesn’t know how to handle this next stage of life. Instead of being able to move forward, one has an urge to go back in time. Mistakes are made without thinking.

3. Boredom

Complacency becomes a major factor that leads to boredom in a relationship. When we take our spouse for granted because they’ve been with us for years we stop appreciating them. We start thinking that our lives are routine and yearn for some excitement. Some of us grow tired of the lack of stimulation and excitement. The passion has been lost. Meals are spent in silence. Days become long. Homes become cold caverns. And many husbands and wives stop trying. They don’t take good care of themselves and have stopped putting energy into their conversation.

4. Money Issues

Years of conflicting spending and saving habits finally cause a couple to face their differences head on. One is a lavish spender while the other enjoys watching a bank account grow. The two cannot find a way to live together. There can also be an accumulation of expenses, children’s college tuitions, young adults who are dependent and living at home or requiring money, as well as unexpected situations that eat away at marital peace. Stress does not allow the husband and wife to enjoy this time that they had looked forward to, in their younger years, together.

5. Intimacy

Men and woman face hormonal changes that influence their emotions, mental health and physical needs. Not being on the same page or dealing with moodiness and tiredness takes a real toll on the relationship. Feeling that they are more distant than ever, husbands and wives grapple with a relationship that feels empty. Not seeing hope for the future, they instead contemplate divorce.

3 Ways to Strengthen Your Bond

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is shalom bayit – peace in the home. Knowing that there are couples who have been together for years who are now losing their marriages can be a wakeup call. There is no taking a relationship for granted. Husbands and wives regardless of age or years married should think about strengthening their bond while guarding their love. Here are real keys to making your marriage last.

1. Be Present

If we put all our energy into our jobs, our children, our friends, and our gym workout there is not much left for our spouse. Years go by and we don’t realize how much time together we have missed. Beyond being sure that we are present physically, we must also concentrate on connecting emotionally.

Just because you are married doesn’t mean that you don’t feel lonely. There are husbands and wives who believe that their spouses are there for the world but never for them. They hear accolades from office mates, friends or community leaders but inside their hearts they feel neglected both emotionally and physically.

Being present also means that we put down our iPhones and let our spouses know that we are engaged. Having a conversation without eye contact is disrespectful to the relationship. The message is clear- the text or Instagram account I am looking at is more interesting to me than you. Let’s try to fix these cracks before it is too late. Show that you don’t take your spouse for granted.

2. Find the Passion

Ask yourself: what you can do to keep the spark of romance alive? We hardly look at ourselves and are quick to blame others. Decide now that you will be the initiator. You be the one to plan a night out, surprise your spouse with loving notes and texts, attend a class you’ve never gone to before, or think of an activity you can both do that will bring new energy and laughter to your day. If you feel as if you have fallen into a routine (and all couples do sometimes) don’t just sit back. Be proactive in strengthening your love.

3. Communicate Effectively

When we keep our emotions bottled inside or speak with sarcasm and negativity, we stop communicating effectively. Negativity creeps in and destroys our bond. Over years the damage done can make our love wither and die. There is no such thing as never disagreeing but we must concentrate on communicating our thoughts effectively. Spouses who keep score, who would rather be right than happy, refuse to give in, freeze the other out or devastate through words and actions do not begin to understand the damage caused. It’s crucial to think about the way we speak to one another, both in good times and in times of challenge. Respectful communication brings us closer. Look, too, for moments to show kindness both through words and actions.

If we take the time to think positively about our husbands and wives and all the good that marriage brings, we can actively create a lifetime of love and commitment.

March 26, 2016

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 7

(5) John Hughes, April 3, 2016 12:38 AM

Hi Slovie , Thank you for always sharing your words of wisdom . It's always good to get a reminder and suggestions on how to keep a marriage strong and healthy. It wasn't long ago that my marriage wasn't what it should have been and I can't thank you enough for the words of wisdom I received when you brought a book written by your mother . Your suggestions speak for themselves . If followed they definitely will lead to positive results. Everytime you share your stories I learn something to incorporate in my daily life for that I am grateful . Keep helping me learn and grow . Thank you

(4) Stan Shaffer, April 1, 2016 9:06 PM

Shalom bayit

What a beautiful world it could be if more of us found solace in those words.

(3) Anonymous, March 31, 2016 3:50 AM

Postponing Divorce

Sometimes we postpone divorce until after most or all of the kids are grown in order for one parent to be a stabilizing influence in their lives 24/7. My husband was an alcoholic and refused counseling. I spent years in counseling trying to deal with his issues and ultimately, I did divorce him after most of the kids were out of the house and had only 1 teen at home. I just couldn't stand the smell of vodka anymore or I would have waited longer. There had been nothing pleasant between us for over 20 years and he seemed to have lost all interest in Judaism. I know it upset my children and they did hover over him for several years because they felt a responsibility towards him-he didn't cook or do laundry. Eventually he remarried and they re-established their relationship with me. I never spoke badly of him. And surprisingly, they did understand why I couldn't live with him anymore. They knew he drank every evening when he was in town. So they didn't blame me at all. It was just a sad time for all of us. A therapist I was seeing prior to my decision to divorce said, "an 'I' cannot repair an 'US' situation and 'WE' both needed to be present.

(2) Grampy David, March 28, 2016 1:47 AM

To much Psycho-Babble

My wife and I have been married 53 years. 3 of those years I was away in Vietnam. She was Catholic, I am Jewish. She is Cuban and I am Ashkenazi (Russia/Poland). But we survived and raised a great family, are still together, and still read to each other each night. Do we fight? Of course we do. But,we fight over a problem not over each other's habits or idiosyncrasies. The real problem is the simple fact that it is too easy to divorce. In our over permissive society, if folks don't get their way, they leave, regardless of age. Anyway, that's my opinion.

(1) Lisa, March 27, 2016 11:08 AM

Mental Illness might creep in...

Or all of a sudden the man has a case of P/A ( passive aggressive ) behavior. I am living that now. This condition slowly turns into financial abuse. Not pretty. Then anger. Maybe it's uncontrollable. So it's not always that we spent too much time at work or on our iPhones.

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