Gray Divorce is a relatively new term that applies to couples who divorce after twenty or more years of marriage. The crisis may arise when the children grow up. An empty nest signifies the absence of shared responsibilities that keep them functioning as a team. With or without children, they no longer find satisfaction in being together. As a result, they may begin to feel like strangers.
Is that what you’re thinking? Believing? You no longer enjoy the same activities. Maybe even your politics have divided you! You struggle to think of things you admire in each other. Perhaps you fight over inconsequential things. Meanwhile, you fantasize about what life might be like on your own. Happier alone without “taking care of” your current partner? You seek out and feed your fantasies on stories of others who left an unhappy marriage and found the “love of their life” to share their golden years.
What Created This Condition that Leads to Gray Divorce?
How can a relationship that started with such promise, hope, and deeply loving feelings deteriorate to this state of being strangers? A gray divorce happens after taking each other for granted, one day after another, one year after another. One date night missed. One lack of expressing appreciation neglected. A romantic get-away is cancelled. Choosing to focus more on your children or career ahead of the needs of your marriage. Important topics of conversation are postponed indefinitely. Issues are swept under the rug. Eventually, resentment builds distance between you.
Marriage is a Living Entity!
Neglecting to care for your children can lead to imprisonment. Your HOA may warn or fine you if you neglect maintaining your yard. A boss may deliver a pink slip if you are not doing your job. You car will stop running without gas or regular oil changes. Plants die if they aren’t watered. But when your partner complains, you don’t address the issue, so the complaints slowly disappear in a fog of discouragement. Marriage is a living entity formed between you that requires regular contributions from both persons that keep it nurtured, alive, and vibrant.
Marriage Maintenance Habits to Avoid Gray Divorce
There are a few simple habits that are characteristic of every lasting, loving marriage I’ve observed. One: Couples treat each other with respect and kindness. Two: Lasting couples work out their differences so that both persons’ needs are met. Three: Happy aging couples remain affectionate with each other…they never quit cuddling or holding hands. Four: Happy aging couples allow each other to be individuals, but also cultivate activities that both enjoy doing together. Five: Couples who last the distance, have the courage to explore the last years of their partnership with curiosity. Perhaps they see a couples’ therapist together. Maybe they learn to communicate more vulnerably by sharing their desires for this final season of their partnership.
This Valentine’s Day commit to nurture your marriage every day…not just February 14th!
You have my love and support,