What Holds Marriage Together In Middle-Age?

 

Cropped screenshot of Richard Burton and Eliza...
Cropped screenshot of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor from the trailer for the film Cleopatra. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We all know couples that we assumed would be together forever but who ended up in the divorce courts. And we’ve all watched those couples we decided had absolutely nothing in common, remain together.

So what are the secret ingredients that bind marriages together, even through middle-age, when the interest and lust of those early days has become tarnished by the pressures of real life?

It’s hardly surprising that the divorce rate increases annually, and it’s not a ‘modern’ problem necessarily. Couples had less choices in the past. Many women didn’t work and so were forced into dependence upon their spouses. Which is why men and women stuck their marriages out, no matter how stale the relationship might have become.

These days, we hear a lot more about the marriages that don’t work out than the marriages that do stand the test of time. Because some couples do manage to stay in love, in spite of the pressures of our modern-day existence.

My parents divorced when I was very young and so I approached my marriage with what I believed was a realistic attitude. I knew I would fight for my marriage but if it struggled and I couldn’t mend it, I was certain that I would walk away.

And as with most marriages, ours has experienced its ups and downs. Marriage is hard. As people, we continue to grow and evolve over time. We change in so many ways and the glue that once bound us together can become unstuck as our situations change over time. Those external pressures mould us, but not necessarily in tandem with our partners.

‘We just wanted different things,’ is a comment I hear a lot.

Humour is the glue in my marriage.

A week or so ago, the stars suddenly aligned and I found myself unexpectedly in a really happy place with my lot. And I felt the need to go forth and spread the word, to share my ‘happiness’ with my husband to see if he felt the same way.

Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: ‘Things are going pretty well at the moment. Kurt seems finally happy at school and for the time-being his depression seems under control, NC has found someone to discuss ‘rocks’ with, we all seem to have settled into Gotham City, and now that you’re able to exercise, even you seem to have a better approach to life.

(Gushing now) Isn’t it amazing how the pieces of a puzzle can finally come together? I’m enjoying my new job and I love the connections I have made from my writing – I’m even writing my book again. The move to the city has given us so much more in terms of things to do as a family.

LIFE FEELS REALLY GOOD!’

Husband: (deadpan): ‘I’m leaving you.’

‘Humour’ has always been the key to our relationship. What’s yours?

18 thoughts on “What Holds Marriage Together In Middle-Age?

  1. You’re English. It’s your perogative to moan. lol. And just for the record, marriage is, in fact, the number one cause of divorce… 😀

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  2. Humour goes a long way yes. At least laughter doesn’t sag or buckle or bulge.
    I’ve always thought that the most dangerous part of a marriage is when all the kids leave home. I’m dreading it to be honest. What will we SAY to each other?

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    1. Yes, we are warned about the empty-nest stage and I can already see some signs of unrest amongst friends. I don’t think you know if it will still work until you get there. We are already writing lists of topics to discuss.

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      1. We plan to travel, and we have a shared “hobby” – our candle making business.
        Perhaps it’s a matter of making more and more NEW experiences in which to have something to connect you – and to talk about?

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      2. We have always been quite independent of each other so I’m hoping the change won’t be too big a shock. He likes his own company, I like to be with my girl friends. It’s worked so far!

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  3. I love how you express yourself! Sometimes I swear you must be spying on my life and writing about it in your blog. Of course you change names and details to protect the innocent! ( HA! like there is any innocence here!) You really write about the common threads in all of our lives, the things that we read and go ‘yeah, I KNOW EXACTLY what she means’. You help us laugh at our own dramas. In a way your blog is my therapy too. (It confirms I am not alone in ‘the crazy’) Thank you.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely words – I think I will put them on my blog because what you have said is what I hope to achieve. You’re so right, if you can laugh at your own dramas, you might be coping at some level. Do you have a blog? If so, can you send the link.

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      1. Thanks for replying… I am flattered that you think I might have a blog. I have thought about blogging… but something has always held me back… is that something is lack of time? ( I have triplets and a surprise child) , no it is low self-esteem ( what if no one reads it?), no… it is lack of topic, no.. it is fear that MY BIG FAT SARCASTIC SMART ASS MOUTH will get me waist deep in trouble! Yep, THAT”S the one! Maybe it IS time to stir things up a bit! If I start a blog I will let you know… but I bet it would just sound like an echo of yours after all I swear you are peeping thru my windows! LOL Thank you again for the laughs and the nods I feel myself giving knowing that many of us are in similar boats… all on the same creek ( I think you know which one) and with out a paddle!

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  4. My experience is a bit different. I married Dadabs at age 37 (he was 39). We’d both been around the block a few times (I might have done a few more laps than he) and realized that our relationship was “as good as it gets”. Besides when it takes you that god darn long to find someone who’ll have you, you hang on to it with all your might 😉 Ask me again in another ten years and my response might be different.

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    1. It takes a while to understand the concept of ‘the grass is never greener’ doesn’t it? We’ve had some wobbles but fundamentally I can’t imagine starting again – having to fake it – what an effort!

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  5. Great post! Humor seems to be a key. I also think there needs to be a friendship at the base of any good, sustaining marriage. You have to want to hang out even if you just did your hair and showering together is out of the question. I think the friendship helps sustain the love through the dips.

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  6. Puzzle pieces that “fall together” also fall apart just as fast. After years and years together people are just fooling themselves as they desperately try to prentend they’re still in love. They’ll self-deceive to any degree necessary to remain in that denial.

    Or, they know very well they no longer love their spouse, but have to put on a good face for friends and neighbors. Look at the surge of “Gray divorces” in The U.S..

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