If you believe that after a certain age or number of years together, you and your partner are home free and out of danger, think again. The temptation can be strong to glide along in your relationship after reaching middle age and the senior years. After all, you and your spouse have possibly weathered the tumult of raising kids together, building careers and handling all kinds of other challenges along the way. You shouldn’t have to think too much about your marriage now or should you?
Actually, it’s wise to stay aware of what’s happening in your relationship, even when you’re over 50 and you’ve celebrated 25 (more or less) years of marriage. A recent study shows that while the divorce rate for most Americans has remained about the same, for the segment of the population who is over the age of 50 the incidence of divorce is increasing. This is being called the "gray divorce rate."
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There are many reasons why this trend has developed, but the takeaway is this: It’s time to wake up!
Don’t put your marriage on autopilot just because you’re getting older. Especially with the changes going on in your body and transitions in your life, it’s essential to continue to keep communication, connection, trust, intimacy and more healthy and vital.
Perhaps one of the biggest relationship killers for couples over 50 comes from the belief that you both are and will continue to be the same as you‘ve "always" been. This myth will destroy your marriage if you buy into it. The fact is you, your spouse and everybody else, are changing all of the time. This is unavoidable and it’s a good thing too!
It may not be obvious. You might not be getting piercings and tattoos, shifting your religious or political views, or switching your favorite flavor from chocolate to vanilla, but you are changing (and your partner is too).
When couples act and react from the assumption that we remain the same and to change is bad and a threat to the relationship, resentment and conflict arise. Allegations that, "You’re not the person I married!" get thrown around which causes relationship spark to die. This alone contributes to a downward spiral that leads a couple to distance, separation and divorce. But it doesn’t have to happen this way. Use these five tips to divorce-proof your marriage.
1. Never stop learning.
Don’t assume that just because you’ve always thought you’d do, be or prefer certain things, that’s what has to be. Take regular time to check in with yourself. Ask yourself questions like, "Am I enjoying doing this?" and "Does this still feel fulfilling to me?" You might be resistant or even afraid of stepping out from what you’ve normally been or done, so be courageous. Never stop learning what it is that helps you feel happy and alive.
2. Never stop learning (part 2).
Staying informed about the changes that your partner is going through can be a wonderful way to get close and keep your connection healthy. Avoid asking your spouse the usual questions such as, "How are you feeling today?" Get creative and ask, "What made you smile today?" or "What would you like to do tonight that we’ve never done before?" Develop an attitude of curiosity about your partner and even if you don’t love everything that he or she is interested in, you can appreciate the excitement of discovery.
3. Don’t take anything for granted.
You’ve heard this phrase before, but do you practice it? It’s easy to fall into the habit of assuming that your partner will want to vacation where you two usually do or celebrate holidays in the same way as before. If you want to keep spark alive, stop assuming and start asking. Don’t take it for granted that your partner already knows how much you love and appreciate him or her either. Feel it in your heart and say it out loud often and with kind and compassionate actions as well as words.
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4. Take care of yourself.
Although we all age, none of us has to decline. When you stay active, eat nutritious foods, drink plenty of clean water, release stress, heal old emotional wounds and nourish healthy self-confidence. You can age with grace and remain vital no matter how many candles are on your birthday cake. As you take good care of yourself, you’ll be able to more fully enjoy the time you spend with your spouse and the range of what you can do together expands too. Instead of continually being dragged down by aches, pains or the blues, you’ll be open and ready for passion! Keep Reading...
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