Marriage Milestones--Are Long-Term Marriages Ending More Often?
"My grandparents stayed married because they loved each other and respected their marriage."
Or maybe not. New studies are revealing that today, long-term marriages are breaking up even faster than new relationships. Why? According to some experts, we should blame longer life-spans.
Now that we are more likely to live longer, less people want to waste their time being anything less than satisfied. Which means that back in the good old days, Gramma and Grandpa may have just stayed together because they didn't figure it was worth the trouble to break up.
I guess we all think to ourselves that today's divorce rates pertain to "short-lived marriages." You know, five years or less. I remember when I was younger, people would advise newlyweds: "If you can just make it to five years, you will probably be okay."
The problem is, that is exactly what people are doing! They are meeting that five year goal, then saying "if I did that, I can surely make ten!" Meeting goals is great when you are talking about becoming debt-free, earning a degree, or achieving some other milestone.
But when it comes to affairs of the heart, sticking together just to hit those special anniversaries can leave a marriage cold. And, according to the new divorce statistics, those marriages are coming to an end at around the 25 year mark.
The good news is that marriages don't just suddenly end overnight. And they don't end without some warning signs. There are also plenty of tips that both partners can employ to make sure their relationship doesn't fall victim to the 25 Year Itch.
According to Huffington Post, the number one reason for divorce these days is Unreasonable Behavior. Here are some other potential relationship killers:
- Lack of Intimacy
- Lack of communication
- Abuse (of any type)
- Controlling behavior
- Substance abuse
Signs That Life is Not Rosy
Whether a relationship is 1 year old, or 50 years old; it can't break up without some warning signs. Here are some of the most common symptoms of a marital illness.
- Discussions--even those about mundane issues (such as where to eat dinner, end in an argument. More often than just "occasionally".
- Resentment starts to appear frequently. "Well, isn't it nice that YOU got a three day vacation when I only got two? I guess you spent your extra day doing something fun."
- One or both partners would rather spend time apart than together. That doesn't mean they should spend 100% of their time together, but they shouldn't resent having to spend 20 minutes together either.
- Compromise becomes about shutting one partner up rather than reaching something agreeable for both. Or it doesn't exist at all.
- Blame is used more often than communication. Effective communication sometimes has to be proactive. For example, saying "We only have $300 budgeted this week for groceries." is communication. Blame is when one partner doesn't disclose this information, then accused the other or recklessly overspending.
If caught fast enough, these issues can be addressed in a reasonable tone of voice. The yucky parts of the relationship can be cut out, and the marriage can go on to thrive. If they aren't caught soon enough, they can fester, and the whole relationship can turn toxic.
Rocky Relationship or Toxic Relationship?
All marriages and relationships have their highs and lows. But sometimes those bad times are far more serious than just a few missing elements such as communication, respect, and laughter.
If a relationship has reached a toxic level, it is never far from becoming an abusive relationship. Here are some warning signs that need to be heeded:
- Personal growth or changes in your likes and dislikes are not accepted--everyone grows and changes when they age. We change a little every year, but it is so gradual that most people don't realize it. In a toxic relationship, a partner may be pressured to stay the same.
- Gifts or kind acts are presented like a punishment--usually with some personal guilt attached. (Here, I am getting you this...even though I had to do without. Hope you are happy.)
- One partner demands unreasonable changes in the other. These may be sudden demands to change behavior, interests, hobbies, or other traits.
- Suddenly you can't do anything right. Do you feel like you lost IQ points overnight sometime? You used to have great discussions and asked each other's opinions...but now your opinion is brushed off or laughed at. Your contribution to a discussion is always met with a "No, you are wrong."
- When you ask your partner's opinion, they may scoff at you for not knowing the answer already or may become angered because you "bothered" them about something so insignificant.
- You feel uneasy. Perhaps your partner has started flying off the handle anytime you ask a question or do something without asking permission. You can't do the things you have always done well enough anymore, and even the tiniest inconvenience can lead to a full-blown argument.
Naturally, there is going to be a permanent air of tension in the home under these circumstances. Sadly, many couples fall into a pattern where they live with the tension and try to avoid situations to exacerbate it, rather than digging deep to find the cause.
Fortunately, many toxic relationships can be avoided when both partners understand and implement ONE simple word. Respect.
Say It In Writing
Having trouble discussing issues? Try writing your discussions. It is easier to write certain feelings.
Don't just write negative stuff though. Take the time to write a note telling your partner something special you like about them every now and then.
Respect--The Solid Foundation
What does respect mean in a relationship? You could say that it means:
- Nurturing each other
- Supporting each other
- Finding compromise
- Working as a team
- Listening to each other
Quite simply, respect means not being mean to each other. It is really that easy. I have some seen and heard some amazingly disrespectful things that couples do to each other, such as the following:
Eye-rolling--Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes me want to thump someone's ear more than when I see them rolling their eyes at something their spouse says. Not that it can't be done in good humor. If both people are laughing and the eye-roll looks part of the joke, then it probably is. But when someone rolls their eyes in a way that clearly indicates they think their partner is stupid and an embarrassment...that is disrespect.
Bringing Up Shortcomings--NOBODY is ever 100% amazing and perfect. And most people are so willing to overlook that when they first marry. How cute that she doesn't know how to make toast!Somehow, in the years of marriage, whatever that shortcoming was, the person was supposed to magically overcome it. Forget all the stuff they can do! That toast is the main issue all of a sudden.
Both parties KNOW what their shortcomings are, and they know their partners know as well. But that doesn't mean it should be thrown out every time there is a disagreement or used as a joke at every party. In fact, it should never be brought up outside the home at all unless absolutely necessary.
Differences in Income and Education--When people disrespect each other's accomplishments, it can lead to disaster. Whether these are personal or academic achievements, everyone has worked hard to get what they have. If you treat your partner like they are less important you than you are based on these principles, then you are more focused on social value of your partner than you are you're actually relationship with someone you love.
Brushing Off Nice Gestures--If you watch closely, you may see this in a lot of relationships. Not just marriages. One person makes a nice gesture, and the other person responds (maybe with the dreaded eye-roll) "Yeah. That's nice I guess. What am I supposed to do with it?"
Really, even if someone gave you a pet porpoise the least you can do say thank you for thinking about me, right? In marriage this is so important, because no matter how small or weird the gift is, it shows that even when your partner wasn't with you, they WERE thinking of you.
More Tips For A Long Marriage
16. Keep your relationship problems off the social networks. Keep a lot of the good stuff off of there too.
17. Never belittle each others ideas. Dreams are often just that, dreams. But you don't have to puncture them intentionally just because they aren't the same as yours.
18. If you make a promise, try to stick by it as much as you can. If for whatever reason you couldn't come through, explain what happened and apologize.
19. Don't look at middle age as the time to do "all that stuff you wanted to do back then." Stop and really think about what you want to do NOW. You may have new dreams that you aren't paying attention to because you are still resentful about not fulfilling the old dreams. Don't give up either and think that all the good times are over. Make new good times, new traditions, and new goals.
20. Don't worry about who is right.It isn't about who is right...it is about finding the right solution for the issue at hand.
21. If you can't say something nice...then you need to shut up and try to figure out what is wrong with YOU.
22. If you can't say something in a nice tone of voice...then see the above advice. Why are you being impatient? Snappy? Angry? Was it the question that was asked, something else on your mind, or something that your partner did last week? Get to the bottom of YOUR problem, then you go from there.
23. Silence is NOT always golden. Sometimes it is sludge. If there is something bothering you, then you need to bring it up. Don't wait for the other person to guess, don't just hold it in to avoid an argument, and don't save it up to use in later discussion. Cough it up now. But think about HOW you say it. Stick to the point.
24. If your parnter brings up the issue that is bothering her/him...then your job is to listen. Then both of you need to work on a solution. Immediately getting defensive and saying "I did NOT! But YOU..." isn't going to get either of you anywhere. Its okay to point out when the other person has done something hurtful too, but not as an excuse for what you did.
25. Seek counseling if you just can't seem to get it together. Sometimes talking to a third party can make all the difference, especially when it comes to those really touchy subjects that just can't be resloved on your own.
25 Marriage Boosting Tips From Real People
To make this article somewhat helpful, I asked several couples who have been together for over 1 year, what their secrets are. The very best advice, I will place at number one.
1. The secret to a happy marriage changes constantly. Like a password. If you are in tune with your relationship, then you will know when to change a few things.
2. Respect each other equally. You don't have to sing each other's praises, but always (even if it isn't true) act like your partner is an expert in at least ONE thing, and ask their advice on it.
3. Don't compare each other to different people. Ever.
4. It is great to remind your partner why you fell in love with them. But also tell them what you love about them now, even if it is the same trait.
5. If it isn't a life-threatening crisis, don't treat it like one. Just relax. Learn to tell the difference between "have-to" tasks and those that can be done later.
6. Use the same manners that you insist your kids use. Say you are sorry when you do something hurtful.
7. A joke isn't funny if it hurts or humiliates someone else. Always take care when you are talking about your partner to someone else.
8. Admit when you are wrong. Don't wait for your spouse to tell you. Don't wait for others to point it out. Wake up at least once a week and ask yourself if you have done everything right. And be honest with yourself. Then you can fix it.
9. Choose your battles wisely. There is a time and a place to "put your foot down". There is even a right time to nag or nitpick. But it needs to be over something very important...not over whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher.
10. Remember that it is rarely one person's fault. Individual things might be, but the whole relationship depends on both partners.
11. Let it go! Don't keep re-hashing mistakes that were made years ago. Especially very small misdemeanors!
12. Put your marriage first. If that means saying "no" to everyone and everything else when you need each other...then do it.
13. When you say you love your partner, it should be for something that they are or something that they do that is unique to them. Not how well they cook, clean, earn money, look, dress, etc.
14. If you can't say it in words, then say it in writing. It is too easy to lose your temper when talking. Too easy to be interupted. Write it. Edit it down to just the facts. Delete the negativity. Use paper, email, text...whatever.
15. Do unto your partner. If you don't want to be treated a certain way, then don't do it to them. Don't repeat a bad action by them just to "show them what it felt like". That leads to a vicious cycle.
|Healthy Behaviors||Hurtful Behaviors||Toxic Behaviors|
Using Please and Thank You
Ignoring kind gestures
Sneering or Yelling at kind gestures
Showing sincere affection
Obligatory affection only
Brushing off affection
Listening to concerns
Pretending to listen
Rolling eyes or scoffing
Respecting personal differences
Downplaying personal preferences
Forbidding personal differences
Ingredients for a Strong Relationship
- I Love You--either the words or a gesture. As long as it is sincere
- Goodnight kisses
- Personal compliments
- Responsibility for actions
- At least one common interest
Marriage Is More Than Vows and a Ring
Marriage, or any relationship, is about more than vows, ceremony, rings or traditions. When you agree to share your life with that one special person (and I do hope you consider them to be special) you have to consider them as a friend.
Ironically, in many cases, people are actually kinder to their friends than they are to their partners. Maybe they are more afraid of losing a friendship than a relationship. More likely though, they get into a habit of taking their partners for granted.
Just as friendships can tire quickly if abused, so can relationships. Treat your partner as more than your best friend. Treat them as the person that you fell in love with, even if that was "eons" ago. Treat them as you wish to be treated.
Are You Still the One?
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Laurie Maxson from AL on February 27, 2015:
Great article! Lots of insights. It's funny because my first marriage failed, and I began to feel like the failure because of the "time frame", people used to say "if you can make it blah blah blah". You can't force yourself to love someone, you shouldn't jump in to a marriage, like I did, just because time is running out :) On the other hand, I am now married again and I find that you must always "work" on your relationship. Things become routine and we mustn't let them. Get creative, live like you just met, compliment one another, and always focus on how you can be your best for your spouse. As a coach I help people to live their best, and to be all that they were created to be. This really helps in building, creating, and sustaining relationships. Thanks for a well thought out article!
Al Wordlaw from Chicago on June 24, 2014:
Hi Sharkye, very realistic views. They can save a marriage if that's what the couple wants to do. Thanks for your expertise :-)
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on June 23, 2014:
@biblicaliving --Thank you for reading. Indeed, it can be tough at times, with no easy way out.
@passthejelly -- It is actually amazing how good of a solution that actually is! I am always wowed when couples who have been happily living together for decades get married finally, then split up forever. Beware that piece of paper. Beware.
Agnes on December 26, 2013:
What a fantastic article! I love it. I don't know if marriage will stay happy forever, but I sure hope so!
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on December 05, 2013:
@ Rasta1 --Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed it.
@Linda--Thank you very much! I had a lot of fun writing it. :)
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on November 27, 2013:
@Moonlake-- Congratulations on 51 years! That is a great achievement, as is being able to say that you still love each other, rather than many who say they are just used to each other after that amount of time! Thanks for reading!
C E Clark from North Texas on November 23, 2013:
Congratulations on HOTD!
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on November 22, 2013:
@KJ Force--Exactly. That is one of the reasons I think people should try living together awhile, or at least dating awhile before actually getting married. Some relationships were just meant to to be short-term.
Thanks for reading and commenting!
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on November 21, 2013:
@savvydating--it is true that some people just make it a habit of falling into and out of marriages, looking for that perfect arrangement. That is why I think couples should always be patient and try to work through problems (unless there is abuse) before jumping for a divorce or separation. However, I also believe that sometimes it takes two or three times (or more!) for the right two people to come together. Which is what makes relationships so darned tricky!
Thanks for reading!
JessBraz from Canada on November 21, 2013:
Very lovely hub!
I got engaged last summer (we've been together for just about eight years!) .. I really liked your tips, especially the one about not posting stuff about your relationship on social networks... I can't tell you how many times I've seen friends actually argue with their partners on FB... Like, hello? You guys live in the same house! Why are you communicating on FB and not face to face? Boggles my mind... I think if you constantly vent about your partners short comings to your friends or on FB, everyone only see the bad things... I don't talk about my relationship arguments with anyone because when we make up, the people you vent to don't see that... The audience that watched you fight is never there when you make up and move on- So your friends and/or family only remember the bad stuff, then their attitudes towards your partner can poison your relationship down the road... Does that make any sense? lol.
Anyway, cheers to you on a great hub! I really enjoyed reading it! Voted up!
Mike Robbers from London on November 21, 2013:
Very nice hub,thanks for sharing!
Dianna Mendez on November 20, 2013:
Congratulations on the hub award. This message is life changing and will help many to build a solid marriage foundation. Blessings!
Hui (蕙) on November 20, 2013:
Life is not rosy! Good sentence, meaningful and insightful. Today, even marriage lasts less than one year, people still look forward to it. This is our life. We may say "Marriage is like a trapped city. People outside try to rush in, while those inside try to rush out.
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on November 20, 2013:
@JennyElizabeth--Thanks for reading and sharing your wonderful idea about the happy photos. That is a terrific idea for all couples, not just to remind themselves about their partner at that time, but to help them remember how they were acting during those good times too!
Deborah Neyens from Iowa on November 20, 2013:
Great hub! Congratulations on HOTD - it was well-deserved.
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on November 20, 2013:
@CrisSp--Congrats on your 25th!! I'm glad to hear when people stay together so long and are still happy enough to hub about it! :)
Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on November 20, 2013:
I forgot to congratulate you on HOTD. Congratulations! Well said and well written.
Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on November 20, 2013:
Excellent article and you bring up some good points and suggestions and tips for having a good long marriage. It is not easy and takes constant work and communication to maintain a marriage. Once understanding, love and communication are gone, it is not long before the marriage is gone too. A sense of humor really helps also.
schoolgirlforreal on November 20, 2013:
I think you have a lot of good points and I agree. When one partner expects the unreasonable- like for a person to change their religion- than that's abusive and the other person will end up retaliating.
There must be mutual respect I agree, and THEN it will be able to grow from there.
Thanks for the hub!
passionate77 on November 20, 2013:
extremely insightful and so wonderful post. each and every word makes a sense, really a great article on the relevant topic, i just bookmarked it as found so helpful and so thorough, throwing light almost on each point related to married life issues. thanks for sharing so nice tips and ideas, stay blessed dear!
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 20, 2013:
Wonderful hub and many congratulations for a well deserved HOTD!
I agree with the points you made above. In order to become a Happily Ever After Married couple, both partners have to work for it. Both of them need to have love, respect, trust, transparency and forgiveness for each other. Speaking from personal experience, you need to accept the negatives too along with the many positives.
This article will be useful for many.
Koralee Phillips from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on November 20, 2013:
You have a lot of information packed into your Hub. Thanks for sharing your insights. It is a great article for couples who aren't doing well and thinking of splitting up. Hurt feelings pile up in relationships, and especially in marriages, if their not dealt with.
I know how uncomfortable I feel when couples exhibit the toxic behaviors you listed in your table. You don't know what to do or say.
Your boosting tips are great to get people to look at their marriages from an objective point of view. And hopefully see how they're contributing to their marital problems, and give them incentive to fix them.
CraftytotheCore on November 20, 2013:
Congratulations on Hub of the Day! Good for you! :D
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 20, 2013:
I like it when people I like win HOTD...well-deserved my friend.
Cheryl A Whitsett from Jacksonville, Fl on November 20, 2013:
People just give up to easy. It's easier to leave, easier not to try, easier not to have to worry about another human being. Everything is easier then to keep your marriage vows sacred until death you do part. Every relationship has ups and down and you have to have patients and pursue your mate always as you did in the beginning. You can't have it all and not give anything.
Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on November 20, 2013:
What a well-thought-ought insightful article!
I can certainly see why you were awarded the HubPages Hub of the Day for it today (November 20, 2013).
Your Cousins from Atlanta, GA on November 20, 2013:
Enjoyed reading this article and I can truly relate to #11 Let it go! Over many years of marriage I have learned that even if he is wrong, just saying "I agree" cools things down until we can calmly discuss it later.
Mark Passarelli from Lakewood Colorado on November 20, 2013:
Solution. Never get married hehe
biblicaliving from U.S.A. on November 20, 2013:
Great Hub on marriage. I think that we are to prone to forgetting how complicated long-term relationships (marriage, family, friends, etc.) really are, and that we are constantly changing.
Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on November 20, 2013:
Way to go Sharkye on HOTD! This is a fabulous, fact-filled article!
Marvin Parke from Jamaica on November 20, 2013:
A very comprehensive article indeed. The best how-to guide on such a serious topic.
moonlake from America on November 20, 2013:
Congrats on HOTD. We've been married 51 years. People very likely get sick of me saying that. We've made it through many hardships but manage to survive and still love each other. Voted up on your hub.
kjforce from Florida on November 02, 2013:
Sharkye11..Awesome and very interesting point you bring up regarding relationships..not just marriages... " D " was not as accepted back 30+ yrs ago...You were a" social failure "..Today almost both work outside the home, more freedom, people are overwhelmed and sometimes take chances of "thrill",it has become more acceptable and many people just quit and move on, rather than to find the problem/solution. Good Relationships take work , although sometimes people just drift apart because of lack of interests...Well written article..thanks for the share..have a great Sunday
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on November 01, 2013:
@Long Time Mother--sounds like a great relationship! Wishing you both the best of luck! Thanks for reading!
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on October 26, 2013:
@Jo Goldsmith11-- I hope you find the right solution. Sometimes it takes a few times for the right two people to meet. It is a big world, and not easy to find your soulmate. Wish you the best of luck!
Yves on October 23, 2013:
This hub is excellent! Recently, my brother and I were discussing why second marriages have a higher rate of failure than first marriages. My take is that people never learned anything from the first marriage. They continue to maintain that the other person was at fault, nearly always failing to see how they may have contributed to the dysfunction of their relationship. As the saying goes, "It takes two..."
At any rate, your article about how to make a marriage work, whether 1st, 2nd or 6th is awesome. I really liked that you included "picking your battles" and not taking your spouse's positive actions for granted.
Up & awesome, useful.
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on October 21, 2013:
@CraftytotheCore--Sorry to hear you went through a bad marriage. But very glad to hear that things are better this time! I wish you the best of luck! Thanks for reading and commenting!
Elizabeth Reeve from Cornfields of Indiana on October 20, 2013:
This is a wonderful article. To have a healthy marriage you have to be your partner's biggest fan. Instead of talking about the negative things he does with your friends, brag about him. :-) One of the things that I do to help my marriage, well visually, is I have tons of family pictures hanging all over my walls in the living room, so many happy moments. With doing that when I do get angry with my husband anywhere I look in my living room there are happy moments and its hard to stay mad, what ever I was mad about just turns into something so small compared to all the good there is in our relationship.
CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on October 19, 2013:
Fascinating and very perceptive! Well, I am very pleased to announce that I have just celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary last summer and so excited that I even have to hub about it too. :)
You've done a great job here! Kudos!
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on October 19, 2013:
@aviannovice--Thank you very much for reading and for the kind comment!
LongTimeMother from Australia on October 19, 2013:
I believe my marriage will be happy forever. I am the luckiest woman on the planet. I have a husband who often says, "Thank you for being my wife." :)
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on October 18, 2013:
@purl3agony--That was a wonderful piece of insight. You are so very right, the things you say to a partner are harder to take back than any other words. Ditto gestures and things that needed to be said and done and weren't. Thank you for adding that! And thanks for reading and commenting too!
Jo_Goldsmith11 on October 18, 2013:
I have had a total of four serious relationships and two ended up in marriage. The first was out of fear to marry. The guy was a glorified socialpath. My second (current one) I thought would last forever. I am debating if I have the same fate as my mother who couldn't seem to get it right in the love and marriage department. This was an interesting read. And it has helped me to evaluate what steps I need to take and make the decision once and for all. Once the trust and communication is gone, it is hard to have the desire to stay married.
Voted up +++ Shared & tweeted. You did an excellent job with this! :-)
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on October 18, 2013:
@janetwrites--true, no one can ever know for sure how good a relationship will do in the long run. All we can do us try, try, try! Best of luck to you!
CraftytotheCore on October 15, 2013:
True words of wisdom. I was in a toxic marriage. I know all too well what that entails. I am happily re-married. I whole-heartedly agree that respect makes a solid foundation! Great Hub!
Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on October 14, 2013:
This article makes so much sense. You did fabulous job on a many-faceted topic..
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on October 13, 2013:
@billy--Thank you. And I wish you the best of luck this time! Sometimes first (second, third, etc) relationships are failures. They were just not the right person. They do serve as great learning experiences though. :) Happy Birthday!
Donna Herron from USA on October 13, 2013:
You make a lot of good points and include some important reminders on how we treat one another. I think it's always important to treat each other with respect and kindness There's a great song by Patty Griffin about an elderly couple looking back on their marriage. One of the lines in the song goes "Forty years of saying things you wish you never said." I think it's always good to remember that once you say something - particularly to your partner - it's hard to take back. Great hub! Voted up!
Janet Giessl from Georgia country on October 13, 2013:
Very interesting hub about marriage. You found so many good points. It's not easy to maintain a marriage. I have been married for about 8 years now and I hope and wish it will last a lifetime but nobody knows what the future will bring. Thank you for sharing your hub which is so important for many people.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 12, 2013:
It is no walk in the park even in the best of marriages. Making a marriage work takes on hell of a lot of work, patience, understanding, compassion, communication and yes, love. I failed miserably once; I'm doing much better the second time around. Well done my friend; great message for millions of people. :)