Posted by Jim_Daly Apr 17, 2012
Exceptions to the norm naturally surprise us, like when we hear about a marriage of 40-plus years ending in divorce.
Do you know somebody who for no good reason has decided to walk away from their marriage of longstanding?
According to the research, approximately 4 percent of marriages that make it to 40 years will eventually end in divorce.
What would cause somebody to give up on their spouse after so many years together?
I think a lot of it is caused by the modern nature of marriage. For many people, marriage has become a means to personal fulfillment. It’s more about what a person receives than what they give. It’s viewed as a utilitarian institution. If a person’s spouse isn’t making them happy, well, they’ll find someone else who they believe will.
Another reason, I believe, is that for many, marriage becomes all about raising children. After the children are out of the house, couples look around and realize they don’t really know one another anymore.
- The Honeymoon Phase: This is the period before the children arrive.
- The Child Phase: Depending upon the number of children, this period can last between 20 and 30 plus years.
- The Post-Child Phase: Once the children are out of the house, the transition to the empty nest begins.
So if this is the natural progression what is a married couple to do in order to prevent relationship discord late in life?
The easy answer to that question is this: we need to be very deliberate in trying to stay close with our spouse through the child-rearing years. We must resist the tendency to base our entire existence on the kids. Find a way to date and romance your spouse. Talk about your common interests, engage in those very activities and dream about the future – together.
You might have also realized that men and women tend to handle conflict differently. The research suggests that women are more likely to “bottle up” their anger and sweep issues under the rug. While this may result in less initial conflict, such behavior often causes a spirit of resentment to build within a relationship.
This reality might explain why more women than men file for late-life divorce. In the words of the philosopher Popeye the sailor, many wives finally hit their limit and metaphorically say, “I've had all I can stand, I can't stands no more!”
There is nothing more beautiful than a marriage that goes the distance and stands the test of time. If we want our golden years to shine, we need to spend time everyday pouring into our beloved. If we want to be loved, we need to love and serve without ceasing – and we need to do so without regard for what we receive in return.
Does it sound easy? Who said it would be?
Anything beautiful takes time and effort.
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About Jim Daly
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and host of its National Radio Hall of Fame-honored daily broadcast, heard by more than 2.9 million listeners a week on more than 1,000 radio stations across the U.S. He is husband to Jean and father to Trent and Troy.
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