Midlife Partnerships

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For many married people, it has been said that if you made it through the 7-year mark (when many partnerships dissolve), there’s still hope. 

But, the stress of raising kids and the hustle to gain a financial stability in the earlier years of a partnership can take its toll on a couple.

Unfortunately, over 50 percent of all marriages in the United States don’t make it and end in divorce. For those who chose to hang in there, many of these relationships are loveless and unfulfilling. 

There are many reasons for dissolving a relationship.

Relationships vary themselves in their make-up and dynamics. In some cases, the couple cannot handle the years of struggle to raise a family.

In other cases, the partners change and grow in different directions, or one evolves and the other stays the same.

In many other situations, these individual partners were completely incompatible from the very start. 

It’s natural that love changes over time, as people change over time.

The ideal form of love involves: romantic passion, emotional intimacy, and commitment. We call this consummate love.  

Achieving consummate love is similar to losing weight. Getting started is easy; sticking to it is much harder and this is where commitment is required. This type of commitment is not only to growing and evolving individually, but also doing so with your partner.

For many couples that stick together through the rough years, some of that earlier passion has declined, but emotional intimacy and commitment is built. This is known as companionate love.

Many middle-aged couples now have the time and energy to turn toward the relationship as they seek ways of improving their communication and reignite the fires of passion, and growing together. 

For others, the end of passion signals the end of the relationship.

Some people are so enamored with passion that they do not approach their loving relationships realistically. This is especially true for those whose relationship was based on infatuation or the assumption that so-called true love takes care of all conflicts and problems.

When the flames of passion subside or times get rough, these spouses decide to move on to new relationships. Extramarital relationships are one consequence of marital unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

Disagreements usually increase as the couple becomes better acquainted and intimate. People who never learned how to communicate their concerns and needs with their spouses or how to work through conflicts are more likely to have affairs, separate or divorce.

Most couples know how to argue but fewer know how to work through conflicts. Couples who are struggling to get on the same page can learn to communicate effectively through counseling, relationship education, books or personal growth experiences, in order to avoid unnecessary heartache and pain.

What is a sure predictor of a loving relationship's potential for growing or wilting?

Long-term relationships share several factors, including both partners regarding the relationship as a long-term commitment; both verbally and physically expressing appreciation, admiration, and love; both offering emotional support to each other; and both considering the other as a best friend.

Essential to preserving a quality relationship is the couple's decision to practice effective communication.

Communication is the means by which intimacy is established and nurtured within a relationship; it helps partners better relate to and understand each other.

Communication helps create that emotional closeness, connection, and the feeling of being loved. And it creates an emotionally safe environment for cooperation, decision-making, and problem-solving. 

Mid-life, for many, can be a sort of “crisis” experience. And yet for some, an extraordinary opportunity for an “awakening”, a second chance at a new beginning, a new career, getting back to hobbies and importantly, reconnecting with a partner.

Investing in the second half of the journey is to take time to become a great communicator, the key to all successful partnerships.