UK statistics show that marriages and long-term relationships among people over 60 are increasingly ending in divorce. The number of so called”silver splitters” has risen by three quarters in just 20 years from only 8700 in 1991 to 15,300 in 2011.
Everyone has their annoying habits and personality traits which make them unique, but what happens when those characteristics, once considered ‘endearing’, turn into ‘irritating’?
The commitment of love, as we all know, requires an unconditional belief in your partner; seeking that person’s best no matter what the cost. Even though you might not like your spouse at times, you understand you have to be there for them in all circumstances, in spite of your feelings. This traditional way of thinking can be seen in marriages that have stood the test of time.
However, there comes a point when enough is enough. If the little things about them have started to grate on your nerves, you may need to take some steps to find out if you really are still in love.
Remember that being in love originated from liking each other and having fun together. If you’re unsure as to whether you get on as well as you used to, try setting aside time together where you can concentrate on each other, such as planning a meal out rather than going to the theatre or cinema. Pretend you’re on a date – be on your best behaviour and try to impress each other. You may get some of the old feelings back, or you may realise you have nothing to talk about anymore.
Alternatively, try compiling a table with three columns. In the first, write down the character traits that first attracted you to your partner. In the second, write how they made you feel when you first met and in the third, note how you feel about them now.
When you’ve finished this exercise, which should only be done when you’re in a reasonable frame of mind and not angry with them, you should be able to see that there’s a good and bad side to every character trait. It’s now up to you to decide if you want to accept the good with the bad. For example, an easy-going person may let you do what you want but, on the other hand, you don’t want to live with a slob.
Before making the decision to end a relationship however, it is important to appraise honestly whether things are so bad that there is no alternative.
3 questions to ask yourself:
- Is it possible to make changes within your relationship?
- What, if any, practical steps might be taken to improve things?
- Are there any clear advantages in separating or divorcing – and if so, what are those advantages?
Professional advisers can help enormously in thinking these things through; the expert advice and perspective of a counsellor or family therapist can be invaluable.
Even a friend or any outsider’s view can help. For example, where a marriage is fraught, people commonly focus on ‘symptoms’ – the recurring patterns of behaviour between them. If the symptoms are too numerous to mention, divorce feels inevitable as it all feels ‘too much’ and beyond repair. What an outsider can do is be more objective and help to separate and identify the problems from the overwhelming feelings.
Even if after all this you can’t see a future for you both, the next step is to learn to let go – remind yourself that you shouldn’t be staying in a relationship just through force of habit. After all, life’s too short to be unhappy.
By Jessica Smith.Last modified: January 8, 2021