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a divorce story”Young Afro Caribbean woman sitting on the edge of a bed with a mature man relaxing in the background, focus on girl.”

If you’re lucky, life will be pretty long and so, too, will your marriage. I don’t think many people really think about what it will mean to spend forever with somebody when they exchange vows. Sure, they have cute ideas in their heads about being very, very old together, rolling their walkers side by side in a retirement community. But becoming old should be the least of one’s worries when it comes to the challenges that face a marriage. Most likely, when a couple marries, times are pretty good. Some go through a bit of hardship before tying the knot, but surviving one short bout of hardship and going through dozens, that can last months (or years) and still finding ways to maintain your bond are very different challenges. If you aren’t in your marriage for the right reasons, and then don’t do the work to keep your values in sight, it’s easy to let a marriage fall apart. Here are life changes that cause weak couples to divorce.

family time ideas

Black family eating salad at dining room table

Having children

Even though having and raising children is supposed to be a beautiful event in a couple’s life (and, it is) it’s also an experience that greatly strains the bond between the parents. Suddenly, all of the focus is on the kids. The children’s needs always go before the needs of the parent—of the romantic partners. Before the kids arrived, the exact opposite was true—the partners put each other before all else.

a divorce story African American man and woman embrace while on a date in a city park.

Be adamant about alone time

You naturally need to put your kids first most of the time or else they possibly wouldn’t survive, or they’d grow up feeling neglected. But be adamant about having special, one-on-one time with your partner at least…twice a month. And set boundaries around the home like, not allowing the kids to sleep in your bed past a certain age or enter your room unless it’s an emergency after a certain hour. These rules won’t kill your kids, but not having them could kill your marriage.

a divorce story organizing boxes

Empty nest syndrome

Raising kids can be strangely both distancing and bonding for parents at the same time. Parents do, at least have, a shared goal (the successful rearing of their children). They share something they both care about deeply and would do anything for. That’s a special connection only parents have with one another. So, when all the kids go off to college and leave the nest, the thing that kept that connection alive is…gone. And that can cause issues.

a divorce story on a cruise having cocktails vacation time

Maintain your bond, outside of parenting

Being persistent about alone time throughout the child-rearing years is important here again. You need to do things that remind you of the bond you have other than having children together. You do have one since, you didn’t have kids when you decided to get married—remember? Do things to remind yourselves who you are, other than parents. Bi-yearly one-on-one trips can be great for this.

finances in a relationship african couple holding digital tablet in a meeting with financial advisor at home

A drastic loss of income

Money troubles are, of course, hard on anyone. When you’re worried about how you’ll literally keep a roof over your head, or make mortgage payments to keep interest rates from skyrocketing to a point that would put you in crippling debt, you’re going to be pretty stressed out. And that stress, along with arguments about how to handle money, will cause fights.

a divorce story couple eating pizza

The solution was in the foundation

The truth is that, if a couple has only known each other while quite wealthy, it can be very hard for them to survive money troubles. I won’t sugarcoat it: it’s kind of good for a couple to meet before they have money. If you’ve survived broke before, you will time and time again and you can be certain your connection is based on something other than superficial things.

a divorce story females entering the private jet airplane at the airport.

A drastic increase of income

If a pair is fortunate enough to come into a lot of money, then that is wonderful. That being said, just because a pair can maintain their bond while broke doesn’t mean that they can do that when they become rich. Money has a way of distancing people if they allow it to. You go out more. You’re invited to more social events. You have a physically larger home. You lean on activities to spend time together.

a divorce story in bed cuddling

Act like the money isn’t there

Life will obviously change to some degree when you suddenly have a lot of money. But it’s when pairs make lots of drastic changes to…what they do…who their friends are…where they live that they lose touch with their original bond. Money should be seen as simply a tool that relieves you from worrying about covering basic expenses, but it should never replace your bond or change your romantic dynamic.

a divorce story bringing mother flowers in hospital

Caring for a sick family member

Whether it’s a child, a parent, or a sibling, a family member may become very ill and require everyone’s help. If you’re married, and turn most of your attention to caring for a family member, your partner can feel that that person is getting the attention that is meant for him. It’s not selfish on his part—it’s just that he is feeling a disruption of the natural order. And, he probably doesn’t have anyone else he can turn to to care for him as much as a spouse would.

a divorce story of a young couple at home

The responsibility falls on both people

The reality is that, sometimes, a spouse needs to suck it up and accept that, temporarily, his partner won’t be able to pay much attention to him. If it truly is only temporary and out of anyone’s hands then, simply being patient and refraining from doing anything dumb (like cheating) will get the pair through it. Meanwhile, if you’re the person who is distracted by caring for a sick family member, make sure to tell your partner that you understand his plight, and you really appreciate how understanding he has been. Just acknowledging the experience of the other goes a long way.

a divorce story man relaxing on the floor at home and surfing the Internet on his cell phone. His wife is in the background.

Perceived emotional cheating

If a couple is together for a very, very long time, it’s only normal that each person will develop close friendships with people of the opposite sex. Sometimes—particularly when the marriage already feels weak—these friendships can feel like threats to the marriage, and can make the jealous individual act out, pull away, seek out her own emotional affair, and do other damaging things.

relationship problems

Couple drinking coffee on sofa

Communication is everything here

If someone truly is having en emotional affair then, that is a problem. But too often, one person just has a small inkling that this is happening, and without even bringing it up to their partner, they just act out—perhaps for nothing. But the way they act out could permanently damage the marriage. Simply putting pride aside and speaking to your partner when you feel a bit jealous can prevent so many problems.

a divorce story exposure image of a woman smiling and looking unhappy.

Depression/identity crisis

Life is a long and complex journey, and most emotional, intellectual individuals will go through periods of depression, and even suffer from an identity crisis. During this time, they can be emotionally inaccessible to their partner, and even take some strange and drastic action like going on long, solo trips, taking up odd hobbies, or changing career paths entirely. It can leave the more stable partner feeling like they’ve lost the person they married.

addicted to drama in relationships woman looking out of the window. Los Angeles, America. July 2017

Ask yourself: what if it was you?

If it were you going through depression, or questioning your purpose in life, would you want your partner to abandon you? Probably not. You would want your partner to stick it out with you, talk you through your confusion, and help you find your way back.

a divorce story beautiful diverse couple gets engaged at sunset, walking along the beach

Just remember life ebbs and flows

When your marriage is going through something that you worry it won’t survive, just think about all of the other challenges you’ve faced in life. You got through those. Circumstances beyond your control helped things return to equilibrium. The truth is that, any couple is bound to go through major ups and downs but, if you can remember who you were when you married, and what values you promised to uphold, you’ll probably make it through to another time of peace.

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