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This is why people divorce after being married for decades

It is not a sudden decision caused by fights or an affair

Some people have been together for ages. You couldn’t even imagine them splitting up. But sometimes, people who seem inseparable still break up. Even after a marriage that has lasted for decades. So how come some people still split up after so many years together?
Usually, when people suddenly announce that they’re splitting up, we expect there to be some kind of event that triggered the break up. Like a fight or an affair, or other kinds of betrayal. But according to Pam Custers, relationship therapist interviewed by the Huffington Post, there are deeper feelings at play. They said: “it’s usually a slow realisation that you’re no longer on the same page.” We listed the common reasons for people who have been married for years and years, to file for divorce.

1. Fulfillment
When people are in their forties or fifties, they not only have children to take care of but they’re also providing care for their elderly parents. The pressure that comes with being the ‘sandwich generation’ can really influence the relationship. And people start to evaluate their career choices; sometimes feeling like they have been missing out. All of this can result in some lifestyle changes. Including relationship changes. Custers tells the Huffington Post: “People sometimes feel: ’I’ve got this window of opportunity that I can’t squander, because I’m getting older. Often, they feel they’ve got to fulfil themselves, and they’re asking what that fulfilment means. Is it fulfilment in the relationship, or is it as odds with the relationship?”

This search for fulfillment can result in changes in the relationship, ultimately resulting in divorce.

2. Kids moving out
Even though most couples start out without children, a lot changes when their children eventually move out. The dynamic of the family, and the relationship, changes. According to Custers, parents are mostly focused on their children. That means that their attention is usually directed at the children and their lives. Custers tells the Huffington Post: “Then, when children leave home, there’s a shift of identity and purpose and that brings questions of: what is the purpose of our marriage? Why are we together? What are the things we have that keep us together as a couple, other than our children?” Another theme that comes up is the hopes for the future that both people have. When there are no kids to take care of, people have time to think about their future and what they want that to look like. “…a lot of couples have looked at each other and said: ‘Do we still hold the same values any more? Are we the same people?’”

Especially for women, this change in dynamics can cause them to think about the ways they want to shape their lives without the sole identity of being a mother.

3. Menopause
When middle-aged women go through menopause, a lot can change. The hormonal changes can cause disruptions in the couples’ sex life and the women have to face a lot of psychological challenges too. When both parties don’t communicate clearly about the changes that are happening, this can lead to miscommunication. “If you make it an issue that can be navigated by both parties, it becomes something that’s doable for the relationship,” Custers tells the Huffington Post. “When it’s her problem and not his problem, it polarises.”

The key to dealing with all of this, is communication. According to Custers, these times of changes don’t have to be a bad thing. If couples embrace everything that comes with middle age, from the search of fulfillment to menopause and ’empty nest syndrome’, this time in their lives could actually prove to be exciting. “If used well, it can be a moment where the relationship steps up a notch and shifts into something really lovely.”