Most people are shocked to hear divorce news when it concerns a couple who spent over a decade together. They wonder how the couple could have invested so much time into their relationship only to declare it no longer works. Danielle Horwich, a licensed clinical social worker in Los Angeles, says while there are no easy answers, there may be some obvious reasons behind the demise of a long and (what appeared to be) happy marriage.
A Loss of Connection
One reason behind the collapse of a longtime marriage could be that some spouses may feel a loss of connection with each other once their children are grown and their day-to-day lives are no longer about parenting and building a home for their kids. After decades of marriage, when the children have left their parent’s home and entered college or begun families of their own, the couple must look towards each other and ask themselves: “Without our children what do we have in our relationship”. Some couples will see this transition as a vibrant opportunity to embark on new adventures. Others will look towards one another and see they no longer recognize and understand the partner they married.
A Mid-life Crisis
According to Horwich, individuals may feel the need to take on a new path in mid-life. Many people begin to face the eventual inevitability of their own mortality between the ages of 40 and 65. “As mid-lifers encounter the reality of limited years, many reevaluate their success thus far,” explains Horwich. “They ask questions like ‘Am I meeting my life goals? Am I leaving a positive mark on the world? Do I have new goals I would like to achieve?’ These are the challenges that offer the couple an opportunity to grow together or move towards divorce.”
A Lack of Coping Skills
While mid-life may be the time in which you are supposed to coast into your golden years, it’s also the time when life can present quite difficult circumstances. Health issues, caring for aging parents, and dealing with the death of loved ones all become more common occurrences in mid-life and require great adaptation and coping skills for couples. If a couple doesn’t have the coping skills necessary to make it through a major traumatic event, it could lead to a breakdown between the two of them.