Divorce statistics for the over 50s continue to rise steadily. It has been speculated that the most common triggers for this are children leaving home or retirement. Couples suddenly feel they have nothing in common any more and marriages that have lasted for 25 years or more come to an end. Don’t become another statistic. Follow these steps to keep your marriage alive and happy.
1. Talk to each other. It sounds simple but it is amazing how many couples no longer have meaningful conversations. Discuss your day, current affairs, your interests, share anecdotes you have heard on the radio and remember to talk about your feelings. If one of you does something that annoys the other then talk about it, don’t bottle it up and resent the other.
Make a point of eating your evening meal at the table and talking to each other, rather than eating in front of the TV. This will not only improve your relationship, but also your digestion.
Couples who have strong marriages tend to be friends as well as lovers. “People who play together, stay together” is an old and true saying.
When asked about the secret of her long marriage, Jilly Cooper said “Having enjoyed being married to Leo for 42 years, I can say that the secret of our marriage is bedsprings creaking, not so much from sex but from laughter at a million private jokes that hold us together”.
2. Look for common interests. Find at least one hobby or interest that you can enjoy doing together. Do something different. Try something new together, maybe learn to dance, take up bowling or tennis, or join a club. Meet new people and acquire new skills.
Once you are both retired, share the household chores. It is only fair when both partners are at home to split the housework, cooking, shopping and gardening. Make the chores fun, see who can come up with the most interesting recipe from 5 set ingredients, who can plant the most bulbs in 20 minutes, who can clean the kitchen floor the quickest.
It is also important to have individual interests. Find at least one hobby or interest you don’t share. This will give you some precious time apart as well as something different to discuss. It also creates the chance to form new friendships with like-minded people.
3. At least once a month go on a date. Have dinner, go to the cinema or theatre, visit a museum, take a walk in the country or along the beach.
Ensure the date is planned in advance, is in both your diaries and is never cancelled. Take turns to decide what you will do.
Maybe even go away for the weekend occasionally. This gives you the opportunity to stay in a hotel where you won’t be disturbed by people phoning or ‘popping in’. You get to eat all your meals out, a great opportunity to talk and the chance to explore somewhere new.
4. Practice positive thinking. Happy couples stay together. If you make a habit of thinking positively you are more likely to be happy.
Count your blessings. Be grateful for what you have. List at least 6 positive things that have happened during the day before you go to sleep at night. (A beautiful flower, a bird singing, a lovely sunset, something someone said, a new piece of knowledge, a delicious meal, a good deed, good health, a task completed).
Positive thinking also has a beneficial effect on your health. Research has shown that patients with a positive mental attitude recover more quickly from surgery or trauma and that people with positive attitudes are more likely to conquer diseases such as cancer.
Check in with your feelings regularly and be aware of negative thoughts. Where focus goes, energy flows. Focus on what you do want, not what you don’t want.
5. Spice up your sex life. Just because you’ve been married for a long time, it doesn’t mean you can’t try new things. You don’t have to be athletic, maybe cuddle in a different position or make love in a different place. How about being spontaneous on the sofa? All too often lovemaking becomes a habit and we don’t vary our positions or foreplay. Pretend you have only just met and explore each other’s bodies all over again.
Take a candlelit bath together or massage each other – rekindle the romance.
It is sad for all concerned when a long-term marriage breaks up so follow these simple steps and rekindle your relationship.
If your relationship is not working despite trying these ideas then it is worth making an appointment with Relate (www.relate.org.uk). Splitting up after many years together is devastating both emotionally and financially.
‘Ten Secrets to a Successful Divorce’ is a practical step-by-step guide designed to help you to start redesigning your life right away. And it’s yours free just for visiting my website – http://www.newhorizons-divorcecoaching.co.uk