A growing number of couples today are calling it quits after many years of marriage. In fact, the United States Census Bureau reveals that the number of divorces in people over 50 years of age has more than doubled in the past two decades.

Reasons for Divorce Among Long-Married Couples

There are so many reasons that long-term marriages end in divorce, says LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, MSS, a psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, and author of the upcoming book Smart Relationships. She points out that while having a spouse who cheats can sometimes be the catalyst for parting ways, this certainly is not the only cause. "Many couples get so caught up in juggling parenting, work, and finances that they don't take time to become a loving, problem-solving team. Over the years, as they risk losing that intimate and special connection, they also lose mutual respect," says Wish. "Other people may have married on the rebound, out of loneliness, the ticking of their biological clock, or in reaction to a loss of a parent." Regardless of the reason, Wish says that one day, a husband and wife may simply wake up and realize that that they don't have that much in common and don't want to be together anymore.

Coping With Reasons for Divorce

"I'm afraid for a lot of people, it's our endless quest for the greener grass," according to Tina B. Tessina, PhD (aka "Dr. Romance"), psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. Tessina points out that while it can be tempting to walk away from your marriage if you're bored or when things are difficult, if there's no deeper reason for parting ways, it can also be well worth the effort to try to make things work.

Secrets to a Happy Marriage

Before you throw in the towel, Tessina suggests trying some of these simple yet effective steps for strengthening a flailing marriage:

  1. Use your differences as opportunities to learn from each other. Instead of being closed off to your partner's point of view, make the time and effort to understand where he or she is coming from, and to explain your views, too.
  2. Be willing to listen to each other. Make sure that both of you are calm, and can sit down as adults to work out problems rationally, rather than being driven by emotion.
  3. Set realistic expectations for your relationship. Marriage isn't always about romance and glamour, but you can make an effort to keep some fun alive in your relationship so you both have something to look forward to on a regular basis.  
  4. Act on your affection for one another. This will increase the bond between both of you and create a sense of intimacy that can often help you overcome barriers.
  5. Compliment your spouse, and be encouraging. Chances are, your spouse will do the same in return. This can help to create more of a bond and can help you both feel more understood.
  6. Show your appreciation. Let your partner know what things you like that he or she does. The more you offer praise, the more you'll get of it in return, so both of you will come out ahead.
  7. When the going gets tough, seek out the support of a relationship expert. This person can be a valuable resource to help you and your spouse to learn new ways to communicate and support one another and approach situations as a team, rather than as two individuals on opposite sides of the fence. Tessina also suggests not waiting until problems seem overwhelming, but instead getting counseling early on to help you explore secrets to a happy marriage before the drama sets in. This will help you to address challenges by negotiating differences and find common ground so that you can solve problems and learn to create a happy marriage together.

Tina B. Tessina, PhD, and LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, MSS, reviewed this article.



Elliott Diana B. and Simmons Tavia. "Marital Events of Americans: 2009. " U.S. Census Bureau/American Community Survey Reports. Aug. 2011. Web. Accessed 16 June 2013.