Tag Archives: Marriage

Marriage can be a precarious place for women in their 40’s…

When a married woman reaches 40, and often older, her life begins to change. The children she longed to have are growing older, her education has begun to pay off as she has developed her own career. She is earning her own money and is contributing to the household income, often significantly. She has developed a broad and strong support network of other women and co-workers who she trusts, and who provide her with emotional support in addition to social outlets. She has matured. She has developed a “net” for herself. She has reached a different place in her life, emotionally.

The decent, loving, stable, nice man she met 15 or 20 years ago, now her husband, is a good father and provider, and yet she discovers that she does not need him in the same ways that she once did.  So why are so many women at this life stage finding themselves questioning their own feelings and asking themselves “Am I crazy for thinking about leaving?” He doesn’t drink heavily, he’s loyal, he is smart, he loves me, he doesn’t run around at night, and we get along. Slowly, her life which use to feel very fullfiling suddenly feels vanilla. When she speaks to her family and friends about her feelings she hears “What is wrong with vanilla?” or “are you crazy? he’s such a good guy and father you should feel lucky! I think there something is wrong with YOU!” So, she tells herself that she just can’t leave. She can’t justify it. And she can’t hurt him. Her feelings are suddenly not as important as these things in the face of logic. She tells herself that she really has no good reason to leave. She just can’t get out. Marriage is a commitment and it has its ups and downs right? And besides things can’t always be exciting that’s unrealistic. There are dips in all relationships. So she waits, hoping things might feel better. She may ask her husband to go to counseling but he’s not really doing anything wrong. It’s her own emerging feelings that are driving her ambivalence. She says to herself “If I can only hang in there another few years until the kids are done with high school”. The safety, consistency, and love, she once felt, the children they have together  shouldn’t it all be enough? These things once gave her great joy. Yet SHE has changed inside. Her emotional needs have changed, she has grown, she finds herself feeling lonely in the marriage. These are some conditions that often create a dangerous and vulnerable environment and for an affair to be set in motion. Women having affairs isn’t talked about much in social media, but it happens quite frequently. Women simply aren’t as comfortable revealing or owning such behavior.

Many of the reasons that woman marry when they are younger are fulfilled by their 40’s. By that time they are much more comfortable in their own skin and more emotionally mature. Later in life they can  provide for themselves, and the emotional needs they had in their 20’s have been realized. They have also become more comfortable and secure with themselves and the world. Emotionally, they have a built a network of friends and support, financially, they have begun to make their own money, martial sex has become flat as the emotional connectedness has diminished. Conversations have become dry and routine. It is often described to me as an ” unexplained emptiness” never felt before. The desire remains to have a partner yet she doesn’t NEED to be with anyone. She is filled with guilt, angst and confusion.

Of course all relationships go through ups and downs. Especially those that span a decade or more. The stress of raising children, financial changes, job changes, experiencing loss through death, and tragedy that is just life. Couples therapy can significantly help with recapturing the intimacy and connectedness lost over time. It cannot however, change an individual’s  sense of who they have become or how they feel. If one person in the marriage is not “all in”, no matter how wonderful their husband or wife may be, it might be time to change direction. Feelings are feelings, needs change, what you have to offer now may not necessarily be enough 15 years from now for your spouse.  Women are emotionally dynamic and organic creatures. Sometimes it may be about the relationship. Sometimes though it may just be about us. 

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Simple Rules for Communication

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It’s hard to know how to argue. We learn from our parents, and if that tells you anything like most of us, it’s a skill that requires learning. If you follow these basics I promise you that communication becomes easier. I’m talking about how to talk not solving the issue itself.

1. No Name Calling: Do I need to list these? Nah

2. No Interrupting: Let the other person finish. Interruption when a person is trying to share their view STOPS the process and doesn’t allow the other person to be heard. Bite your lip. If you are talking or thinking about what to say next, you are not listening.

3. No Character Assassination:  These are allegations that the person you are fighting with might be a bad or unpopular member of his family, have a bad relationship with his or her friends, co-workers or children or is not respected by his colleagues.  Or that he/she had issues with his or her X that was similar. Not nice, not needed.

4. No Physical Violence: No hitting, throwing of objects, punching, scratching, spitting, you get it.

5. No Leaving the Room: Unless you are going to give yourself a time out to cool off, leaving in the middle of an argument is a power move and avoidance. It makes the other person feel unimportant, disrespected, and cut off. If you feel things are not getting anywhere and escalating, tell the person you’re arguing with that you need time to cool off AND (this is key) TELL THEM WHEN YOU WILL RETURN TO FINISH THE DISCUSSION AND WHEN It should be within 24 hours at the latest. An hour or two would be best. Or if you’re really good 10 minutes should do. Otherwise the topic never gets fully discussed and goes subterranean. Only to come up another time, most likely in the middle of your next fight

6. No Switching:  This occurs a lot when I see couples and it sounds like this:  

Person A ” When you leave stuff on the floor in the bedroom, it makes me feel irritated. I have asked you to work on this and you keep doing it! ”  

Person B “OMG are you kidding me? You leave your dishes everywhere in the house, your one to talk”.

Switching STOPS the process and will easily send you both onto another million tangents that you both are angry about. Lots of couples do this. If you want to bring up an issue bring it up SEPARATELY or at another time. Not this time.

7. No Abusive Language:  In other words no cuss words or vulgarity. It’s easy to say things like this when we are angry. The only thing this does is give us release but in doing so, it  shows disrespect toward the other person and STOPS the process. Use words that mean the same thing. I know it’s hard to find another work for “fuck!”   (My personal favorite), there are a zillion other things you can say when things are heated.