When it comes to relationships, I’ve been very lucky. There were a number of failures over the years, but I found my current partner when I was just 20 and 12 years later, we’re happier than ever. My parents were also together throughout my life. They had their problems, but up until the death of my mother this year, they had been happily married (or happily tolerating each other at least).
But it seems that they were the exception, not the rule. Contrary to what you might think, it is actually more common for a married couple to get divorced than it is for them to stay together. The US divorce rate is greater than 50% and in states like California it climbs above 60%. If you venture further afield, to countries like Belgium, the rate is higher still.
So, what are the major issues for married couples these days, what are the things driving them apart?
Money troubles can break any marriage if they are serious enough. Money should be split between the couple. There is no “my money” only “our money,” but when this breaks down and one person begins spending more or staking more of a claim; when they develop a spending habit, a gambling addiction or something else financially draining, problems arise.
Financial problems in marriages have actually led to many murders between husbands and wives. Whether it’s the husband who takes a weed-whacker to trim the hedge, before deciding to trim his wife’s neck instead, or it’s the wife who takes out insurance policies, ends the husband’s life and cashes in, there are countless cases of death relating to financial issues in marriage.
Children should never blame themselves for the breakdown of a marriage, but let’s be honest, they usually have something to do with it.
I’m joking, of course, but the simple act of having children can create tension in a marriage. A child that comes early in a relationship leads to the couple settling down and getting married, even though they might not have done that if the child wasn’t on the scene. When this happens you have a couple who have committed to spending a lifetime together long before they lived together and spent enough time together. In other words, they are committing before they truly know if they are a good fit for each other, which is why so many relationships like this end in divorce. And if they stick together to avoid the child custody battle, then they remain bitter and resentful throughout.
Children can also cause problems that stretch the relationship. Can you imagine how difficult it must be for a couple if a child starts getting involved in fights, drugs and criminal activity, or even if they become possessed! Okay, that last one is a stretch, but as many parents will tell you, most kids are just a can of Coke away from becoming possessed by a mischievous spirit and then destroying your home.
Some of the leading causes of breakdowns include a lack of quality alone time; a low-quality sex-life; and a change in lifestyle. A child can trigger all of these changes.
A marriage is built on trust and if that trust begins to break down, then the marriage follows. If someone in the relationship cheats then even if the other person forgives them, that cloud of uncertainty will always hang over them. They will never quite trust them as they once did and the relationship has a considerably higher chance of failure than if it didn’t take place.
It’s not just cheating either, any kind of secret can plant a seed of doubt when it is discovered and the more secrets and more discoveries, the more those seeds will grow. Hidden addictions, habits, past experiences – all of these can lead to a gradual breakdown.
Although we tend not to admit it, we’re all a little vain. If we fell in love with our partner because he was a super-fit bodybuilder, or because she was a super-slim model, and they pile on weight during the marriage, then it can cause problems.
Usually, we stick with them because we love them and because that love has transcended anything physical, but temptations occur, people stray and that causes trust issues. In people who are naturally jealous, it can also cause issues when a partner suddenly loses a lot of weight. I can’t count how many men I know who have suddenly become immensely jealous of their partner after they lost a lot of weight following the marriage. They worry that they are doing it because of another man, they worry that another man will take notice, and they worry that because they haven’t changed and their partner has, it will cause them to seek intimacy elsewhere.
It’s mostly a male jealously thing and it’s because more men see a relationship as something inherently based on sex and physical attraction, while women tend to focus on the emotional aspects.
We should all be happy when our partners become healthier, but it seems that most of us treat it with suspicion and meet it with jealously.