The combination of age and many years spent together does not inoculate couples against marriage difficulties. Marriage counseling in our Westchester County office often includes older couples going through very real struggles. If you and your spouse are in that place, you have nothing to be ashamed about.
People change over time. So do their relationships. It is normal to struggle every now and again. From our perspective, the key to overcoming is understanding the root causes. Marriage and couples’ counseling exists for that very reason.
As counselors, we attempt to help clients get beyond the superficial symptoms of relationship troubles to expose root causes. Once those root causes are uncovered, we can help clients come up with workable solutions.
Though there are many reasons older couples might struggle in their marriages, here are three we encounter quite often:
1. Couples Feel They’ve Grown Apart
Young couples getting ready to marry can feel like the world is their oyster. They feel like they have tons of things in common, things that will hold them together for a lifetime. They may not feel the same way 25 to 30 years later. Instead, they may feel like they have grown apart.
When couples talk about growing apart, what they generally mean is that they no longer feel they know one another. This is often the result of so many years spent raising kids, paying the bills, and trying to build a future. Husbands and wives get so bogged down just keeping their heads above water that they fail to invest in one another.
Once the kids are grown and gone, they have a lot more time on their hands. Then it dawns on them that they no longer know each other as well as they once did. The good news is that this sort of thing can be overcome.
2. Couples Feel a Lack of Fulfillment
An extension of growing apart is the feeling that life isn’t fulfilling. This particular issue has its roots in two causes. The first relates back to the previous issue. Couples work so hard at raising the kids and paying their bills that they have little time or energy to think of anything else. Then, as they approach retirement, they look back and question what they have accomplished.
The second root cause is a misunderstanding that marriage should make one feel fulfilled. It rarely does, nor is it supposed to. Marriage relationships can contribute to fulfillment, but they are not the sole source of such feelings.
3. Different Goals for the Future
Finally, older couples might struggle in their marriages because they have different goals for the future. This particular challenge is rooted in the reality that life changes drastically once parents become empty nesters.
It is easy for a couple in their twenties to dream about what retirement will look like. It is easy to imagine traveling the world and enjoying hobbies they will not have time for while they still work and care for the kids. It’s not so easy to agree on the future when retirement finally arrives.
Different goals and visions can make it quite hard for older couples to agree on a direction once the kids are grown and gone. If they cannot come to some sort of compromise, their different goals and visions can drive them apart.
Again, the three things discussed in this post are very normal. Any couple experiencing them is certainly not alone. All can be addressed by way of couples counseling. To that end we are here to help if you and your spouse are struggling right now.