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Divorce Proof Your Marriage, Today

by Jason Collins

I recently read an article from USA Today on the growth of what the author referred to as “gray divorce.” In other words, divorce in couples who are in their 50s and beyond. Since 1990, the divorce rate among American couples over 55 has doubled. For couples 65 or older, the rate has tripled. The break up of these long-term relationships can have devastating consequences on individuals and families. Financially speaking, neither partner is better off than before. Most see their wealth and standard of living significantly lowered. This is especially true for women. Then, there are the changing dynamics of the family when there are children and grandchildren involved. All of these relationships can become strained and more complicated. And finally, there are the personal challenges of spouses adjusting to being alone after such a long relationship, along with the anxieties and stress that divorce can bring. Here are a few basic thoughts and tips for how you can begin divorce-proofing your marriage today and build a relationship that can last a lifetime.

Plan for the future together. 

I find that many couples just assume they will be together for life without actually planning for what their relationship will look like. No one reaches a goal without a plan for how they will accomplish it. Spend time together as a couple and dream about your future together. Answer questions like these together: Where will we live? When will we retire? What will we do to stay active in retirement? It can actually be an exciting, relationship-building experience to paint a picture of life as you grow older together. And in the process, you are setting goals that unite you together as you strive for them.

Prioritize time together throughout your marriage. 

It’s so easy to allow your time spent together to diminish as you navigate through the hectic years of building a family and advancing a career. I’ve seen couples who spent so much of their time and energy on their kids and their work that at the end of the day, there was just nothing left over for each other. Fast forward a few decades. The kids have moved away. The house is empty. And many couples find they are living with a stranger. Here’s a helpful rhythm of life that I’ve encouraged couples to adopt…

  • 1 night every week
  • 1 day every month
  • 1 weekend (or week) every year

One night a week, leave the kids with a sitter and go have fun. Go out to dinner. See a movie. Attend a ball game. And then, one day every month, spend the entire day together just the two of you. Take a day trip to a nearby town, see the sights, and sample new restaurants. Get out into nature and do some hiking. Fill the day with whatever you both love doing together. And finally, take a trip once a year for at least a weekend. If you can get away for a whole week, even better! Reconnect emotionally and physically and make some lifelong memories.

Ask for help when you need it! 

If you know your marriage isn’t as strong as it should be, it’s never too late to see a counselor and make changes. Prioritize your relationship and get the help you need today. It’s never a sign of weakness or failure. It’s the best way to love your spouse and invest in your marriage.

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