After several years of marriage are you and your spouse drifting apart? Are romantic evenings for two only a fond memory? Lately does it seem like your spouse is “just there”, someone you need to stay with at least for now “for the sake of the kids”? Is the only passion left in your marriage a passionate disagreement over every little thing? I trust there has been no terminal fracture (e.g., an extra-marital affair, domestic violence)–your marriage simply is becoming old hat. You have been struggling in your relationship for so long that it’s tough to remember why you got married in the first place.
This blog’s consistent challenge for you at middle age is to wake up to life! Middle age can and should be your best age and that includes your marriage. As an initial step to get your marriage back on track, ask yourself five questions:
- After all these years, is my spouse still my best friend? Do I share my innermost thoughts and emotions with my spouse or do I hold certain things back?
- Are my spouse and I in a genuine 50/50 shared life partnership? Do I do my fair share planning and controlling finances, helping out around the house, spending time with family and disciplining the kids? Does my spouse do his or her fair share?
- Would my spouse’s life be more or less fulfilling were I not around? Imagine the ideal mate for my spouse today. How well do I fit the picture? How much am I willing and to change to become a better match?
- Do I really know who my spouse is today–what he/she wants out of life, what makes him/her happy and content and what my spouse wants from me? Can I become a true life partner without abandoning my own goals and aspirations?
- Are the two of us intimate as man and wife or have we become strictly “mom and dad” to the kids and “business partners” in managing the household? How often do my spouse and I go out on romantic dates just for two? Are shared activities, with or without the children, adventurous, unpredictable, fun-filled and fulfilling for both of us?
If you can’t answer a resounding “yes” to all five questions, then your midlife marriage today is not all that it can be. Even if you did answer yes to all five, would your spouse give the same positive responses? You and I both know that over time a marriage never really prospers unless both husband and wife are fully satisfied.
Following introspection, sit down with your spouse and talk it over. At middle age, are both of you committed unequivocally to restoring a full loving partnership and sharing a stress-free, joy-filled and purposeful second half of life? If so, here are a few common ingredients found in successful marriages all around the world:
- Togetherness–time and energy spent with your spouse on common interests–recreational, volunteer, socializing–things both of you like to do. Raising your children in harmony certainly is one strong candidate but can you think of other shared activities for just you two?
- Truthfulness–no lies, large or small. Once trust is broken, it is extremely hard to restore.
- Respect and kindness–the golden rule. No marriage can prosper without these two, from both spouses.
- Mutual fitness and pride in appearance–your body is your castle; strive to look and feel your best both for yourself and because you love and respect your spouse and want him/her to be attracted to you.
- Shared finances–a joint bank account and a joint tax return. No major purchases or financial commitments without prior spousal consultation.
- Careers in sync–each spouse respects the other’s career alongside his or her own. No unilateral decisions that would uproot a spouse or disrupt his/her career.
- Frequent communication, both verbal and tactile–pay attention to what your spouse has to say and look him/her in the eye. Embracing, holding of hands and tender touching go a long way to making your spouse feel loved and wanted.
- Surprise and unpredictability–do something positive your spouse is not expecting. Move beyond boring; take spouse and kids out tonight to dinner and a show for no good reason.
Your husband or wife is that one person with whom you agreed to partner for life. Replay in your mind all the things you loved and admired about this person when you first began dating, when you fell in love, when you proposed (or accepted a proposal) and when you two were newlyweds. Remember how much you were willing to sacrifice back then to make your mate happy and fulfilled? Over the years, has this person really changed that much or is it mostly your attitude? Why shouldn’t your spouse’s happiness bring you joy and mean as much to you today?
For additional advice on restoring a full loving relationship to your midlife marriage, tune in to the May 6, 2013 broadcast of my weekly Internet radio program “Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age.” My esteemed guests are America’s love and marriage experts, Doctors Elizabeth and Charles Schmitz, who have interviewed happily married couples in all 50 states and in 48 countries on all seven continents. During our interview, the doctors reveal and expand upon secrets shared by happily married couples in highly diverse cultures all around the world–secrets that you can adopt as your very own. Beginning on May 6, you can tune in our program any day or time at your convenience. To make connection, simply google “middle age your best age”; our program link is at the top of page one.