Growing apart in a marriage doesn’t just happen

Growing apart in a marriage does not just happen
Growing apart in a marriage does not just happen
Image: 123RF / Katarzyna Białasiewicz

Perhaps the biggest reason couples give for divorce these days is, “we grew apart”.

And this is often said with somewhat of a helpless posture as though they couldn’t avoid it.

When you carelessly walk in the middle of a busy road without giving attention to motorists, it’s a matter of time before you will be hit by a car. That’s not rocket science.

When you choose to live selfishly in your marriage, developing your own independent lifestyle to the neglect of your spouse, you will grow apart.

And when you don’t “show up” in your relationship, it will die. That’s not rocket science either.

Showing up means being available to your spouse on a consistent basis.

It means being present to your partner’s experience of life: what they’re going through, what they’re concerned about, and what makes them happy.

It’s consciously devoting quality time to just the two of you as a couple to connect emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally.

It means being aware of what your partner needs and wants from the marriage, and if it’s reasonable, giving it to them.

This may sound like a simplistic statement to make but every time yet another couple divorces because “we have grown apart”, it didn’t just happen.

It’s a choice they have made (to grow apart), unwittingly or not.

Furthermore, growing apart in marriage doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over a period of time.

It can be the small everyday decisions you make or that you stop doing the little things that communicate appreciation to your spouse.

It can be prioritising other things — including work — or people above your spouse.

It can be being in perpetual ignorance of your spouse’s love language. And it can be focusing on your own interests and recreation instead of developing a friendship with your spouse.

The most common reasons for growing separately are unmet expectations, living parallel or separate lives, inability or refusal to accept your partner as they are, boredom, codependency and the way couples deal with stressors.

Let’s explore some of these:

Marriage boredom

You can make your marriage very boring. This is usually punctuated with deadening routines, cyclical arguments and repetitive conversations.

Marriage boredom is underscored by predictability and passionate dislike of uncertainty.

It’s that very dislike of uncertainty that makes the couple likely to go to the same restaurants to eat the same type of food, buy at the same retail stores, and visit the same holiday destination at about the same time of the year.

They’ve become so loyal that they automatically trade adventure and discovery for safety and predictability.

Go outside the norm of your repetitive marriage life. Do things differently as a couple.

Drive a different route, invite over a new couple outside your typical social circle, spice up your sex life ... just do stuff differently and try new stuff together.

Marriage isn’t boring, you are.

Developing separate lives

Growing apart is not imposed upon us by some mysterious outside malevolent force, we allow it to happen to us.

We need to be proactive and set aside regular time intentionally, to show up in our marriages and check-in with our spouses.

Living together in one home doesn’t mean you’re living the same life together.

Just because you’re sharing a home, bills, mortgage, cars, or have children together, doesn’t mean you’re a couple in a healthy, happy and intimate marriage or relationship.

Living separate lives is just one of the common marriage problems many couples face in a fast-paced world, and going faster all the time.

Though technology allows us to stay connected and keep in touch more frequently, instead it appears to be driving a wedge between couples as each attempt to keep up with their social network and jobs, leaving little time for each other.

Living separate lives will definitely cause you to grow apart.

It doesn’t take too much to realise that living independently can take away the connection and joy you could experience from a strong relationship.

Married couples are intended to function as a team, each having their own interests and jobs, yes, but always coming together as a unit in the end. Otherwise, what is the point?

Everyday life stressors

Life is full of challenges that can put a strain on a marriage.

Big life events such as the birth of a child, buying a home or an illness can cause a couple to withdraw from each other due to stress.

This happens because spouses often have different ways of coping with stress.

For instance, one person may be extremely emotional, while the other is cold and business-like.

Without the right marriage tips and advice, the couple will eventually become frustrated with each other’s behaviour.

Codependency

Codependency refers to a situation where one spouse constantly makes sacrifices for the other spouse’s happiness, without getting much in return.

In these situations, one person overworks by worrying excessively and feeling responsible for the other, while the other underworks by constantly asking for help with things they can do for themselves and basically taking more than they give.

When the overworking spouse eventually gets tired of giving up their own needs to meet the needs of their partner, the couple inevitably drifts apart.

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