Whatever the circumstances, it’s challenging and often hard to accept divorce after 20 years of marriage. However, those married for 20+ years are considered the demographic more likely to get divorced today. According to the UK Office of National Statistics, the number of marriages resulting in divorce by their 25th wedding anniversary has been rising. In this article, we explore the key reasons behind why couples choose to divorce after two decades of marriage.
- The love has gone
Although everything else in their family life may be good, over time, older couples can lose the spark they once had for each other. Daily routines and commitments can take away the time spouses need to connect with each other, gradually resulting in them simply falling out of love. Although some couples stay together even when the love has gone, many spouses now take the opportunity to find life fulfilment elsewhere.
One of the main reasons for divorce across all ages is cheating. Although both men and women cheat on their spouses, statistically, men are more likely to be unfaithful. According to the Institute of Family Studies, in America, men are more likely to be unfaithful to their partner as they grow older, with men in their 70s at its highest.
As we age, we often learn more about the importance of independence, and the freedom that comes with it. If, after having children a spouse has found they are now financially independent, this can be a precursor to separating. One half of a couple may realise that they no longer need their spouse to provide for them and believe a good quality of life is possible on their own. Although not true in every case, it is often women who leave a marriage in pursuit of a greater sense of freedom and liberation.
- Poor communication
Good communication is key to the success of any relationship, and marriages are certainly no different. If partners do not express their wants and needs effectively, then communication breaks down. This breakdown can lead to misunderstandings, continued conflict and underlying resentment, all of which cause a damaging disconnect. As well as feeling loved, it’s hugely important that each partner feels understood, listened to and respected.
- The nest feels empty
When bringing up children throughout the course of a marriage, it can be a big shock when they eventually leave home. Parents may feel a lack of purpose, or be grieving their children’s presence as the family home now feels different. An empty nest also often gives rise to underlying marital issues now more able to come to the surface. It can also make couples realise that they have grown into different people from who they were when they first married.
- There’s abuse or addiction issues
There’s no question about divorcing if there are serious issues like abuse or addiction within a marriage. Domestic abuse can happen at any age, whether it’s physical, financial, or sexual. Addiction problems such as drugs, alcohol, and gambling can also play a harmful role in long marriages. Although there are often valid reasons behind addictive behaviour, if both parties have sought to get help but one spouse is unwilling to do the work, this often results in filing for divorce.
The reasons for divorce are often complex and may consist of a combination of the aforementioned factors. However, as divorce continues to be more socially acceptable, couples are no longer bound by a duty to stay in an unhappy marriage, no matter how long they have been together.