Established relationships require maintenance

Q: Three years ago, we celebrated with my younger sister and her husband as they marked their 25th wedding anniversary. Today we are grieving.

For whatever reasons, they have decided to pack it in. They are getting a divorce.

This makes no sense to me. You would think that after 25 years of marriage, they would know each other well enough to keep it going. I do not understand this. Do you? If so, perhaps you could explain it to me.

A: I am not sure I fully understand what is happening to your younger sister and her husband either, but it seems to me that their divorce is carrying a number of messages for the rest of us.

The first and most obvious is that you can never take a marriage for granted.

Sometimes people think that they do not need to work on their relationship as much as they had previously done once they have passed the test of time. That is not true.

A marriage is an ongoing process. If you look at those who have great relationships within their marriage, you will find that they are always checking each other out, asking how they feel and not usually taking for granted that they know all that there is to know about their partners.

My guess is that while your sister and her husband were celebrating those first 25 years together, they put their diligence to their relationship on the back burner, where it withered and ultimately died.

The second most profound message we are getting from your sister and her husband is that marriages change over time.

The marriage that once worked as two people raised their families together might not be as rewarding once the children have left home.

They may have co-operated well while raising their children but left behind their intimacy in the process. Intimacy between Mom and Dad can become more of an issue once the children leave home.

The third message we can get from your sister and her husband is that people change over time.

Men tend to be goal orientated when they are younger, driven to success and wanting to build good homes for their families.

Younger women tend to be nurturing, sharing their love and sensitivity with their children when they are most in need of comfort.

But everyone ages.

Men tend to be more sensitive and caring as they get older, while women often find an intense interest in the dynamics of either political or entrepreneurial projects.

Individual change, otherwise known as growth and development, is a given within every marriage.

However, it is something with which Mom and Dad have to resolve if they are going to find the intimacy they need to carry on.

Sad as it is that your family is struggling with the proposed divorce of your sister and her husband, let us not forget that breaking out of old habits and forging new relationships opens opportunities for many people that they may not have otherwise had.

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