Saturday, 31 March 2012

When midlife crisis leads to divorce

Couples in their 40's at high risk of divorce?

An article in The Times on Friday 2nd March highlighted the highest 'risk' age for divorce as 40 - 45. "They are often living 'parallel lives' and spending what little spare time they have on their own thing", says Baroness Tyler, CEO of Relate. She continues "They are probably working long hours. They have little time together and a typical evening would see one of them on their laptop while the other watches TV. They find it harder and harder to relate to each other... Communication becomes difficult. In terms of divorce, that is the group I think we need to think about".

The latest statistics support Baroness Tyler's statements. Although the divorce rate has been falling since 2002, figures published last December, show a rise of 4.9%, with the sharpest increase among couples aged 40 - 45. 

Our experience suggests that by the time couples have passed through the relentless pressures of rearing young children, they've often lost the habit of connecting with each other. It is not uncommon for people to tell us they've drifted apart - all too often without noticing the danger signs until it is too late. And when this mid-life crisis turns to divorce, the pain of splitting their life apart can be measured in more ways than just the sum of half of their assets.

Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas

The War of the Roses

This film captures a scenario we see all too often with couples who are stuck in their home together as they begin their divorce. Director Danny DeVito captures this fiasco in its full, blackly comic awfulness, through the eyes of a divorce lawyer who recounts the progressively crazy story to a prospective client. Barbara Rose (Kathleen Turner) can't stand her husband, Oliver (Michael Douglas). He still loves her...but he loves their big, beautiful, antique-filled house more. Tensions escalate until the hostilities erupt into a full-scale, no-prisoners war.

Do the movies mirror real life? Certainly 'life' gets in the way of many relationships as the pressure of children, careers and caring for elderly relatives take their toll on the 40 somethings. It can be easier to retreat into a personal space and not have to wrestle with the demands of a stressed spouse as well as everything else.

Resources for couples

It's worth spending a little effort and a little money now if you find yourself in this position.
Hoping time will pass and it will magically get better is as sensible as hoping the tooth fairy or Father Christmas will bring you the magic solution. A bit of targetted maintenance to your relationship is much cheaper - financially and emotionally - than a lengthy repair programme or the hefty bills associated with divorce or separation. 

This article started with a quote from Baronness Tyler, so we must mention the many online resources, articles and books offered by Relate, to help a couple through this 'tired' stage of their relationship.

We specialise in working with couples 

Two of us for two of you. We help you recognise the 'dances' of your relationship and find the common ground to re-build things even better than before. If you're not sure, we always offer a free 20 minute phonecall to check out if we are the right people for you to work with. Go to our web site for details 

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