I recently read that 42% of marriages end in divorce and that out of that 42%, around half of these happen in the first 10 years of marriage. The median duration of marriage before divorce is 11.9 years.(stats website). If these figures are correct that means that Dad and I have done roughly half of our marriage already, as in the next few days Dad and I are going to be celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary.
In our marriage there have been a few lows, and a few times where we have both wanted to throw in the towel, however there have also been immense highs. Our relationship has undoubtedly changed with every child we had, however it has also got a lot stronger in certain areas.
I decided to ask my parents who have been married for 37 years and are still going strong and as happy as ever what their secret is…
The answer was trust and knowing each others ‘faults’ so adapting to cope.
Trust seems like a natural answer, and one that is generally earned to a degree. Once broken it can be built up again,slowly but surely, however it does take a lot of work from both sides. Unfortunately trust can sometimes just never be regained. So I can see why trust is a major part in a relationship.
I raised an eyebrow when my parents said about adapting to cope with each other’s faults until it was explained a little bit. My dad loves a little bit of DIY however, he is also a major perfectionist. This can cause him to get stressed and can be hanging one piece of wallpaper for awhile. It can also lead to my mum getting frustrated as the wall looks absolutely fine and my dad has to strip it down again to start over. In 37 years they have worked out how to work round the arguments and tension in the house. My dad now takes annual leave to decorate and my mum either; goes out for the day, or goes on holiday for the week, depending on the size of the job. It makes quite a lot of sense when you look at it like that, my dad and mum are never going to change, so instead of getting frustrated and arguing they just work around it in a way where they don’t have to have the situation. Obviously this isn’t always the right way to deal with annoyances, if your partner cheats, I am not for one second saying to ignore it, but the little pet peeves that everyone has just work around it 🙂
I asked Dad how he has stayed with me for 6 years, knowing that I am not the easiest of people to live with, and his response, ‘why do you think I have a shed?’. Talking to various people again with long long marriages this also seems to be a key point. Just because your married, does not mean you have to do everything together. You need space apart, even if it is just an hour. We all need us time and having a place to completely chill or a time to completely be by yourself to calm yourself after some tension, seems like a general consensus in the married couples of a few years.
One of the biggest points that I read and got told about was that although your children are your world, make sure you put your spouse and your relationship above all else. Our children still think they are the centre of our worlds, however Dad and I make sure we do things just us, even if it is getting a take away and being a potato on the sofa watching a film. It could mean taking a walk without the kids, while their at school. It is not talking about potty training, or tantrums for an hour on date night/day (we do date days when the kids are in school). It just means, remembering your a couple as well as parents.
Some marriages just don’t work out for various reasons and that is unfortunate. Sadly, when your child has a disability the divorce rate significantly increases.
Families with one or more disabled children have higher than average divorce rates. For children with autism, some researchers report divorce rates of 85%.
I am not a therapist or a professional to be able to analyse why this happens but speaking from personal experience Dad and I are constantly tested. Tested through how to parent MO and his autism, tested at whether to put BBG through further painful tests. Tested through being tired, worried, stressed every waking (and even sleeping) moment of your life. You either become each others rock or push each other away. Sadly looking at statistics it looks like it can eventually turn to pushing each other away.
I don’t know if Dad and I will be one of the statistics I have spoken about in this blog, I hope we won’t but we haven’t got a crystal ball. We are fighting against the odds, I am confident we will beat them.
What would you say is the recipe for a long lasting relationship, whether married or not?