You wake up with a jolt – where did the last 25 years go?!
You sit up, scootch to the edge of the bed, and poke your toe around on the floor in search of a slipper.
Things still feel empty.
It’s been a few months since your youngest moved out. Now, it’s just you, your husband, and the big empty space looming between both of you.
Initially, you thought the feeling had to do with being empty nesters for the first time. You thought it would pass.
But months later it’s still here. Things are different.
For those who have been married for a while and most of the marriage was spent working and raising a family, it’s hard to realize the toll that busyness takes on the marriage itself. It takes the kids growing up and moving out, retirement – things slowing down – or other life events to realize how much the marriage itself has been neglected.
What Happened to the Marriage?
Spending decades working and raising a family requires a lot of energy. It’s the equivalent of two full-time jobs. So, it’s no surprise that tending to the marriage gets forgotten.
What many couples fail to realize as they get caught up in other areas of life is the investment and depth they once shared, being available and present in their relationship, wanes. Sometimes disappearing completely.
The marriage could appear to be fine; there’s no major outward signs of trouble, such as big fights or breaches in trust. However, when it’s ignored for years, partners start to drift apart. Sometimes the chasm between the two grows so vast, that divorce seems like the only solution.
Currently, those aged 50+ make up a quarter of the divorce rate. This has been coined “gray divorce,” for obvious reasons.
And while there are definitely situations where filing for divorce is warranted, such as escaping a toxic or abusive situation, sometimes the decisions stem from other circumstances which eventually lead to regret.
Here are some of the common reasons behind gray divorce:
Loss of connection and “spark”
Unhappy in the marriage
Longing for something new
Dating apps are making it easier for everyone – including older generations – to date, and that coupled with a desire to find closeness with someone may be fueling some of divorce decisions.
How to Avoid the Common Regrets
Having history with someone – experiencing the ups and downs of life – is special.
For those who were once close and have drifted apart, reigniting that closeness is possible.
People who have been in a relationship for a long time may glorify the idea of sex with someone new. They may perceive dating as fun – which it can be – but it’s also draining, a lot of work, and sometimes a lot of heartache. And that’s if you find someone you like.
If you find yourself in a situation where – after decades of looking after other people you finally have the time to work on yourself – take full advantage of this time.
Often, we seek validation from others, we turn to other people to make us feel seen and good enough. Before making any big decisions, individual therapy can help you get to the bottom of what’s really going on, and couples counseling can help you and your partner realign as you navigate this new chapter of your life.
Therapy is the best way to get in touch with yourself, understand your needs, and learn how to love and be there for yourself.
After therapy, if you end up staying together, your relationship is more fulfilling because you have worked hard to get there. And if you get a divorce, you’ll have a better idea of what to look for in a future partner.
At the Relationship Therapy Center, our experts help people navigate rough patches in all of their relationships, including times of confusion and conflict with self. Feel free to reach out if you want to learn more about what we do, how we’ve helped others, and how we can do the same for you.
Begin Divorce Counseling or Discernment Counseling in the Sacramento Area or via Online Therapy in California:
For most, divorce is a major life transition and a huge loss. Either individually or together, we can help you walk through your difficult conversations as you separate. Let’s help you have a divorce with dignity and respect. To begin divorce counseling in Fair Oaks, CA or Roseville, CA, please follow these steps:
Contact the Relationship Therapy Center. This link will allow you to schedule your free 20-minute phone consultation to learn more about discernment or divorce counseling,
Meet with one of our compassionate marriage and family therapists
Begin divorce counseling and learn how to separate in a respectful and thoughtful way.
Other Services Offered at The Relationship Therapy Center:
In addition to divorce counseling and discernment counseling, Our Sacramento area counseling clinics located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA are pleased to offer a variety of mental health services. Our couples services include: Couples Counseling, Counseling after infidelity, sex therapy, co-parent counseling, family therapy, divorce counseling, intensive couples retreats, and premarital counseling. Our individual therapy services include anxiety treatment, therapy for children, teen therapy, depression treatment, codependency counseling and individual relationship counseling. Our therapists offer online counseling in California to treat a variety of mental health concerns. Please reach out to our Sacramento area therapy office to learn more about the many ways we can help you or your loved ones.