The roles of men and women have changed in Western society over the past few decades and it’s now estimated that up to a half of all marriages end in divorce. Why has this happened? Are people more immoral than they used to be? Are modern couples not as strong-willed as ones in the past? No, divorce rates are now higher because the laws have changed, the stigma attached to a being a divorcée has been reduced, and society has placed a higher premium on individual rights. We all have a greater awareness of the fragility of life and that life really is too short to be unhappy and stick in situations that are no good for our mental and/or physical well-being. People are realising the importance of individual happiness against sticking together for some other reason (because they “said till death do us part” or to do so “for the kids” and so on) and enduring a life of unhappiness. An interesting post on the reasons for divorce can be found here, but in this post I’ll be discussing relationships that didn’t break down due to infidelity, a traumatic, life-changing or significantly stressful event, domestic violence or addiction(s).
There aren’t too many couples who aren’t madly in love when they first get married (with the exception being arranged marriages), so how does a relationship end up in such a state? People do change with time – not just physically, but their personality, likes and dislikes, and even beliefs. Think about the person you were five years ago, or even a year ago, and how much you have changed since then. The pace of modern life means these changes occur at a faster rate than ever before. If you don’t keep up to date with your partner’s thoughts, feelings and activities, you may end up loving the person they once were, and not who they’re becoming (and then feeling like you don’t know them anymore). This is one reason why couples ‘drift apart’ or feel like they ‘don’t know each other anymore,’ but is this because the relationship hasn’t been maintained properly? By maintaining your relationship (see our post on Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts) and by keeping the love strong by doing an occasional nice thing (see 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner), your love for your partner will change dynamically with time and be continually refreshed.
Perhaps the relationship just wasn’t meant to be? People – friends, as well as lovers – come into our lives to help form new chapters of our lives, some can be brief (a seasonal love), others longer, but there are some gems that last a lifetime. Sometimes we misjudge relationships – we can hang onto the wrong person, trying as we might to make things work, or we can give up the right person prematurely. It is incredibly rare for two people to find themselves exactly on the same page.
Or perhaps you weren’t being honest from the very start? Perhaps your partner fell in love with the person you portrayed to win their affection, and not your true self. Being yourself from the outset can avoid this later on. The longer you date someone, the harder it is to fake who you really are. As someone who’s been there before, and told a white lie or two to gain someone’s interest – in the early stages of dating, meeting someone say once a week or month, you can almost be anyone you like. This reminds me of the movie There’s Something About Mary, where each of the guys vying for Mary’s attention create their own fake persona to win her over.
The proliferation of romantic movies, including romantic comedies, can also share the blame as many of these give a false sense of hope and aren’t treated as merely a form of escapism. Treating them as realistic can give unrealistic expectations of your partner and your relationship, particularly when times are tough in a relationship and the parties involved think a quick and amicable solution can be reached immediately. Hardly ever are the normal, everyday parts of the relationship portrayed in a 90 minute movie (well, it wouldn’t sell movie tickets, would it?). This topic is also covered in Romantic comedies make us ‘unrealistic about relationships’, claim scientists and Romantic Comedies Are Ruining Real Life Relationships. However, there are a few movies that do keep it real – It’s Complicated, The Change-Up (except for the switching bodies part), This Is 40, Crazy Stupid Love, and the latest release, I Give It A Year, which looks at the trials and tribulations of a newlywed couple during their first year of marriage. The trailers for these movies can be found at the end of this post.
There are also scientific explanations for why feelings seem to change with time and why we shouldn’t panic when they do, but I’ll save that discussion for another day… stay tuned for Scientific Explanations For Love (And Why Hearts Seem To Change).
Why do you think couples drift apart? If you’ve been in a long-term relationship before, did something cause your relationship to break down?
Realistic Rom Com #1: It’s Complicated
Realistic Rom Com #2: The Change-Up
Realistic Rom Com #3: This Is 40
Realistic Rom Com #4: Crazy Stupid Love
Realistic Rom Com #5: I Give It A Year