All you have to do is tune into the average sitcom and you know the truth about sustained, long-term relationships, right? Married couples stop having sex. They fall out of love and spend the bulk of the time getting on each other’s nerves. The men leave their women for 20-something blondes or sports cars and the women channel all their attention into the kids, growing distant from their husbands and disinterested in pleasing them.
And, those few couples that manage to stay seemingly happy for the duration of raising their families, are then inevitably hit by a curve ball when college time comes and Empty Nest Syndrome sets in. They find they’ve got nothing left to talk about!
If you’re worried that it’s just a matter of time before your relationship implodes… or worse still, simply fizzles in the face of time, think again! These myths about lasting love are exactly that – myths! Here’s why:
Fall out of love
Couples don’t simply fall out of love We’re all always changing. This much is true. However, in a truly communicative relationship, people grow together. That doesn’t mean they always get along – or that they never annoy each other. But committed couples who share their lives (the good, the bad and the boring) with their partners learn to weather the highs and lows of life and inevitably, by virtue of shared experience and mutual support, become closer… not more distant.
The trick to making sure you don’t “fall out of love,” is working on staying in it. It may sound cheesy, but a relationship is like anything else. Tend to it, nurture it, pay attention to it and you won’t be caught off guard… at least not too often. And when problems or situations arise that seem like they’re out of left field, you’ll have the ability to reign them in and work through them together.
Sex can improve
We’ve all heard the stories of the middle-aged couples for whom sex simply stops mattering. Sure, this can happen. But the idea that sex will inevitably stop or slow down – or become monotonous – is a fallacy. The safer you feel with your mate, the more open the two of you will be to expressing your needs and interests in the bedroom. According to a recent Canadian study, which revealed that what partners communicate about what they want in bed is directly linked to how happy they are with their sex lives, expressing themselves (and listening to their mate) is the key to sustaining a satisfying sexual relationship. And the benefits of openness don’t stop there. In addition to fostering mutual satisfaction during the sex itself, if you make it a point to talk about sex (no matter how difficult it is at first), you’ll find that it increases intimacy and makes your relationship outside the bedroom a spicier, more playful one.
Mid-life does not mean mutiny!
It’s true that people re-assess their lives in their 40s and 50s, but what used to be called the “mid-life crisis” is not restricted to men, and it’s not usually a crisis! Rather, it’s a natural re-evaluation that comes as perspectives shift and life transitions occur. After all, transitions don’t stop once you say I do or grab the brass ring! Careers plateau, kids go off to college, that passion you’ve suppressed becomes a driving force as opposed to a backseat passenger… all things that should make individuals and couples have a look at their lives and how they want to be leading them. Change is scary, but it can also be inspiring. And making a personal shift can be reinvigorating to a relationship. Pursuing your passion or supporting your spouse in doing something they’d like to do breathes new life into your partnership rather than creating distance. After all, the goal is to be two fulfilled, constantly evolving parts of a fulfilling and consistently expanding whole.
An empty nest is not empty
Lastly, if your big fear is that your kids will go away to college or move out of the house and you’ll have nothing to say to your spouse, take heed. Marriages do not dissipate in an instant. And if you’ve taken the time to foster your relationship over the years – even when the kids have taken priority (which is often an inevitable part of parenting), you will find yourself faced with an exciting new chapter rather than a terrifying and potentially distant one. Talk about an opportunity for spicing things up! Now you two can focus on each other again… and on yourselves. And the best part is, you’ll have the time, energy and more money to do it.
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