6 Essential Steps to Maintaining a Happy Marriage After 60
Do you have a happy marriage? Over years as a relationship coach and counsellor, I am sharing my experience to help you bring your marriage back to what you dreamed it would be when you first met.
I will offer some very practical and specific ways to take action and experience positive change in your marriage.
Are You the Same Person You Were When You Got Married?
Of course not. Hopefully you have grown up a lot and are much more mature than you were a few years ago. Funny thing is, many couples I meet, quote this as a negative by saying things like, “You’ve changed. You’re not the same as when I married you.”
While I restrain myself from saying so, I am thinking things like, Well I sure hope so because we are supposed to continue to grow and change as life goes on.
Unfortunately, when you make a statement like the above, normally, it is not meant as a compliment.
Stages of a Happy Marriage or Seasons of Life
You may or may not know about the stages and seasons. Many couples I work with are very relieved to find that they are in a normal stage of their marriage. They are always relieved to hear that what has happened within their relationship is very normal.
When couples learn that most couples go through these stages or seasons, they usually feel a big sense of relief. They also tend to become more hopeful that there is a way out or a way through.
That Disillusionment Stage, where you discover you are each imperfect human beings, will eventually pass as you accept one another as you are. You may notice sometimes you are in a power struggle. Part of that power struggle can be trying to control one another and it can also be an effort on your part to change your spouse into a duplicate of you.
The stage I love is where you finally just accept one another as who you are and stop trying to change your spouse. Sometimes I call it the Live and Let Live Stage!
I want to share in the following paragraph a true personal story from my book available on Amazon, How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage: Stop Marriage Pain, Start Reconnecting!
After being married for many years, one evening while eating with friends in a restaurant, my husband said, “Since I gave up my self-improvement plan for Waverly, we get along fine. “I was rather taken aback by him saying it aloud to them, but as I thought more about it over time, I found it pretty humorous.
Taking Personal Responsibility for Your Own Stuff
Over the years, you may have gone into what I call auto-pilot living. You have not even noticed that for a long time now, you are operating or living your life without being aware of either your thoughts, feelings or your actions.
When that happens, and realistically it almost always happens, you and I drift into bad habits. Often you are no longer aware of how you come across to your spouse. You are no longer making the effort to be your best self or to interact lovingly and thoughtfully with your spouse.
Stop the Blame Game: Easy to Do, But It Doesn’t Work
All too often you fall into the habit of blaming problems on someone or something else. When you allow that to occur regularly, there is always an excuse why your attitude or actions are due to some outside force.
Interestingly enough, as you think carefully about it, there is always something in your life that is not perfect. Therefore, it becomes chronic to have a bad attitude or to be blaming without even realizing it.
There is always something you can blame. There is a very long list if you want to make one: your job, your spouse, your boss, your children, your parents, your in-laws, your neighbor, your lack of finances – it can go on and on.
What Actions are Available to You Right Now?
When you become aware of doing the above, you can take immediate action! I can promise you that getting a divorce will never fix all your problems, though many people believe it will; you will only learn later that similar problems follow into the next relationship.
When you are having marriage difficulties, it is very easy to blame your spouse. After more than 25 years of working with couples, I can assure you that one of the first actions to take is as follows.
Stop and take a truly realistic and honest look at yourself. When a couple is having problems, it is almost 100% true that it is not just about the marriage! When I am coaching a couple, I always help them each work on their own stuff as well as their marriage at the same time.
As you know, there are no perfect people in this world, so you and I each have a piece of the problem or situation.
The Key to a Happy Marriage: Be Respectful of Your Spouse
Being respectful can be one of the pieces to the puzzle. Over time, you may have become careless with how you treat your spouse. Are you treating them as well as you do visiting guests or strangers?
Maybe in the heat of the moment you have said mean or disrespectful things. Have you taken responsibility for them and sincerely apologized?
In your case, maybe it has never been words that have been disrespectful, but actions. Those actions could be the silent treatment, eye rolling or sighing loudly. The indication is the, I just can’t believe you are so stupid or whatever term you use in your head.
Have you ever considered divorce and then taken specific actions to save your marriage? What did you do? How have you dealt with difficulties in your marriage? We invite you to share in the comments.
Waverly Hanson is a coach, counselor, author and military consultant. Her positive, nurturing and gently challenging style works well with her mission to save marriages and help people find life choices. After 25 years, she is still awed by the hundreds of “miraculous turnarounds” experienced. Check her Relationship Quiz here.