Guest Blog Post by Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW, Couples Counseling Expert
In recent years, there has been a large increase in the divorce rate among couples who have been married for 30 or more years. Many of these breakups occur after the child-raising years because so much time has been focused on the children, and not on one another. Suddenly living together again as a twosome, partners may realize how different and separate their lives have become. They can find themselves fearful of aging, depressed over their situations and unsure about their future.
In the later years of your marriage, you may need help more than ever
You may need to regroup, refocus and refresh your marriage and not know know how to proceed. If you take these seven tips below and see what happens, you may be surprised by the results. If you decide to go to a skilled therapist, he or she can help you have more dialogues and fewer monologues and discuss feelings as well facts. Most long-term married couples have their nests refilled with boomerang adult kids and visits from kids and grandkids throughout their lives. It’s important to never forget the number one person in all these relationships—their spouse. Their needs as a couple should always be top priority.
7 Ways Couples Counseling Can Help
1. Guide you in re-establishing and increasing your connection by talking more often, more openly and more honestly. It takes courage and a willingness to be vulnerable with your partner, but you can’t expect to have your needs met if your spouse doesn’t know what they are or can’t hear them without defensiveness.
2. Increase your physical intimacy. The therapy room is a safe place to talk about the quality and quantity of your sexual relationship. A counselor can suggest ways to improve your sex life, such as scheduling dates or trying new positions. Statistics show that couples who have sex at least once a week are less likely to divorce.
3. Enjoy spending time together again regularly as a couple. As a marriage counselor, I recommend spending a few hours alone together at least twice a month. You don’t have to spend money to do this: take a long walk on the beach or plan a picnic lunch in the park. Don’t talk about the kids and be affectionate on your date.
4. Focus on increasing the amount of non-sexual touch in your relationship. Both men and women have affectionate needs. Hug each other when you get home from work and end the day with a good-night kiss; trade foot massages. Couples who have more non-sexual touch report being happier with their relationships.
5. Help you develop outside friendships and interests. You can’t expect your partner to be your everything—that just sets you both up for disappointment. Every woman needs a girlfriend; every man needs male friends. Couples who spend time with other couples report having happier marriages.
6. Discuss and release old hurts that have never been resolved. With the assistance of a professional counselor, you can move past the incident. Forgiveness is a powerful tool in creating long-term happiness.
7. Renew your love. Marriage counseling can reinforce your commitment to each other and refresh your relationship. Plan for this new phase of your life by setting mutual goals.
If problems arise, there’s no shame in getting the advice of a marriage counselor or couples coach
Seeking therapy is often a last resort. But if you wait until things are bad, the situation is often a lot more difficult to repair. The best time to get help is when you notice a recurring pattern that causes tension or strife. This commonly occurs when the children leave home, precipitating the Empty Nest syndrome. Nip it in the bud, and renew your commitment to your significant other. Make this next phase of your life the best for you both.