Long Term Marriages

Couples therapy can help you build upon the strengths of your relationship while assisting you in figuring out what to do better in the future.

You and your spouse have been married a long time. You’re a decade or two into your marriage. You’re clearly committed. And yet, something isn’t working. Couples therapy can help you build upon the strengths of your relationship while assisting you in figuring out what to do better in the future.

What Is a Long Term Marriage?

These days, a majority of marriages end in divorce. If you’ve been married for ten or twenty years then you’re already beating the odds. However, just because your marriage hasn’t ended in divorce doesn’t necessarily mean that it is successful or fulfilling in the way that you want it to be.

A long-term marriage means that you made the commitment and you’ve stuck to it. However, it doesn’t mean that things are perfect. You might now find yourself questioning what the future brings. On the plus side, you have a lot of wonderful memories together. On the negative side, you might also have a history of stressors and resentments. Therapy can help you figure out where you stand today so that, if you decide that you want to, you can have another few decades of a happy marriage ahead of you.

Thoughts From Long-Term Marriages

For better or worse, you have a long history of this relationship behind you. Hopefully you have a lot of joy, satisfaction, and positive memories that you can build upon. However, if you find yourself focused more on the negative, then you certainly wouldn’t be alone.

Here are some things that people commonly find themselves thinking as they age together in their marriages:

  • “The kids are grown. Our careers are stable. But now what?”
  • “(S)he just isn’t the same person that I married.”
  • “We finally have time for each other but we can’t seem to connect.”
  • “So many things have happened. Can we ever really love each other the same way?
  • “Is this all there is to life and marriage?”
  • “Sure, we love each other, but …”

In other words, one or both of you may recognize that you have a long history that you don’t just want to give up on. At the same time, something just doesn’t feel satisfying. You have just as many years ahead of you as you do behind you. If you’re going to stay together, you want a relationship that offers more fulfillment than you currently experience.

Therapy Helps You Work Through the Past

Every couple has a story about their relationship. In fact, each of you probably have your own version of that story. Therapy is a safe space for you to come together and relate that story to one another. It’s also a place to re-tell that story so that it serves you and your relationship better in the future.

After a decade or more together, you’ve got a long story to tell. Perhaps it begins with beautiful early days. Then it devolves. You have built up years of small or large resentments, habitual patterns of relating, and arguments that seem to occur again and again without resolution. You assume things about each other and have stopped even listening to what the other has to say. It feels like there’s a huge distance between the two of you, and you’re not sure if you can ever bridge that gap.

Therapy helps you create that bridge. You can learn to really share and hear each other in new ways. It feels daunting, and perhaps even impossible, but if you come to therapy with an open mind then you might find yourself surprised. You might discover that your partner surprises you. It certainly isn’t easy to examine the past and work through it. But it’s possible. And if you want to move forward, then it’s critical.

Therapy Helps You Set Goals for the Future

Therapy isn’t only about dredging up the past. As you learn to communicate anew, you may also find that you want to think about the future. For so long you’ve probably just been existing together. The “future” had to do with what would happen with the kids, where you would move for a job, what the holidays would look like each year. But what about the future of the two of you and your marriage? It’s a wonderful time to start thinking about that again.

In therapy, you can start to identify what your new hopes and dreams are. The past has formed a foundation under your feet, but you can still sprout new leaves and grow together. If everything were ideal, what would you want to happen in your marriage in the years to come? Therapy can help you uncover those dreams, figure out how to make your dreams match your partners, and set plans for the future.

In a TEDTalk, Esther Perel said, “Most of us are going to have two or three relationships or marriages, and some of us are going to do it with the same person.” You have changed. Your relationship has changed. But that might be a wonderful thing. You might be able to start a brand new exciting relationship with the person you already have a long term marriage with.

“Our ability to achieve profound happiness, serenity, and richness of the inner life depends, more than ever before, on the quality of our marriage, and a high-quality marriage today is uniquely fulfilling.”
– Eli Finkel

As a therapist, and as a human, I understand the joy and challenges that come with long term marriage. I want to help you discover what you truly want out of the next decades you have together. Contact me today to get started on the path to achieving that.