If only our vows went like this: “In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, in good times and in bad, and in menopause…” The reality is, divorce rates are rising in the United States, and there are so many different factors that cause couples to go their separate ways. But many women wonder, “Will my marriage survive menopause?” If this article is speaking to you and your own relationship, do not feel bad. Countless women in the throws of their menopause journey worry that one day they may say “menopause destroyed my marriage.”
Here’s a look at menopause and divorce statistics, and some ways to improve the outcome of your own relationship.
Menopause and Divorce Statistics
Between 40% and 50% of first marriages fail in the United States. These numbers are even higher for people who are on their second and third marriages. In the past few decades, divorce rates have increased exponentially. There are many theories as to why this is, but there is a surprising trend in divorces: women initiate 60% of divorces in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.
Sure, several factors contribute to this phenomenon.
- People live longer now, so they don’t want to be in relationships that won’t make them happy for the next 40+ years.
- People change – you and your spouse may have wanted the same things in your 20s, but by your 40s, 50s, and 60s, you may have grown apart.
- Life may get too stressful with careers accelerating, parents aging, and children moving out or starting their own families.
- Life may also get too monotonous with careers becoming stagnant, routines becoming bland, and excitement and adventure become non-existent.
- Finances may become an issue of contempt.
Of course, there are also cases where a partner cheats or develops an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or gambling. And sometimes, you just plain fall out of love.
But what about the natural changes in your body that occur during your 40s-60s? Is this contributing to the high menopause divorce rate?
If only our vows went like this: “In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, in good times and in bad, and in menopause…”
Why Menopause Causes Divorce
All marriage counselors will likely agree that the number one thing needed for any relationship to succeed is excellent communication. But between busy schedules and less quality time spent together, couples often miss the communication boat. What is more, women in menopause have a hard enough time understanding and sometimes accepting the changes in their bodies. So, trying to explain those changes to their partner can be even harder.
Things that can contribute to menopause divorce include:
- Depression, sadness, and anger
- Feeling unwell
- Loss of interest in sex
- Physical changes like hot flashes, sore breasts, joint pain, and vaginal dryness
- Lack of energy due to hormone fluctuations and poor sleep
The menopause transition is undoubtedly hard on women and their partners. Furthermore, as couples age, they tend to develop more chronic health conditions that strain their relationship, including intimacy. Indeed, most men find that their biggest issue is that their female partners lose interest in sex during menopause. What is more, men also go through a transition around this time as well that causes them to feel older (male menopause, anyone?). Therefore, heterosexual couples can have a hard time understanding what their partner is going through.
When you read all of these things, it sure can feel like everything is against you. But aging together can be a wonderful and beautiful journey, so long as you maintain open lines of communication.
Tips On Strengthening Your Marriage During Menopause
Use these tips to avoid menopause divorce regret.
Communication. Again, the best way you can maintain a healthy relationship is keep the lines of communication open. Schedule check-in dates or talk together every morning over your coffee to keep each other on the same page.
Honesty. Be open with what you are going through. Don’t leave anything out. Are you struggling with menopause rage or painful intercourse? Let your partner know!
Take a walk in your partner’s shoes. You are each likely going through some major transitions. If you feel disconnected, put yourself in your partner’s shoes to see what it would be like to be married to you. Envision what they are seeing, hearing, and feeling from you every day.
Take advantage of alone time. Likely if you have children they are more independent at this age, so you may be able to spend more time as a couple. Do new and old things together to keep the spark alive.
Do the dishes together – Research has found that couples who share chores have more sex. Let your partner know about this research if they are complaining about your lack of interest in sex. They may jump at every opportunity to take the trash out and sweep the garage.
Work on yourself. Investing time and energy into bettering yourself has positive effects on your relationships. Find out what this looks like for you – perhaps it is exercising more or learning a new skill or hobby.
Seek Counsel. Talk to a therapist who can help you learn to cope with the challenges you are facing during these years. For example, marriage counselors can help you and your partner learn to navigate challenges and increase your communication skills.
Learn to play again. Sadly, many of us forget how to play as we go through adulthood. If you and your partner are lacking play, re-learn how to have fun together. Get adventurous, creative, and silly. Laughing and learning together are great ways to help you reconnect and find joy in your relationship.
Are you worried your marriage is suffering from menopause? You are not alone! Many women fear they will one day say menopause destroyed my marriage. Join other women in peri/menopause in our community to connect, grow, learn, and laugh a little (or a lot!).
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.