Jane Seymour: After 20 years, Is Marriage Easier or Harder?
Staying on top of trust issues
Posted Apr 17, 2013
Ah, trust issues. Let me first begin by saying it is always a jolt when a couple has been married for a long time and then decides to end it. It is unnerving and hard to understand why and how they prevailed for so long but didn’t ultimately succeed at their union. Shouldn’t marriage get easier as time goes on? Certainly by now they must have figured out how to adjust to each other’s needs and make things work.
This takes me back to the trust issues. Sometimes there are problems that surface early in a marriage that are simply swept under the rug. Maybe the couple tried to deal with whatever was in question, but they were busy, with new careers and perhaps with kids. Life was coming at them full throttle and they might not have had the energy or focus needed to get to the foundation of the trouble. They were probably also quite hopeful that this person they chose to spend the rest of their life with was the right choice. And they were pretty committed to proving that fact, for the sake of their lives together and for their family- the one that might already existed or the one they dreamt about creating in the future. So they let unresolved issues go by, even excusing some questionable behavior. And thus at least momentarily they jumped the hurdle of whatever they were upset about. But if that problem was not fully resolved, to its core, it can sink deep and take root where it can smolder.
Flash forward fifteen or twenty years. Imagine that those unresolved issues have been there all that time, beneath that argument they have over and over about the thermostat or keeping the car clean. In my book What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, I talk about The Never Ending Fight in which a couple has the same heated disagreement over and over and over. Every time it crops up it is open warfare. The years have gone by, but the issues are the same, and now each person doesn’t have quite the hope or the tolerance they did at the beginning of their marriage. In addition to that, the time they have shared has only served to clarify the odds between them. It gets to the point where they have hit their last nerve, and so the marriage finally begins to crumble.
It isn’t funny, but it does remind me of a joke. Bessy and Sam go to see a marriage counselor after fifty years of marriage. Bessy says she wants a divorce. The marriage counselor asks her why, after all these years, is she making that decision now? And Bessy answers, “Because enough is enough!”
Sometimes enough is enough, and it takes a lot of courage to end a marriage after so many years together. One way to avoid reaching that point is to make sure those trust issues that appeared in the earlier years of your marriage don’t go unchecked or ignored. Take the time then to work through them. More than anything people want to feel they are safe in their union and they can trust their spouse. But if that remains elusive, and you are truly unhappy, don’t let the amount of time that you have shared hold you back from making an important change.
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