Is Marriage a 20 year Deal?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Claudia Anderson PG Dipl Psych, Registered MBACP
11th April, 20130 Comments
So you fall in love, engage in a committed relationship, marry after courtship, buy a home, have children, manage your careers, watch your children grow, get past the seven year itch, even make it past the next seven years for the sake of the children, only to find that the marriage is not working any more. By the 15th year the cracks are beginning to appear, and the slow painful journey of separate lives leading to divorce begins...
Whilst listening to a DJ/ Musician promoting his latest track entitled 'Free As a Bird' on the radio. I was struck by the lyrics, and once it was over, he spoke at length about why he had written it. He explained that the song had been inspired by a long term relationship that his former partner had abruptly ended. This had been after he had supported her in a secure home, raised her children as if they were his own - one was now in College, the other at University. He sounded relieved as he spoke, yet somewhat bitter. The jist of his words, both spoken and sung portrayed a man who now thought women were 'fair game' In other words his new approach to relationships was to be ' footloose and fancy free'.
So who sets the tone? Perhaps in some cases, women go into relationships with whole hearted intentions and when it does not meet their expectations, they become shrewd, cunning and resourceful. Is this a reflection of the 21st century woman? Whether she is a single Mother working part-time, using state benefits to supplement their income or an ambitious single minded Mother who has grasped that her long term stability lies in being financially independent, regardless of the cost.
A close friend of mine, now in her 16th year of marriage, spoke painfully to me about how her husband felt like her 3rd child. Other than fulfilling his vocational goals and dreams, once home he had to be 'reminded' to 'parent' his children, and be a part of the family life that he had helped to create. Their sex life virtually non - existent. She admitted that financially she was at a loss, having recently started working again. There had been long periods out of work, when she followed her husband abroad, in order to support him fulfil his professional ambitions. As a housewife, they had saved hundreds of pounds in child care costs, but had put the career she had begun before child rearing on hold. Now she was contemplating her future income and subsequent pension. She felt she had paid a heavy price, contented as a Mother, but frustrated as a Wife.
In another scenario a former colleague of mine (a divorcee with 2 children) told me that he was having to sit some internal exams in hope of promotion. He sarcastically added, "Its a case of having to. Got to make some money up, for the pension that my ex now has". What started as a passionate partnership, ended in acrimony and disharmony. Where the language of love became the language of territory and money.
What is the most that can be hoped for? If marriage is a 20 year deal, who wins? The Estate Agent, Divorce Lawyer or the Mistress? There will always be options and choices. Counselling can lift the fog of doubt and confusion, not as 'the other half' of a dissatisfied marriage, but as an individual, who can start to see the road ahead and rebuild your life, and the future for your children.
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