When you have been married for a long time, you might think certain thing are “just the way it is”. You might even compare your marriage to others and tell yourself “were not that bad” or “I wish we were more like them”. The truth is, ALL marriages have problems… even healthy marriages.

What if I told you there are things that are common in all marriages… They could lead to divorce if couples do not identify and rectify these issues right away.

What if I told you there was a reason…

Wedding rings

Marriage usually works like this…

Disclaimer, not every marriage will experience these or the difficulties mentioned below. These were the result of a recent study that was done on marriages. When research is done on a certain topic, it’s performed on a group of people and the common outcome is taken and studied.

Dating/Wedding day/Honeymoon

We want to look our best, act our best and impress each other. Time goes by and you get engaged, spend a year planning the wedding of our dreams until that special day arrives. Family and friends come from all over to celebrate the love you and your fiancé are exuberating out of your glowing faces. That night, well… you know!

First 2 years

Honeymoon Stage! We love this phase. Newly married and have recetly joined your lives together. You are able to see each other day in and day out, go on trips without many limitations and … have sex whenever (and wherever) you want!

Next 5 years

The “honeymoon stage” is over and this is when things start to settle a bit. This is because it’s the first real “phase” of the marriage. Stuff just got real and quick! This is when most couples add kids to the mix, a new career and your extended family is more involved because of this. You are working together and focused on being new parents.

7 years in

Talking about “ish” getting real… this is the “we were not ready for all of this at one time” phase. Kids, daycare, sleepless nights, date nights are long gone and careers are demanding. Routines are now a necessary and everyone feels overwhelmed and under appreciated.

10 year mark

In recent studies, researchers found that at the 10-year mark of a marriage, problems tend to be at their worst. Couples have now gone approximately 8 years (not counting the first 2 years) without giving much to their marriage because of all of the examples listed above. They give enough to get by and in passing because you both are trying to juggle it all and survive.

These are also the years couples will face some of the most difficult and exhausting chapters of parenthood. The kids are busy and involved in many activities. They are at the age where they are getting in trouble more and causing problems. Parents are trying so hard to keep up with them while maintaining the long list of their personal daily to-do list. Unfortunatly, this doesn’t leave much time to focus on their spouse.

15 years in

Studies show a light at the end of a tunnel. The good news is many of these issues and any dissatisfaction begin to decline at this stage. If we can push through past the 10-year mark, we are downhill from there. This also contribute to the kids getting older and more independent as well as careers are going well. There is more time to focus on our marriage again!

What can couples do while going through this?

Don’t let this scare you or discourage you from doing everything you can to optimize each opportunity to show your spouse you still love them and are still attracted to them. They key is to … WORK FOR IT! Marriage isn’t easy and if anyone try’s to tell you otherwise, don’t take any advice from them… ever again.

They way you and your spouse handle the first 10 years are detrimental to your future. Many parents focus on the kids and leave their spouse to fend for themselves. This is so dangerous in a few ways. One possibility is infidelity and the need for the “neglected” spouse to fill certain needs, feelings and desires.

There is another issue we see often is when so much focus is put towards the kids. Guess what happens when all of the kids are gone… the couple is now together again without the children and they don’t know each other anymore.

There are things we can do to keep our “fire lite” in the first 10 years.

  • Find a marriage counselor that can help guide your marriage and help you to see the problems
  • Take time together and get away
  • Set aside time everyday just to be together
  • Communicate
  • Laugh together
  • Focus on the positive
  • Pray together
  • Ask your spouse why they need from you from time to time
  • DON’T GIVE UP!

A word from the wise

Here is a little marriage advice from one of our very own Optimized Life members.

When you get married and then encounter challenges, it is easy to blame the challenges on the marriage. After all, that’s what changed, right? But the truth is that the intimacy of marriage is like a fire that pulls the dross of what already existed to the surface. Of all the issues you face when married, 40% are your pre-existing faults, 40% are your partner’s faults and only about 20% are a result of being married. So don’t point fingers or jump ship (because your 40% will be sure to follow you, and you can bet there will be compound interest with each intimate relationship you pile on). Instead, acknowledge your faults, forgive, apologize, be brave, get a mentor, go to counseling, confront your past, work on your stuff and give your spouse the space and grace to fix his/her stuff. It’s worth it!!! Let the dross rise without fear and when it’s all said and done, you’ll get pure gold!

Megan M.
Family Pic

Well said Megan! I love the part when you said “acknowledge your faults, forgive, apologize, be brave, get a mentor, go to counseling, confront your past, work on your stuff and give your spouse the space and grace to fix his/her stuff.” (Mic drop)

Work on YOUR STUFF and give your spouse the space to FIX THEIRS! That’s amazing advice for anyone.

Here is one more piece of advice from another Optimized Lifer

“Ryan and I have both been married in the past. For different reasons, it those marriages didn’t work out but the most important thing we have to remember is NOT to bring our past baggage into this one. We have been married for 7 years now and our “stages” looked a little different from the typical stages mentioned above because we both came into this marriage with children. He had one child and I had 2 children. We were full force from day one and jumped right into stage 7. A year later, we welcomed a sweet boy into our lives. Now we are complete. The sad truth about marriages today is half end in divorce. There is a bigger percentage in second marriages. This is because people take their same baggage and bad habits that lead them to their first divorce into their new marriage. They are also more likely to give up quicker because they have an exit strategy. Look at yourself and identify areas you need to change in order to eliminate any possibilities for this to happen.

Sandi T.
Family pic

This article is meant to encourage, support and motivate you. It helps to understand why things happen and to know you are not alone. Every marriage has “things” and struggles. My hope is you will find a few ways to stay connected and live your best life possible with your spouse.

We would love to hear from you!

Please comment below and let us know what stage you are currently in and what helps you and your spouse.

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13 Comments

  1. This is a great article! My husband and I will celebrate 6 years of marriage, and 15 years together this year.

    The important thing to remember, in every stage, is that you are on the same team. Learn each other’s love languages, and communication style.

    When mistakes are made, and hurt happens (either from your partner, or something you are going through together like a miscarriage or infertility), be open and honest.

    Its in that vulnerability that beauty happens. The strength and resilience you might admire in other marriages didn’t just occur overnight. It’s intentionally choosing to love each other, even during those times you don’t like on another.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article! Thank you for sharing your insights!

    Cori
    This Maagnificent Life

    • Optimized Reply

      Hi Cori! I love your advice. Thank you so much for commenting and adding extra value to this article.

  2. I definitely think couples underestimate how marriage changes over time and you need to put in more effort to make it work. We hit a rough patch at 10 years (13 together). We had to commit to a strategy for communicating in a new way plus accept each other’s faults without using them against each other.

    • Optimized Reply

      HI jenn! Thank you so much for sharing your marriage struggles with us. I love your advice on coming up with a strategy to communicate and accept each other for who you are. Many readers will definitely take away value from your commen. Thank you so much

  3. This feels so true! We hit a serious rough patch at 7 years in. We’ve been doing a lot of hard work since, and are hitting 10 years this fall – and celebrating with a kiddo free trip to Paris! It certainly feels like we’re coming out of that tunnel.

    • Optimized Reply

      Good for you!! Please let me know how the trip went.

  4. We got married right out of high school and I’m so glad we did. While it’s not been easy and we’ve gone through some hard things we never anticipated…I love and respect my husband more than ever. Celebrated 14 years of marriage in May!
    Great article!

    • Optimized Reply

      That is so sweet and a great story. Thank you for sharing!

  5. We have been married for 5 years and we have two littless. A 2 1/2 year old and an 8 month old. It’s super busy, and that definitely takes a toll on our marriage. But we try to prioritize our marriage with date nights and small get aways. I look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel at 10 years… lol

    • Optimized Reply

      It is so awesome that you guys are taking time out of your busy life to stay connected. I promise it gets easier.

  6. Yes to all of this! My husband and I have been married for 5 years now, and it is quite obvious when we are not being intentional with our marriage. Things start to feel off and we feel disconnected. We try to make it a habit to cook together once a week, have a weekly date night, take quarterly vacations (even if they are just weekend trips!), and share 3 things we are grateful for each night after we get in bed!

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