The relationship between husband and wife is one of the most important relationships that you will ever have. In her book “Passages” Gail Sheehy likens this significant relationship to that of a diamond. I would like to try and describe this diamond to all Boomers so that you can attempt to plot what the diamond in your life looks like.
The beginning of a marriage is a dream come true for most couples. The picture may be one of sunshine, roses and dreams of how we will live our life together. The honeymoon can last long beyond the holiday. The Bible tells us that we become “one flesh”. It is easy for us to communicate and openly share our thoughts and feelings about life, challenges and dreams with each other during this stage. This is the point at which we begin to draw our diamond, very much at one starting point, together.
Then, life starts to happen around us. We will most likely both be building our prospective careers. The decision to have children will be on the radar. Then, your first child is born – one of the greatest blessings that any couple experience together. Once the joy and wonder of this little miracle have passed, reality hits us. We chase life, career, goals, friendships and our general pace of life is fast and busy during this stage. Other children follow. Career decisions and climbing the corporate ladder challenge and excite the journey. At times it may start to feel as if we are passing one another like ships in the night and never get the time to communicate. This is when each partner begins to draw the opposite sides of the diamond shape.
This stage continues for as long as our children are at home. How long this stage lasts is dependent upon how many children you have and the age difference between them. On average though, it is a period of between 20 and 25 years. Life is filled with family holidays, various school events and playing the happy couple in the corporate world. Your most important relationship however, is often put on hold due to stress and busy-ness. It is critical to make special time for the two of you to communicate and grow together during this stage. We need to make time for “date nights” and weekends away without children, friends and family. The woman wants to feel loved and cherished and the man needs to know that he is still the most important person in his partner’s life. At this point, the opposite sides of your diamond will be at the widest distance apart, unless you have continued to communicate strongly with each other and have regular time together.
The beginning of the Third Age in your life is when the children leave home. There are a lot of complex emotions going on in the minds of any couple at this stage, the most common being the “empty nest” syndrome. This is most likely to affect women who may not have re-entered the marketplace after the birth of her children. The man may be in high adrenaline mode and successful in the corporate world. The other side of the coin also can also present itself at this stage. The man may be retrenched or feel that there is no joy in the drudge of work on a daily basis. It is very common for couples at this point to battle to re-engage and discuss who they are and what they need. Most individuals need to spend time alone and then together to try and work out what all this means for the future. Sadly, at this stage, many feel it is time to part as they don’t seem to have anything left in common. This is the most important part of how the diamond will regain its shape. We all have choices and can make a concerted effort to try and communicate, work out the issues and learn to fall back in love with this person you have been sharing a house and life with for the past 25 years.
The Third Age should be one of the greatest stages of your life. You are with a person who shares a history and children with you. The responsibility of parenting is over. You now have the opportunity to spend quality time together with less financial strain. You have your best friend at your side and you can travel and experience new and exciting things together. This part of the diamond moving back to a point can be fun as you discuss your dreams and challenges. I hear many complain that these conversations don’t happen. The men want to withdraw from life, women want a new career, and there is no common ground. I want to challenge you that it is worth fighting for. Please spend the time trying to find that love and recommitting your life to one another. We are a generation that has had more divorce than any other generation. It must be so sad to part at this stage and not work at rediscovering the wonder and mystery of the person who wears your ring.
I hope that this article will stimulate conversation for you as a couple and that you will value the diamond in your life. May you have a long and interesting journey back to the point of your diamond.