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The One Thing That Can Make A Longtime Marriage So Very Hard

We were headed for divorce. But here's how we turned things around.

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Chaaya Prabhat
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You have probably heard that having children is one of the hardest jobs you can have, and I can attest to the truth in that statement. I turned 50 this year, and my husband 53. We have two adult children, a daughter 24 who will have her first child two months from now, and a son who is 19 and in his sophomore year of college. My children have been a blessing that have come during 28 years of marriage.

My husband is smart, successful and funny, and just an all-around good guy and great father. I can tell you, though, those terrific traits do not necessarily make him a fantastic husband.

We have a grand partnership, and can agree on things like money and how to raise our kids, which are big issues that couples struggle with. What makes marriage hard is the little things that you don’t agree on — and there can be a million of those. These smaller issues do add up, especially if you don’t communicate well with each other. Communication really is key, but just knowing that does not make it any easier to improve.

My husband and I can argue over which way the utensils should be placed in the drawer. I like some in one direction and some in the opposite direction, and he likes them all facing one way. When renovating our bathroom last year, I wanted a bathtub and he wanted a shower stall. I like the temperature in the bedroom at 70, he likes it at a frigid 67. Couples have so much to agree on and when you add children to the mix, the number of compromises increases exponentially.

I have compromised on things I didn’t want to and so has he. We have had arguments that have lasted days or weeks. We have gone to counseling, which I do highly recommend that couples at least try if they are having any issues at all. I have learned that it is best to seek a marriage counselor when the issues are small. Don’t wait until they are so big that you don’t even want to sit next to each other during the counseling session.

We didn’t go until we were married for 18 years and were heading for divorce. My husband was the one who resisted but I think ended up getting a lot out of it. He changed, and so did I during our time in counseling. I do recommend not stopping when things are better though, as we did. We have gone on and off over the years, and I think it’s best to go even if it’s once per month just to keep communication flowing.

Many years of marriage can be hard, don’t let anyone try and tell you otherwise. Any couple I have ever met that has been married a long time will agree with this. If you have a spouse that you value, it can be worth it to keep trying. I know that some couples may read this and think “if it’s that much work then why bother, relationships should be easy.” There isn’t a single relationship that doesn’t require work, and relationships are never easy. What you need to determine is how much you value the relationship. That will help you decide if the work is worth it for you.

Every relationship is different, and the factors you weigh will undoubtedly be different than mine. I like to laugh though can sometimes be wound a bit tight, but my husband makes me laugh. When deciding on how to handle finances, we can work together and have similar goals for the future. When dealing with our children, we try to get ourselves on the same page before handling the situation. These are the things that make my marriage worth saving. If you can come up with your own list of things that are important and are being fulfilled by your relationship, then you are on the road to a long marriage.

We know that almost half of all marriages will end in divorce or separation. I love my husband and do not want to be part of that statistic. It can sometimes feel as though it is easier to end the relationship, move on and try and find a partner that may be better — or different in some way. Many people do choose to move on, and only you can decide if that is the best option for you.

I think that sometimes you should consider the bigger picture. Sometimes the silverware faces one way in the drawer and sometimes another, depending on who unloads the dishwasher. We try and keep the temperature around 68 or 69 at night. I think about how much we have accomplished in our lives and careers — and what a beautiful family we have — while soaking in the tub.