OF YOUR LIFE
Is your marriage as strong as you think?
ILLUS TRATION B Y KAGAN MCLEOD BY PEPPER SCH WAR TZ, PH.D.
Fighting the 40-Year Itch
As a relationships researcher for
38 years, I’ve learned there are two
kinds of silence in a marriage. One is
the frosty silence of people who have
checked out of each other’s lives.
The other, like Di Mauro and Burr’s,
is more companionable: Partners
are on the same wavelength, sharing
thoughts via glances and gestures.
In a world where seemingly stable
and happy 40-year marriages collapse without warning, we may wonder about the structural integrity of
our own partnerships. Is your marriage on solid ground? Here are seven
potential warning signs—and when
they are really cause for concern.
N A TYPICAL SATURDAY NIGHT, DIANE DI MAURO
and her husband, Antonio Burr, might visit a mu-
seum in Manhattan, then have dinner. But instead of
chatting, they’ll often have long intervals of silence
at the table. Ditto on the drive home. In fact, Di Mauro and Burr can spend all day
together and barely speak. They’ve been a couple for 30 years. Are they in trouble?
Di Mauro doesn’t think they have a problem. “I feel sorry for couples who
don’t understand silence,” she says.
Your partner asks for space
WHAT I T USUALL Y MEANS Over time,
couples often go from visiting the
mailbox together to pursuing hob-bies—or even vacationing—separately.
That’s okay: Time apart creates room
to miss each other and bring new
experiences to the relationship.
WHEN TO WORR Y If your spouse no
longer seems to enjoy your company,
or gets angry or dismissive when you
suggest time together, there could be
something else going on, such as an
affair or serious depression.
You fantasize about others
WHAT I T USUALL Y MEANS Thinking
about sexy people is the most ordinary thing in the world. As the old
saw goes, you’re married, not dead.
WHEN TO WORR Y If you can’t become
Learn how to keep your job from deflating
your love life at aarp.org/stresslove.