Are you over 40? Have you lost that loving feeling? Are you worried your marriage might fail? Is one of you withdrawing from the relationship, while the other is desperately holding on? Too many mid-life marriages go under, just when the couple could finally be enjoying their time together. If you answered “yes,” to any of these questions, I hope you’ll read on.
After working with thousands of couples for more than forty years, I know how difficult a time this can be. First, mid-life itself turns out to be the most difficult stage of life for most people. Studies from around the world show that people are happier when they are younger and get happier again later in life. But the stresses of life between 40 and 60 weigh heavily on people.
The statistics are not heartening. Somewhere around 50% of first marriages end in divorce and 60% of second marriages end badly. Even marriages that stay together are not always happy and many people deal with emotional problems as a result. Divorce rates for adults over forty have doubled in the last twenty-five years.
Anyone who has gone through a mid-life divorce knows how devastating it can be. There is the loss of the dream of happiness at this stage of life as we remember the words of the poet Robert Browning, “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.” There is also the loss of financial stability as a couple dismantles all they’ve built over the years. Finally, there’s the prospect of starting over and rebuilding a life when you are 40, 50, or 60.
Fortunately, there is a way to prevent the mid-life marriage meltdown so many people fear. There is a way to move forward to a life that is even more passionate, powerful, and productive than ever before. You can achieve real, lasting, love.
As most of us know, necessity is the mother of invention. After I had gone through two hopeful marriages and two painful divorces, I decided I would stay single forever or find the secret of real lasting love. Fortunately, I found the secret. I also found my true love. Carlin and I have now been together nearly 40 years. I wrote about what we learned in my book, The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the Best is Still to Come. You can get your copy here and now.
The key to preventing a midlife marriage meltdown is understanding the 5 Stages of Love and specifically, the purpose of Stage 3. Here are the 5 Stages:
- Stage 1: Falling In Love
- Stage 2: Becoming a Couple
- Stage 3: Disillusionment
- Stage 4: Creating Real, Lasting Love
- Stage 5: Using the Power of Two to Change the World
Most everyone is familiar with the first two stages. In Stage 1, we are attracted to that special someone and we fall in love. In Stage 2, we become a couple and we build a life together. We think the next stage is the final one. We imagine Stage 3 as “And they lived happily ever after.”
We don’t understand the real purpose of Stage 1 and 2. From an evolutionary perspective, falling in love is nature’s trick to get us to pair up. Becoming a couple is nature’s way of getting us to have kids so that the species goes on. It was never designed to make us happy.
So, what’s the true purpose of Stage 3, Disillusionment? From an evolutionary perspective, its to pull us apart so we’ll go find other partners and have more children. But what I learned is that there’s a much more glorious purpose that can lead us to Stage 4, Real Lasting Love, and Stage 5 Finding Your Calling as A Couple so you can change the world for the better.
The potential of Stage 3 is to force us to get real with ourselves and our partner, to let go of the illusions we project on to each other. It also can help us truly become the person we were meant to be. It can also help us heal the past wounds from the family we grew up in (and yes, we’ve all been wounded and we all have some healing to do).
I’ve found that the work we do in Stage 3 may be the most important work we’ll ever do, both for healing our relationships and also for becoming the person we were meant to be. I consider relationships to be the graduate school of life. We need support, training, and courage to navigate through all 5 Stages of Love.
I also learned that we don’t just go through Stage 3 one time. We often spiral deeper and deeper as we return to the issues that Stage 3 brings up and we can heal even more. Like all Hero’s Journeys, this one is challenging. But it can also be fun and exciting. I invite you to join me on the journey.
I’ve developed three programs to help you successfully navigate all 5 stages:
#1: The Self-Help Program which you can follow with my book The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the Best is Still to Come.
#2: In-Depth, personal, private, sessions for individuals and couples with me.
#3: Join the Diamond-Tribe where you are part of a unique community of high-quality men and women led by me.
Many choose 1, 2, and 3. Some choose other combinations. If you’d like more information about how to achieve real lasting love, drop me a note to [email protected]. Put “Real Love” in the subject line and tell me what stage you’re in and what challenges you are facing and I’ll send you all the information.
Originally published on Men Alive
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