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Unformatted text preview: Relationships in Middle Adulthood By middle age, more than 90 percent of adults have married at least once. Married people often describe their marital satisfaction in terms of a U-curve. People generally affirm that their marriages are happiest during the early years, but not as happy during the middle years. Marital satisfaction then increases in the later years after finances have stabilized and parenting responsibilities have ended. Couples who stay together until after the last child leaves home will probably remain married for at least another 20 years as long as their intent was not to wait until the last child leaves the home to divorce. Divorce Middle adults do not exhibit an immunity to problems in relationships. About 50 percent of all marriages in the United States end in divorce, with the median duration of these marriages being about 7 years. And of those that do last, marital bliss is not always a prominent feature. Why do so many marriages dissolve, and can spouses do anything to ensure that things work out? Relationships dissolve for as many reasons as there are numbers of relationships. In some cases, the couple cannot handle an extended crisis. In other cases, the spouses change and grow in different directions. In still others, the spouses are completely incompatible from the very start. Long- term relationships rarely end because of difficulties with just one of the partners. Conflicts, problems, growing out of love, and empty nest (feeling a lack of purpose in life or emotional stress in response to all the children leaving home) issues inevitably involve both parties. The course of love changes over time, and these changes may become evident by middle adulthood. The ideal form of love in adulthood involves the three components of passion, intimacy, and commitmentcalled consummate love , or complete love. This type of love is unselfish, devoted, and most often associated with romantic relationships. Unfortunately, achieving consummate love, as Sternberg noted, is similar to losing weight. Getting started is easy; sticking to it is much harder. For many middle-age couples, passion fades as intimacy and commitment build. In other words, many middle adults find themselves in a marriage typified by companionate love , which is both committed and intimate but not passionate. Yet love need not be this way, nor do such changes necessitate the end of a long-term relationship. In contrast, many middle adult couples find effective necessitate the end of a long-term relationship....
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This note was uploaded on 12/04/2011 for the course ANTHRO 2000 taught by Professor Monicaoyola during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.
- Fall '10