Women in Love
How to keep your relationship strong through the decades.
Women in the "deuce" decade need partners who will be
able and willing, even if only grudgingly, to share the burden of housekeeping,
doctors visits for the kids, bill paying, and all of life's other major and
minor annoyances (paying attention, guys?). It's equally important for partners
to stay flexible, Gottman says. "Particularly in this day and age of
recession there can be job instability -- that's throughout the ages -- and
couples need ways of handling the stress of changes in jobs, etc."
Friendship, with its implicit values of patience,
understanding, compassion, and cooperation, is the key to weathering both the
peaks and the troughs of a relationship in the early years.
And when it comes to keeping the romance alive, that may be as
simple as setting aside time for a "date" for a least a few nights
every month. Alice and Bob should get a babysitter and go out to dinner, if
that's possible, or make a nice, intimate dinner at home and share their
thoughts, hopes, and dreams with one another, just as they did when they first
"One of the most important things we've discovered is
turning toward your partner in very small moments, where your partner is making
a bid for attention," Gottman says. "If your partner is looking out the
window and says 'Wow, look at that beautiful boat that just went by,' you
respond with 'Oh, wow it is beautiful' -- that's all it is, it's a little tiny
response as opposed to continuing to read your newspaper and not look up. That
makes a huge difference."
Just as in the 20s, women want love and friendship in the 40s,
but they may prefer to sow their oats on the domestic rather than the wild
Many couples are well settled in career and family by the time
the 40s roll around (or leap out from the bushes and grab them by the throat).
But for Alice and Bob, the 40s are the time when the lovable, compliant,
cute-as-hell little darlings they've raised are suddenly snatched away and
replaced by evil alien clones, otherwise known as adolescents.
"That is another very vulnerable time for marriages, when
there are children involved," says Gottman." Adolescents and kids
pulling away from families, and trying to separate puts great stress on the
couple and particularly on parenting issues, and those parenting issues come up
again in a big way when couples are in their 40s."
For Alice, the challenge of parenting teenagers is compounded
by the first reminders that her biological clock just doesn't have the tock it
once had. "Many women are beginning to go through menopause in their 40s;
that can create some changes in terms of sexuality, and there have to be
adaptations to women's physical and emotional changes," Gottman says.