Women in Love
How to keep your relationship strong through the decades.
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.
But aside from the stresses of adolescence and menopause, the
40s tend to be a more peaceful time in a relationship. "If things have gone
well in the first let's say 10-15 years of the marriage, which is where most
people are entering into their 40s, if there's a foundation where there has
been friendship, if there's a way in which couples have been able to talk about
conflict, then they do pretty well in their 40s," Gottman says.
To stay out of a rut, she advises couples to "make sure to
express fondness, appreciation, and admiration for your partner. What the
research shows is that in happily married couples there's a ratio of about 5-1
positive to negative interactions, and those positive interactions include
things like expressing appreciation. In unhappy relationships the ratio is
about 1.9- to 1, so there's still some appreciation being expressed, but not
enough, and that can make the difference."