What causes couples to grow apart over time? In my practice, couples grow apart for a number of reasons. Couples grow apart from a lack of emotional or physical intimacy, limited communication, violation of trust, unresolved conflicts, and/or self-destructive behaviors. Relationships require regular maintenance and nurturance in order to survive and thrive. Researcher Robin Barry, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland has found that couples who grow apart over time are at a higher risk for divorce. She found that spouses who solve their problems individually to avoid conflict instead of problem-solving together tend to have less trust and intimacy.
In many cases, couples have placed their marriage on auto-pilot and have neglected the needs of their partner. They may spend less time together, share less in conversation, and have less activities that they enjoy together. Couples may operate independently of each other and make decisions without including their partner in the process. Their conversations are primarily logistically based and lack any emotional depth or intimacy. The physical relationship may have waned over time with less affection, less physical intimacy, and reduced desire. Some couples are harboring anger, hurt, sadness, fear, and/or resentment that they’ve been unable or unwilling to let go. The passion, excitement, fun, and joy made have slowly faded. In other relationships, a clear violation of trust due to infidelity, alcohol/drug abuse and/or any other addiction may have consumed this person’s life.
This can happen to anyone. Maybe it’s as simple as being consumed by work, money, children and/or family or not meeting each other’s needs, or more complicated such as being stuck in unforgiveness. Whatever the issues are that caused you to grow apart, don’t allow the distance to take root. There is hope for all couples who are willing to take a look at themselves and take responsibility for change. Learn next week ways to grow in your connection and love for each other.