Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Causes Couples to Grow Apart?

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Last week when I first heard the initial reports of the impending separation of Heidi Klum and Seal, I was so surprised that I had to tweet about it. It wasn't as if they had been married that long, six years plus, but they had always been open about their relationship, renewing their vows regularly, doing stuff together, and popping out children every other year. So it seemed they had been a fixture for a longer time. Their official statement read in part;

"We have had the deepest respect for one another throughout our relationship and continue to love each other very much, but we have grown apart."

And this got me thinking. What does growing apart mean? We usually hear the term "grown apart" among people who married young, in their late teens and early twenties, when they're still learning who they really are. In my experience, most people build their permanent personalities in their late twenties and early thirties and if you get married earlier than this, you have a harder road ahead in the early years. But in the context of two older people like Heidu Klum 39 and Seal 48, what really happened?

Love is supposed to be forever as is marriage but if we take the statement by Heidi and Seal at face value, love simply wasn't enough. Talk about deja vu, do you remember my post about personalities in relationships? I discussed the whole growing apart issue with Atala and we agreed on some reasons that may contribute;

1. Changed priorities - this may be in terms of goals and needs. So one thinks working 9 - 5 is enough for their job satisfaction, but find out along the way they need the creativity of their own business. This will definitely put a strain on the relationship in terms of time spent together, getting the other party on board if their own goal is tied to the 9 - 5, etc

2. Not knowing each other well before marriage - Say, a man falls in love with a bubbly soul of the party, and after marriage, she turns out to be a homebody who wears hairnet and sweatpants all hours that God made. The dashing bobo becomes a couch potato, satisfied by the news and sports channels. You get the idea. Sometimes this is as a result of a short courtship, pretense by the people involved, or simply the effects of marriage and possibly parenthood.

3. A marriage of convenience - Both people got married for whatever reason that did not include mutual love and respect. Could be that family pressure, societal expectation or the almighty biological clock made them do it. And then, they get the title, gain the responsibility, have the 2.5 children and the shine of the wedding ring wears off.

4. Physical attractiveness changes - this is clear enough. If the woman for example prefers a man with a six-pack, a potbelly that doesn't go away could be the basis for growing apart.

5. One of them does something the other cannot live with - This is where the big guns fall in - Domestic violence, infidelity, abuse of the children, crime, etc. and some smaller ones like loss of income, identity crisis, failing health, and so on.

Okeoghene asked, Is Divorce trending? And I had to answer that maybe it is. If you ask me though, most of the marital issues listed above can be healed through discussion, spending time together/apart and possibly therapy. Still, I accept that if a marriage  is not working for the couple, and they have tried all other options to revive the love to no avail, it is better they amicably divorce themselves.

To forestall getting to that stage, I have this theory of "The Love Bank" where a couple both keep depositing affection, understanding, time,  attention, good communication, support, compromise, respect, and cheerleading. The bank will serve as a buffer and comforter when misunderstandings, differences and down times come, as they sure will. So love is like the plant that keeps growing, it needs to be continuously nurtured or it will wither.

Please share other ways and tips to keep a relationship fresh and strong. What is your view on divorce?


  1. This is sad news, very sad. :( I wish people would honor what they say in their vows "for better or for worse".

    Cheers to everyone who upholds marriage as somehting worth fighting for!

  2. I think you've enumerated most of the common causes but I must add that COMMUNICATION(IMHO) is the most important key here.
    If you're married for the right reasons and your partner doesnt change, you both can still grow apart if you stop communicating with each other.
    This includes sharing your thoughts, dreams, issues etc, and then extends to non verbal too. Like every goal, a successful marriage is one in which you work at wholeheartedly - it takes 2 though!

  3. When one of the couple in the partnership is selfish and only thinks of themselves then it is very difficult to maintain that relationship. In myfirst marriage it consisted of what I called a 'taker' and a 'giver' relationship with my ex being the taker and myself the giver and even then he wanted 'more' so much so that he decided to leave.

    My second marriage consists of two 'givers' which was quite a challenge in itself as we were both unused to being treated with such respect and consideration. We can now accept the thoughtfulness each of us bestows on the other and are very comfortable in our relationship.

    That is not to say that we are blase about it and we both know that we have to work at the relationship.

    As the previous comment states, it does take two and it takes two to work at a marriage or any relationship for that matter.

    Communication, respect, loyalty, selflessness, admiration, and pride in each others achievements (large or small) are qualities we should all aspire to along with the love that made you want to be together in the first place.

  4. Personally, there is no one unique recipe for a long-lasting marriage. It is up to the individuals and themselves to work out on the marriage if indeed you love him or her. I am yet to be married and it scares me to see marriages crumbling after the 3rd or 5th year. Its not only in the US, but here where I reside. Perhaps, people (men and women) marry for the wrong reasons altogether!

  5. There will always be reasons for marriages to fail, really, but why cant people find reasons to make it work,marriage takes work no doubt, but its worth fighting for , with the exception of the big problems like abuse, infidelity, abuse of children etc, then i guess it will depend on each individual case..

  6. People change, want more for themselves, are less tolerant of factors that hold them down and believe they are better off on their own than in that particular relationship. It is what it is. 'Modern society' supports individual (than it does collective) actualization.

  7. I think couples need to respect each other and the relationship. You need to truly have your partners back all the time.

  8. I'll just copy my comment on Okeoghene's post and paste it here

    Na wa for your dream oo. Lets just aI don't believe divorce is trending. For every marriage that doesn't work, there are 2 others that work, so lets not turn our minds only to the negative.
    I also believe that God is the author of marriage so if we live Him out of it, theres bound to be problems. Abi how can we know something than its maker?
    I also believe that what most people call marriage nowadays aint marriage.

  9. God said in the book of Malachi that He hates divorce. For Christians, this is really a serious issue but for free minds and non-Christians, I guess anything goes for them.

    Only Jesus at the center of a marriage can keep it going and sweet for long cos only in Him are found the true and real attributes of love(I Cor.13) which guarantees a Godly marriage..

  10. Growing apart is such a generic statement. Sort of like the break up explanation of, "It's not you, it's me."

    I'm not sure why, but at some point there should be a recognition of change and if the marriage is desired by both parties, then the willingness to work through the change should be there as well.

    Unfortunately, that isn't always the case.

    1. I agree... there should be recognition for changes ohh.. After all, changes in society, events, unforeseen circumstances will affect the duration of each individual including their relationships. Its like a business, everything is changing around you and you have to be aware of them and their impact. But, I guess for whatever reasons beyond my comprehension couples chose to sometimes walk a way.

      I have invited God into our marriage not to just say I have only because it is what everybody does. But for accountability/responsibility and corrections reasons. I want to know that if any of us are wrong/slipping the holyspirit will minister to us about me and we will fix sharp sharp. To be honest I am for marriage and everything the bible says about it. Yet, it seems its meaning, purpose and visions are lost, all lost.

      Btw way, only God knows about their foundation...

      One more thing, sometimes separation in some marriages needs to occur cos sometimes people need to realise their mistakes and losses... Life is full of ups and downs, sometimes you have to hit the bottom to get back up.

  11. I want to leave a comment, but I find that I don't know what to say. I was divorced when I was in my 20s, then I married in my 40s and that has lasted. For me it has to do with loyalty, commitment, patience, trust, knowing that you cannot change another person, giving that person space to be themselves. We have had a lot of stress, but our marriage is strong, I feel at home here in my marriage. Something I never felt with anyone else.

  12. I'll keep this short LOL

    My views on divorce..........I do believe marriage is not for everyone and life is way too short to live with someone you cant stand anymore.

    My tips for a good marriage: 'TALK and LISTEN to each other' + 'Put each other first'

    There is nothing like a perfect marriage because we humans are all flawed. However, there is something as a perfect match - where couples complement each other. If a spouse is not bringing out the best in you, its time to call it a day.


  13. I have discovered that we humans are so superficial, when things stop being fast paced, titilating and feeding to our most superficial needs, when things become hard and force us to stretch and grow, when things demand us to go beyond ourselves and leave our comfort zones, we'll rather run. For me personally, divorce will NEVER be an option;It's a choice I have made.

    1. AMEN.. NO DIVORCE.. I am with you on that one by his grace not mine..

  14. For me, I think most people just dont get the entire concept of marriage. When they say their vows, I wonder what they had in mind. Maybe the excitement of the ceremony is what makes them rush over those lines without thinking it through and true. Marriage is forever! Not for "as long as we 'feel' each other". Its not a business contract. You know what I love the most about this your post, " almost all of the marital issues listed above can be healed through discussion, spending time together/apart and possibly therapy" | You are right ma... almost all can be solved but people are no longer patient these days. I dont mind separating for a while for hurts to heal, but divorce is sure not an option.

    - LDP

  15. I'm not married yet, but from what I've observed from successful marriages, I've seen it is not about two perfect people. It is about two imperfect people committing themselves to work through their differences. I sincerely pray that when I get married my marriage will last for a lifetime. So help me God.

  16. The issues that lead to couples growing apart are plenty and varied, as the number of comments here would suggest. My fear is that things may even get worse especially where children are involved. What we forget is that the more marriages fail the more likely children from those marriages may experience unstable relationships/marriages themselves.

    Whilst it's more convenient for couples to split than stay together, let us spare a thought for the children that needs to learn early in life what it means to love. I'm more worried about the legacy of divorce and broken relationships that may be left behind if we fail to make marriages work wherever possible.

  17. Maybe in a way its trending. Cause for each time a celebrity divorces after 72 days/6yrs/20yrs of marriage, some non-celebrity couple somewhere becomes emboldened to emancipate themselves from a supposedly non-working marriage.

    While I am not a believer of stay in marriage at all costs especially when one partner is abusive, I belive that when two people marry and know its forever then they work harder at it. But so long as that divorce option is there, couples may tend to give up too easily.

  18. Sometimes the couple that displays the most PDA may not exactly be the happiest couple.
    It may be something they are doing to convince themselves and the world that their relationship is just fine when in fact it probably isn't.

    Now that said, the truth of the matter is most people no longer want to work it out these days.
    Single life looks that much enticing ....... until they get back into it and begin to feel all lonely again.

    Before they realize they've made a mistake, stuff's gone too far.
    One of them has probably re-married or even both....
    And then the cycle continues.

    This is my theory.

    p.s- I rarely take Hollywood marriages seriously anyway, but the breakup/divorce after a few months/years bug has also hit REAL life.

  19. FOr a couple that renewed their vows yearly I am beginning to think that after year 1 or 2 they stopped taking it seriously and used it as another reason to get away. If I were renewing vows like that, it would be a love catalyst for me ... I want to fall in love with my partner everyday.
    Who knows what seal and heidi were facing behind closed doors.
    all I can do is pray to have a love like the one God has planned for me. :-)

  20. Yes, they were one of those couples who you always thought would stay together forever. Another dream shattered!

  21. Thanks for the mention. All the points you raised here can make a couple grow apart. Your theory of a love bank makes so much sense; but when only one person is depositing in the account and the other withdrawing, the depositor will always feel the strain. Communication is the water to make the rose garden of marriage blossom.

  22. "Grow Apart" what a word!
    I remember my dad telling me a long time ago to "marry your friend, not your lover. Friendship lasts longer"
    Then it seemed such a cynical statement, but now i understand the truth and wisdom of that statement.
    And i totally agree with you, Myne. Early marriage at a time you are still discovering yourself is so much harder to make a success of.
    For Heidi & Seal - very sad.

  23. I heard the news really late...it honestly felt as bad as when I heard Brad pitt and Jennifer Aniston had divorced. The part I don't get with all of it is the 'Growing apart' excuse....how does that happen when they renew their vows every year?

  24. I also though this was a forever case. :(
    Rayo and P.E.T you are so right. People change what you married 10 years ago is no longer the same today, or so I think because I'm no longer what I was either.
    But communication is key. If its not there everything seems to go down so much quicker and you just can't talk to someone who's not your friend.

  25. I just baught 10 new Nokia 1800 mobile phone, for 7 euros each.(1400 Naira), but the price changed to 12,99euros(2800 Naira) after fee hours!.., i was sad! this makes me sad instead of the topic here!

    1. lool... how random... sorry for the few chillings loss.. its the economy.. hard times..

  26. Today is a good day. I've spent some time on your mails, including the Seun chicken real-drama.

    This divorce thing is about temporal and eternal reasons for why people marry. The temporal fade, the eternal stay. And where there exist no eternal reasons for the marriage, the passion fades as the temporal age and fade with time.

    And where the eternal changes because like you state, priorities changed, the problem then becomes that of the Love passion making us thing the other human is extraordinary: full of miracles and perfection; never expecting they will change or that they can hurt. We fail to listen, and where we listen we fail to understand because while listening we have concluded our stance on what we want them to be or become, or on premonitions we hold. Here, love would mean a face, a person rather than a feeling.

    I love Seal just like I love lighthouse family and this news is sad as the parting of the Lighthouse team. I had always thought his marriage was as solid as that Mr. & Mrs. W. Smith.

    I'm almost crying.

  27. Not married, but i've written about a similar experience in the context of friendships. For me growing apart means that you are like strangers to each other even though you might share a living space, children or other things. I think that as in any other relationship, growing apart happens when the people involved are no longer an important part of each other's lives. So you can pretty much get along without the other person and their presence is not relevant to your life since they don't add to or subtract anything from it.

    One reason for this outcome could be people taking their relationships for granted and not putting in the effort needed to stay connected. Or you could have a situation where one person feels a distance but the other person thinks that everything is just fine and is oblivious to the need to make any changes to the way they relate to each other. The way i see it, chemistry can be spontaneous but love and intimacy need sustenance.

  28. There are so many reasons that couples grow apart. We dont know the reasons why they are parting ways but I wish both of them good luck.

  29. Serious talk..I think people dont respect the marriage institution..its sad..

    1. Yup.. sad is an understatement.. alot things are not respected anymore.... standards are falling so to speak "my people perish from lack of knowledge". very applicable in every stance of life...

  30. Very well said Ms Myne. I agree with LDP, I think people should ask themselves why they want to marry in the first place. There are so many people marrying for all the wrong reasons.

  31. Myne,inasmuch as all the listed help cause the break,sometimes it just happens without explanation.The grace of God is what we all need.I was really sad when i head of Seal and Heidi's resolve,it was really sad.

    1. Yes the grace of God and commons sense i.e. wisdom very much needed.

  32. Sad sad sad but,it's entirely up to u&u!!
    U can't get it all,if u can't do that lil sacrifice to each other. Jesus did it to get what HE wants,so who r we.


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