Here's How A Marriage Falls Apart After 20 Years Together

Here's How A Marriage Falls Apart After 20 Years Together

An expert explains why people walk away after so much history together.

By Marianne Garvey

Aisha Tyler broke down crying on The Talk this week after revealing her 23-year marriage to Jeff Tietjens was headed for divorce.

Her soon-to-be ex was the one who filed for the split in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences, but Aisha still declared her love for her him despite the relationship ending. 

“Even though we're separating, all I want for him is joy and fulfillment in whatever he chooses to do in his life next. And whatever I can do to help him do that, I want to do it,” Aisha said on the show she co-hosts. “I don't, not in any way, see this relationship as a failure. I was with this extraordinary person,' she explained. 'I had this extraordinary love affair for 25 years of my life. And that is how I see it. He's a wonderful person. He's been my best friend for almost my entire life. I'll always, always love him.”

The two married in 1992 after attending Dartmouth College together, and appeard to be going strong.

So what is it that makes a couple decide to call it quits after all those years? 

New York based relationship expert Rachel Sussman breaks it down, saying “when I hear people have been together that long, I feel people fall apart.”

“If you’re the same idiot you are at 40 when you were at 20 there’s something wrong, she says. “You look at two runners who start in the same place, but 20 years later what’s the chance they end up side by side?”

These are her top reasons people decide to move on, no matter how difficult it is.

1. You grow apart.

You start doing different things, and take up new interests that are separate. “

Let’s say one travels, and one won’t leave the country, so you go away without the person and have experiences you can’t share and that creates a rift,” Rachel says.

2. The passage of time.

Time wears on relationships, and simply put, people start to irritate you.

“I don’t know that we’re supposed to be with a mate for our entire lives, beacuse back when marriage was created, people died young,” Rachel says. 

3. Trying to get pregnant.

“Trying to have a baby is the most stressful thing that can ever happen to a couple,” Rachel says. “It can bring you together, but what you often see is if someone cares about it more or shares their feelings more, it can wear you down. If one cries and the other shuts down, it’s stressful.”

Aisha revealed her own fertility struggles in 2013 may have contributed to the breakdown of her marriage. She gave up trying after two years because it was too painful, she says.

We just decided it wasn't worth it to go through that and so we decided to stop. It was better to not go through that torture,” she said on her show.

4. Couples get bored.

Married couples get into ruts and have to try really hard to keep the marriage interesting, exciting and erotic. “Otherwise you’re roommates who annoy each other,” says Rachel.

“You want to have date nights, some similar and different interests.”

5. It’s been bad for way too long.

Many couples call it quits because it’s been not so great for a very long time. People become frustrated, unhappy, depressed, and angry over time and if that’s not fixed it takes a toll on your mental health.

But there is a way to heal things, or at least try, Rachel says. Be aware of your partner's feelings, along with your own. Take time for the person, find things in common, go on dates, keep it hot. Most of all, communicate through the ups and downs.

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