What Causes Couples to Grow Apart?

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?

Elsewhere on the Web