Last updated on Feb 27th, 2018 at 01:02 pm

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4. Growing apart – no joint interests

This is particularly important in long-term relationships. Couples who have been together for a long time often find themselves looking at each other down the line and thinking “What do we have in common anymore?!”

People change over time. It’s natural. Life circumstances, kids, work, finding different hobbies, can all expand our horizons, and add to our characters. The important thing in a long term relationship is to grow together, and to make a conscious effort to always maintain an intimate connection with each other. I try to encourage my patients to start a new hobby together, or work on a project together that will ensure that they get to spend interesting, quality time growing as a couple.

One of the major issues that I’ve seen in my practice is the increase in emotional and physical affairs amongst couples where one partner is extremely active while the other isn’t. Training for the Ironman, Argus, or running the comrades requires a lot of hard work and dedication. And while it is a very noble achievement, couples need to be aware of the impact that something like this could have on their relationship and guard against it.

One of the major issues that I’ve seen in my practice is the increase in emotional and physical affairs amongst couples where one partner is extremely active while the other isn’t.

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For example, a man might be training for the Ironman. This requires him to be out of the home for many hours every day and over weekends. His wife might feel resentful as he pursues his ‘dream’ while she is stuck at home with the kids, trying to keep the house together, and battling stress at work. When he comes home, she will be irritable and frustrated while he will be on a ‘high’ from the exercise. While out running with his training buddies, he might talk about his wife’s irritable behaviour. One of the female training partners might say she’s having the same issue with her husband. This could lead to an emotional connection between them. Add the physical ‘high’ from the exercise, and the increasing lack of intimacy between the married partners, and it could all lead to an emotional or physical affair.

This is why it’s important for couples to be on the same page. Each person needs to be able to find their happiness and contentment out of a combination of their friends, family, hobbies, religion, and career. A portion of your happiness can be found in your partner, but make sure that you don’t rely on your partner to fulfil all of your emotional needs.

We will all go through times in our relationships when our partners aren’t able to contribute 100%. This can be due to huge career pressure, a physical issue, or a goal that they are pursuing. Couples need to be able to negotiate this time (I’ll enter 1 Ironman competition, and that will be it), and each individual needs to be able to find their own happiness in the other things during this time, while still offering love and support to each other in whatever way they can.

If you rely completely on your partner for your fulfilment, you will find yourself looking for someone else when your needs aren’t being met. This is not a recipe for a successful, long-lasting relationship.

Click page 5 below to read about more reasons marriages can fail…