Human relationships are often fraught with complexity and unpredictability. Even couples who seem firmly anchored in love, admired and celebrated by those around them, can sometimes go through unexpected storms, leading to a breakup that no one could have anticipated. These turbulences are a reminder of the importance of communication, mutual understanding and constant adaptation in the journey of love.
Although there is no universal answer to the reasons for breakups, certain patterns emerge when looking at couples’ breakups, based on the number of years they have been together. Whether the newness of the relationship wears off or the stress of having kids or leaving home keeps people apart, read on to learn the years when couples break up most often, according to relationship experts.
1 – Post-honeymoon phase
When you start a new relationship, it’s easy to ignore the little problems because you’re so caught up in the positive feelings of love. But when the pheromones start to fade and the honeymoon phase ends, around the second or third year, it’s a crucial time when many couples end their relationship.
“The honeymoon phase can last anywhere from a few months to a few years and involves a lot of exciting newness and anticipation,” says Kalley Hartman. “The three-year mark is generally considered the period in which many relationships break down due to this transition from infatuation to long-term commitment.”
The happy period at the beginning can often fool couples into believing they are destined to be together, but once the butterflies and rainbows fade, reality can set in.
“Most of the problems that cause a relationship to break up come from the foundations of their relationship in the first place,” explains Matthew King. “When you first start dating someone, it’s normal to be so in love that you overlook minor problems that may arise later. However, as the relationship progresses, these minor issues can escalate and lead to major problems.”
2 – After the children
Once a relationship has progressed a few more years, some couples choose to have children to expand their family. Unfortunately, this exciting time can also lead to more breakups due to added stress and exhaustion.
“The period immediately after giving birth to a child places increased demands on a relationship,” explains Lola Noero. “Couples wonder how they can balance the role of caring for an entirely separate human being, while maintaining healthy separation and space. Lack of sleep, overwhelming new roles, difficulty balancing work and family, increased noise levels and chronic stress all play a role.”
3 – Seventh year
When a relationship has progressed and stabilized over the years, it’s completely normal for you to fall into a routine with each other. But, on the other hand, this stage of your relationship can feel stagnant and boring, leading some people to throw in the towel.
“As relationships evolve, it’s common for couples to fall into a routine or become monotonous over time,” says Kalley Hartman. “Couples may feel like they are drifting apart or losing interest, which can lead to arguments that cause tension.” The seven-year period is often cited as the time when couples are most likely to break up due to a lack of newness in the relationship.
4 – Fifteenth year
It’s natural for the magnetic spark you once felt for your partner to fade after more than a decade together. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re destined for divorce, but some couples find themselves living separate lives around age 15 and decide it’s time to call it quits.
In a TikTok video by Kim Polinder cites the fifteenth year as one of the most common years for couples to break up. “If couples have difficulties at the 15th year, it’s because they have forgotten how to be friends,” she explains. “They grew apart and started living their lives as roommates. They never really learned to resolve conflict and instead learned to disengage. ”
Maybe this is the time you should try to bring the romance back into your relationship (sometimes the lack of spark could be because you haven’t tried) or maybe you’ll realize that he’s been gone for a long time.
5 – Retirement years
Divorces are on the rise among older people and, currently, those over 50 account for a quarter of divorces.
After children leave home, in their 50s or 60s, some people feel restless and unhappy in their marriages. With no children left at home to care for, many couples break up after realizing that raising children was the only thing keeping them together.
“The loss or redefinition of professional priorities and the change in the parental landscape when a child leaves home causes an identity crisis in many couples,” explains Lola Noero. “Sometimes couples look at each other over morning coffee and say: What now? What are we going to talk about now?”
Besides the empty nest, another reason why divorce is common at this age is that people are living longer. “As a result of increased life expectancy, these couples find themselves in their 50s and 60s, unhappy and with 20 to even 40 years more to live – and they want to do it their way.”
Kalley Hartman adds: “After years of living together, couples may find that their expectations have changed. As they change and evolve, it can become difficult for them to reconcile their differences or stay on the same page.“
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