I have been asked several times about the question: Why do spouses grow apart? The reasons are derived from mostly cases I have seen around me, so you will find several references to Islam and marriages here. Generally though, all the reasons are covered (hence the length of this post). For they are mainly all common worldwide regardless of the religion or societal traditions.
(1) Some people rushed marriage and married simply because they felt it was the right time. Only it is never about right timing but only about a right person.
Those that rushed marriage got into it too young in age, assuming they love their partner only to find out a year to three years later it was merely lust. Lust for many men comes as love in disguise. They get good sex at the start and their wives seem so full of life, and being young and foolish they think it stays that way forever. But that isn’t how they are after they get married to them.
So essentially these kind of couples grow apart because they were never united at heart and soul to begin with! That becomes more evident to them as they go through life unraveling their true feelings and needs and have new experiences. Although for a woman, she easily gets tied to a man emotionally especially if he was her first man physically.
The one thing EVERY SINGLE man has told me is: “The first marriage is almost always a mistake,” they would elaborate, “we have no idea what we are doing or what is love. It is always the second one that is a true healthy relationship of love and friendship, and it lasts. But for some of us it’s too late to break free with the child(ren) we had be it at first when we thought we were in love or after unintentionally from there on thinking we’re inevitably stuck with this one woman for good.”
(2) Sex. More importantly, sexual intimacy not just the action of sex.
Men are to notice this first. That’s a major contributor to growing apart, when sex simply becomes an act to do at request or merely because your partner is your spouse- you can easily be confirmed how badly you are separated emotionally. Later in life, their men end up referring to porn and imagining other women than there wives that they have feelings for to be able to sleep with them (yes, the Muslim men do that!)
Many married men complain of how when they do get married sex occurs much less over time. Unfortunately, most women use sex only to control men.
Some women have issues that date from their childhood and/or root in their self-esteem that of course contribute to that lack of desire.
Some even see the purpose of it as a mean to conceive and that is all.
Women as much as men are purely sexual beings but not when they lack self-esteem and confidence! Also with hormonal changes after birth and women that do not take care of their health, as in do not eat well, they have no libido at certain phases.
In other cases, men that have made love and are emotionally in tune, do not just enjoy going through motions of sex if they aren’t emotionally present. More common of course if they are not in love with their wives. They don’t want to simply have sex, they want the emotional act of making love. Having sex with their wives that they do not feel love towards simply ends up leaving them more miserable. For sex can tell and affirm a lot about true emotions. That is a rare number of course, the majority of men only care to please themselves and that comes easily. Like I said, they’d find a mean to drift off in their minds and hearts meanwhile doing it!
(3) In some cases I believe people are just not compatible. People are continually changing. I believe some partners just outgrow one another!
And when a man/woman chooses a partner that does not support, understand or serve that growth as an individual they grow further and further emotionally apart. Let alone, some spouses not only hinder each others growth but they bring out the worst in each other!
Many women simply deny refuse to accept that fact that their husbands have outgrown them or realized a while later that what they felt towards them was not love after all, because they fear being alone. They’d instead try to forcefully harvest emotions that do not exist and that ends up eating away whatever was left of their self-esteem when they cannot make their men love them. Even if the men say they love them, a woman can tell when a man is simply uttering the words she demands to hear! Love cannot be forced. And so they live in denial to the extent they become compulsive liars. They are unconsciously blind from their own truth from there on. That says it all about there self-respect and self-esteem; they evidently have none!
It is also important to note that a man hardly ever wants to speak of his emotions, he deals with them alone in his cave! If he does ever approach you, he’s not merely talking to release like the majority of women do, but he is ASKING for advice, mainly he is asking for CHANGE directed TO and FROM YOU.
So when a man does tell you you’ve grown apart, that the relationship isn’t working and/or he no longer loves you early on in your relationship or even that he loves another- this is them choosing to part you with peace and honesty, sometimes even happily, so let them go. Have some self-respect! This is them doing you right and you doing YOURSELF right by following through. Your destiny surely isn’t tied to him/her.
When you insist on fighting for him/her, it’s no longer a fight for love, it’s a fight for your own belief that you “need” the person and for your individual obsession. Love after all is being happy together- you become the reason for each other’s happiness; and it is not the possession of each other’s happiness for your personal sake or gain.
And in these scenarios after a man has admitted once his truth and he’s forced to stay out of guilt- be it she harmed herself blaming him or used the children against him- he simply never speaks of his emotions and true self again. And he never will speak of his true emotions ever again. He is forever burdened by his wife’s reactions. And if he must speak, he will lie. Otherwise, he is a silent dead soul merely physically present in the house. No matter what the wife asks or how she tries to approach he never will utter his truth again! The spouses end up solely communicating about children and their household responsibilities to fulfill.
Sorry to say dear women, but you asked for it! Sometimes it is too late to expect your man to open up by then- particularly when you are the same person he tried to leave at start, only worse; now bitter and resentful!
(4) This links to the point mentioned before: communication fails. And there is no intimacy. Which means essentially no marriage or relationship for that matter!
When it comes to communication and intimacy, they are a must. That is why I think it is so important for your spouse to be your best of friend and companion above all. Lack of communication is a big obstacle that needs professional help in most cases. It becomes a subconscious habit and one partner simply cannot express. And you simply cannot force someone to be open towards you if he/she is not willing or feel comfortable.
And misunderstandings through clashing personalities and/or not being aware of and accepting the differences of men and women of course shall lead to a failure in communication. Misunderstandings occur between all men and women, the one threshold that breaks through them is love.
(5) Expecting to change your partner out of love.
Growing apart is extremely common in situations were a Muslim man thinks his foreign woman is changing “out of love” only to discover later it was merely on paper. I am saying foreign women and not men because that is what is more common as allowed in Islam.
Some women are just in the marriage for the affection Arabs are known to provide, the infatuation they have with white foreign women (it guarantees they’ll find a man), and/or the financial support they do not get back home. If you notice, the majority of foreign women that come to Egypt for example are from the countrysides restricted to several countries. I can think of namely three countries, that EVERY woman I met was from; they they came having decided to live here forever, thus equally as well, to look for “marriage”. And/or in most cases, a job they cannot have back home because they are not qualified for it. Because being a foreigner in the Middle East (and especially a woman makes life easier here) immediately assumes you a reputation of being better &/or more qualified! Which is anything but the truth.
It’s sad, but the only thing these “converts” pick up on repeat are merely words like “Insh’allah” and “Hamd’lillah” to rehearse for the praise of the public of course. Other than that they master giving others evil eyes and pick up whatever else BAD habits traditions have formed!
One of my dear best friend has gave me some feedback on that note: “Salma, I have been telling you this all along, us “foreigners” are in no way better, in fact, in many ways we have worse qualities and we’re far more destructive! As people in general, we’re insecure and vindictive; why do you think we are always going to war? And why anyone who has a shred of decency and substance is considered by our societies as un-enlightened and traditional or conservative?”
Back to the main point: changing your partner.
Other women do genuinely try to change, but seeing as they are not surely convinced and were extremely submissive to their husbands leading them to lose their identities, they eventually simply put all blame on Islam when the husband let’s them down. It’s stupid to think that because you changed your religion or lifestyle that it evidently means he will be faithful and committing because it’s something many women feel have “sacrificed” (even if they had nothing before) and want to be compensated for. Submission, selfishly loving your man, lacking self-esteem as a woman and losing your true self in love will guarantee you your marriage will never last. Even if they still live under one roof for whatever reasons, they both know it’s a ruin. Of course here it is much harder to divorce when children are involved because they are taken thousands of miles away from their fathers!
It is more likely you love a person that is equal to you in beliefs, values and priorities. When you willingly chose someone who is not- you must be aware that your union will be that much more challenging and require much more hard work. Which many people do not really grasp. You cannot force another to change. You can only change yourself and hope that inspires them to the better. Change has to come from within.
The most beautiful couples I know of- although I can only name two- are ones were the women actually converted alone long before they met their Muslim husband. They end up being the ones to make their husbands better Muslim’s even! And it’s not something you ask for or do by force by proclaiming what is right and wrong or fears of heaven and hell- instead, it is seeing that goodness and beauty of peace and love inside out in words and actions of the person and knowing that his/her religion is the contributor to those genuine qualities in character.
(6) Many spouses do not continue doing what it took to get their partner in the first place!
This applies to both men and women. Men become less affectionate and romantic. And women lose themselves and loosen up thinking they now have the man surely tied to them so they can stop taking care of themselves and pampering him like the grown baby he sometimes is. You always hear people say, “he/she wasn’t like this when before marriage! They transformed after to their real truths!”
People think marriage is a guarantee to commitment and attachment, so they think that once they get the person to marry them they can “relax”. Well disappointingly, it is not at all, for many today, it is merely a paper for display approved by society to raise kids. Being married doesn’t mean your partner is attached to you or committed. Or sadly, that they even love you.
Of course with less energy and attention spent on each other as one, communication eventually fails as well. They fail to comprehend each others needs and desires, which are changeable by time as well. And as the months and before they know it, years fly by, it is that much harder to regain that ability to communicate and certainly the intimacy that was once (that is if it was ever really there to begin with).
It really is a very saddening scenario for me, when I see people grow apart than together over the years. They actually go about claiming they’re together for the “eshra” as you say in Arabic, that is the years spent. However, to them they speak of it as years wasted and now “it’s too late and they’re stuck because of children” so they must be “repaid” for these wasted years. It is primarily women that think like that in terms of payment! You know how a woman can never get her youth back and isn’t as attractive as a man once aged and/or divorced. Men can always find a woman, a young one as well, regardless of their looks, age, or marital status. So the men simply feel a burden so they suck it up and roam through life as dead souls seeking fulfillment in their work field instead becoming workaholics or escaping by sleeping as much as they can once home! Oversleeping, just as insomnia is a sign of depression and a mean to escape reality. What it’s depressing for me is what they need to escape to be well is their own family.
(7) The marriage routines, they wear out the spouses. They make life boring.
People assume once they’re married they must be serious and uptight all the time. They make less time for themselves alone as the years pass, without even realizing it, especially with having the burden of financing a home and the responsibility of children. Passion is something that needs to be revived. It is not vital however, but with love, you constantly need to show it in not only words but actions. It is easily revived by simple moments alone together where you share your feelings and laughters. Silence becomes your greatest comfort on some days.
Time alone I believe is a must to a healthy marriage between husband and wife. However, for some men I know that do not love their wives, if I were to tell them to spend time alone with their wives and go on dates, they’d be repulsed, mock me, sometimes even curse for thinking they could be that intimate with their own wives! It was shocking for me to witness their reactions but even more how resistant and repulsed they are by the idea of getting near their wives with a full and open heart.
So yes, you cannot expect to have time alone with a man that is already long emotionally distant from you, particularly when you are the reason they drove away within. Same would apply to women I’d assume. I’d presume if you’ve reached that point, you need professional help!
(8) Having a child.
Many may think that a child should bring the spouses together, but for men, it tends to make the marriage much more difficult, especially if it is not an easy child. That is mainly for two reasons the fact their wives now change; hormonally, physically, and yes, since many have babies thinking it’s all fun and exciting- many end up not ready for the reality.. the women end up consumed in fatigue and mood swings, constantly complaining and nagging. No man surely likes that! Let alone, the attention and affection that was spent on the men is now shared if not simply a small fraction of what it used to be. That would be the second reason, women forget they have duties as wives as well as they are preoccupied being mothers, even if not good ones. I also find that many women choose to focus more on the child and neglect their husband’s needs knowing their children will surely love them or at least, be loyal to them, more likely than their husbands! Men need to be assured their manhood and also treated like babies at points as well.
In some rare cases, if the baby is an angel (in the sense not always having colics and the house is peaceful enough), it can be the reason the spouses feel closer. But that doesn’t necessarily denote in an emotional sense of them both as an individual, simply, they’d have more smiles with the innocent presence of the baby in their already miserably static lonely home. The baby gives life to it. But inside as two, they are still apart. Then again, this only lasts till the baby is a few years old- about the time the child grows enough to go to school that is no longer the case! It’s time to quarrel over duties again!
To conclude, the biggest reason for spouses growing apart is by far not having their personal emotional needs met, they stray emotionally starting from there. Second comes the physical, which men tend to prioritize more than women. Although, later in life, that role is reversed! Women need the sex for self-assurance, meanwhile, the men need the affection more than anything. All in all, it would be summed up to intimacy, both emotional and physical.