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TRACEY COX reveals 10 reasons why marriage is harder now than it was 10 years ago

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Tracey said working together from home can have a negative impact on communication and can mean we spend too much time together (File image)

Is your relationship feeling strain?

You’re not imagining it: marriage IS harder than it was ten years ago.

The average couple faces a multitude of challenges that were different – ​​or less pronounced – a decade ago.

Economic instability, changing social norms, digital distractions, and increasing mental health issues are just a few of the issues plaguing modern marriages.

Here are ten reasons, backed by research and statistics, why relationships are more difficult today.

Tracey said working together from home can have a negative impact on communication and can mean we spend too much time together (File image)

We are eager for the world

Who wouldn’t be?

The debate between Israel and Palestine burns with angry protests and heartbreaking images flooding our screens. A third world war seems increasingly likely, AI threatens to take over our lives, and crime and homelessness are at visible all-time highs.

Horrible things have always happened. But we didn’t know about all of them, much less right away. Having access to the news 24/7 leaves us informed, but a little too informed. If we avoid directly checking what grim things have happened in the world today, a phone alert sounds to remind us.

The consequence is that mental health problems, especially anxiety and depression, are more common. The incidence of mental illness has increased 13 percent in the last decade and is having a significant impact on our personal happiness and the state of our relationships.

Money worries are on the rise

Arguments over money spending styles have always been one of the main reasons people get divorced: financial stress is a major predictor of marital dissatisfaction.

Add a cost of living crisis to the mix and the financial strain on the average marriage is even greater.

A 2023 report from the Federal Reserve found that many households are struggling with stagnant wages and rising costs of living. There is less job security, stress levels are higher and free time is less – hardly a recipe for a happy relationship.

British sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox, pictured, revealed that one of the reasons we're struggling is because we're anxious all the time.

British sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox, pictured, revealed that one of the reasons we’re struggling is because we’re anxious all the time.

We work differently and from home

Technology makes everyone available 24/7. The lines between work and play have been blurred and many employers expect us to be able to contact each other outside of “working hours.”

Most of us don’t work nine to five anyway. If you work from your living room, you can afford to be more flexible with the schedule you choose. But it also means that there is no official cut-off time to play.

Many couples loved working together at the kitchen table during Covid. (Think about it! We can have sex whenever we want!) Until they realized that there is such a thing as too much time together (who wants sex when it’s available 24/7?).

You need separation and time apart to keep your relationship fresh: if you do everything together, what do you have to talk about?

There is more to distract us

Technology has been keeping us away from spending time and having sex with our partners for a while now.

Streaming became the norm in UK and US households around 2018. But fierce competition between a growing range of providers, the creation of engaging original content and high-speed internet have made streaming irresistible. on-demand binge viewing.

Smartphones were a staple in most people’s lives around 2014, but their use was limited. Today, we use them to exercise, bank, buy, sell… and, above all, to have fun. Is it any wonder they are always in our hands, preventing us from interacting with our partners?

Sixty-eight per cent of us said social media has negatively impacted our relationships, Tracey said (File Image)

Sixty-eight per cent of us said social media has negatively impacted our relationships, Tracey said (File Image)

Social networks are poisoning our lives

Social media had truly taken over our lives in 2011 and has altered the way couples interact.

Today, sixty-eight percent of people say social media has impacted their relationship, and not in a good way. An American study found that excessive social media use was a major factor in marital dissatisfaction for 45 percent of people.

Why is it so toxic for relationships? The comparison factor is one of the reasons. Everyone seems better, richer and happier than you. Their partners are more muscular, more agile, smarter and more connected than yours.

Our smart brain knows this is all a fantasy (no one posts when they’re angry or depressed), but it still leaves us feeling dissatisfied and more critical of our partners.

Infidelity and trust issues are at an all-time high

Social media not only feeds us a constant stream of idealized representations of other people’s partners and relationships, but it also provides great opportunities to reconnect with previous lovers or to find a new one (the person whose photo you just liked ).

Twenty-four percent of Facebook users say the platform has caused relationship problems (fueling jealousy and suspicion) and made them feel dissatisfied with their lot.

Eighty-one percent of divorce attorneys say they have seen an increase in cases involving social media evidence over the past five years.

Our communication skills are getting worse.

Because we spend less time talking and listening to each other, our communication skills suffer.

We interact with our devices, not with each other, and face-to-face interactions have plummeted.

Often when we speak, we speak but we keep scrolling. If you look down and not at your partner’s face, you lose the ability to read their body language. You miss a narrowing of the yes, a brief frown, a pained expression in his eyes that alerts you to a potential problem.

Misunderstandings are more likely to occur if your attention is only half-focused on what your partner is trying to communicate to you.

We have higher expectations from relationships.

We marry later in life: the average age for first marriage is now 30 for men and 28 for women. This means we are more set in our individual lifestyles, which can make it harder to merge.

The myth of the “happily ever after” (that we marry young and stay together until death) has been replaced by the equally useless myth of the “perfect marriage.”

We want what we (think) we see on our social media: a relationship that is always fun and loving and never unsatisfying and hard working.

Few (if any) marriages are like this, but they exist, right? There is evidence on Instagram! Disillusioned, many leave before the end of the first year: the good things about the wedding disappear and they did not expect the bad things that inevitably follow.

There is also a growing emphasis on individual fulfillment and personal growth. We are more “I” than “we” in this era of individualism, which prioritizes personal goals over marital harmony.

We have fewer support systems.

It is an established fact that your relationship has a much better chance of succeeding if your friends and family approve of you.

But what happens if they are not around to offer us support and advice when we need it? More and more families live geometrically dispersed, leaving couples feeling isolated in their struggles.

In the old days, your mother lived two streets away – a vent with a cup of tea solves more problems than you think. Ask any couple with children: having grandparents or relatives willing to babysit helps tremendously in raising children. Which has also become more difficult…

Parental pressures are greater than ever

Raising children in today’s competitive and demanding environment adds intense pressure to marriages. There are plenty of books, podcasts, and social media accounts telling parents how to raise their children.

The number of classrooms is small, teachers are under pressure and jobs are scarce. Even eight-year-olds know that “it’s hard to be out there”; Test anxiety is more intense than ever. All of this puts pressure on the parents, which in turn strains the relationship between them.

Social media, the gift that keeps on giving, doesn’t help here either. No one shows pictures of his son throwing a tantrum and his father pulling out her hair out of frustration. It’s all birthday cakes and happy families, expensive picture-perfect parties and glamorous ‘goodie bags’ (reinventing the competitive term).

Years five through seven of a marriage are known as the “burnout years” because that’s when most couples raise children. It’s a rare couple where both parents don’t work and at the end of the day there’s little fuel left in the other’s tank.

There you have it: life is harder than it used to be. Realizing that it’s not “just you” is comforting. Recognizing that new challenges exist is the first step in creating a resilient relationship that can survive them.

Listen to Tracey’s podcast every Wednesday – details at traceycox.com. Her latest book, ‘Great Sex Starts at 50’ is available in all bookstores.

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