We've all been in relationships that we were positive would stand the test of time and then crumbled beneath us. Sometimes we know the exact reason why — I'm looking at you, Mrs. Name Redacted! You should've kept your nose out of my relationship with your son, Name Redacted! Using this Reddit thread about why people who've been together for 20 years or more decide to call it quits, and a few other well-researched sources, I've compiled a list of reasons why some long term relationships fizzle instead of sizzle (tm, me).
1. No sex. Or not enough sex. Sex is important. Finito. End of conversation. You want to make it past the 20 year mark, you better have that bedroom stuff on lock.
2. Money issues. It could be anything having to do with that dollar dollar bill: One person is too controlling with the finances, and/or one person spends EVERYTHING, and/or you just have different view points about how money should be dealt with. Heartless_Gloater writes, "Friend of mine not me. Married for over 20 years. He was the main earner. She brought up the kids. When the kids left home she went out to work for the first time in their marriage. At the end of the first month he expects them to put both their respective wages together to pay the bills. She abjectly refused. Said it was her money. She brought up the kids and now having this extra money is her due/reward."
3. Empty nesting. So many stories on the Reddit thread of people staying together for the kids. They must know that this is often terrible for the kids?
4. Bad communication. Long term relationships require a ton of talking it out and changing and growing behavior because of these talks. If either or both parties are shut down to each other, this isn't going to happen and the relationship will crumble.
5. Not compromising. As aarmor puts it, "You can communicate all you want, but communication makes no difference if there is no compromise."
6. Cheating. A lot of cheating on the Reddit thread — and liberal usage of the term "boinking" to describe the cheating, which I fully support. Transvestophilia writes, "Wasn't me but happened in my family. They were married for 22 years. The wife was cheating on him for a few years.. with her best friend... who was also a woman. The husband and wife agreed to split amicably and the rest of the family were all really supportive, including the kids. As hard as it is to find out your partner has been cheating on you, I guess it's also hard to come to terms with who you are and your sexuality. Very difficult situation to be in. Years later, they're both in happy, healthy relationships and are still on good terms. The woman is still with her friend as well."
7. Not enough in common. If you don't like any of the same things or have some similar interests, chances are you won't have things to talk about before long.
8. Some really hard stuff happens and it just doesn't work anymore. Makerbot2000 heartbreakingly shares, "Late to this thread, but what the hell. Married 16 years, together 18, so close enough. Had a solid relationship that was incredible. Job changes, family dramas (sister tried to kill herself), and it was like we were a team that could take on what life handed out. But then we had the year to end all years - lost 3 out of 4 parents (her Dad had died a long time ago) in a single year, moved to a new house that was still being renovated, and she went back to school to start a new career. All of those combined were like a perfect storm and everything just collapsed. I still don't understand what happened...."
9. One person is a total mess. Lagwagonlead writes, "Not me, but my roommate. His wife left him after about 20 years. When he moved in he said he couldn't figure out why. After living with him for six months I've asked him to move out, and I can give him a reason for people not wanting to be around him. He's a closet alcoholic, he hides the bottles in the bottom of the recycling bin. He's insanely fucking lazy. He doesn't clean anything. He was unemployed for 3 years while married yet never learned basic skills like cooking or cleaning. He was working 30 hours a week when he moved in then asked for reduced hours because he couldn't handle it, now he's at 15 hours and says he's looking for another job because he can't make ends meet. He stalks his daughters who don't want to see him, the scary thing is he doesn't think it's stalking because they're his daughters. Nope, even people call you and request you to stop parking outside their homes and watching them because you're not welcome, that's fucking stalking. Oh and he sleeps more than my cat, but I see that as his best feature. Yep, his wife had good reasons."
10. Not being kind and generous with the other person. There's a great article in The Atlantic about why some relationships work and some don't and it comes down to kindness and generosity. If you give your partner the benefit of the doubt and are generous with their bids for attention, you can survive anything!
To leave this kinda depressing article on a happy note, let's read this short story from Reddit user knudipper about making love work. "[No] evidence other than my own experience. Married about 32 years ago because our son was born a few months before that. Both moms decided it was time for us to marry so we did. Very tough times for 2 decades but almost everything that happened pushed us closer, we chose to be unified even if we disagreed. Now empty nest for 10 years and we get closer every year. We both still feel giddy about Friday night together, music and a drink(s) with the weekend coming up. It is deep love, deeper than the beginning. There remain moments of intense desire to be with her, see her special smile and know that I'm part of her happiness."
Follow Laura on Twitter.