There has been a considerable amount of research recently, mostly in the US about the reasons why people get divorced. The dramatic effect divorce has on both personal and national life makes it an important topic of interest and debate.
Timing and causes
Apparently there are two key windows of divorce opportunity defined by the age of the marriage. These are from 5 to 7 years and between 10 and 12 years. In the earlier window the causes are around conflicts within the relationship that are not (or cannot) be resolved. By the time the next window arrives it's more about the relationship drifting apart and a loss of sexual (or indeed any other) intimacy.
I guess those conclusions are pretty much obvious as most married and divorced people would recognise them either themselves or amongst their friends. Let's look at how these situations might be eased and thus reduce the likelihood of a divorce come knocking on your door.
Conflict and how it might be managed
Serious conflict can arise at any time in a marriage and can have a devastating effect on a relationship. There are a number of elements within a conflict situation which once identified can be useful in managing that conflict.
This is a very negative way of expressing dissatisfaction within the relationship. It tends to make things worse by putting the responsibity/guilt for this dissatisfaction upon your partner. If you can change this into a complaint that needs to addressed by both of you and worked out together then it will take the some of the heat out of the process.
Most people in any conflict situation will tend towards the defensive when they feel threatened or under attack. Again this is a negative response to conflict which closes down any negotiation or discussion. Taking or sharing some responsibility for the conflict will be a great help in resolving it.
This is a rather vicious emotion which manifests itself as righteous indignation and claims of superiority both moral and emotional. Few people and certainly not your partner, deserve your contempt. There is always something (and often a great deal) in your partner that merits your positive appreciation. Recognise it, find it and build upon it.
This is similar to being defensive but is less passive. Best described as when your partner actively shuts down any communication between you. This can be everything from "I just don't have time to talk about this right now" to storming out of the room. Stonewalling is often a tactic to put off a conversation or a decision. When used repeatedly it means that the conversation never happens. Make time for this, stonewalling just adds to stress levels.
How to reconnect with your partner and rev up the libido
Lack of connection and the loss of sexual intimacy are probably linked. Wanting to make love with your partner is a natural consequence of feeling connected and at ease within the relationship. Libido is controlled by the mind and is often a bellwether of the quality and functionality of a relationship.
Losing interest in sex may not be as common an occurrence for men as it is for women. It is thought to affect about 15% of men and at least double that for women. When men lose interest in sex it scares them more than women as it is more central to their sexuality. Women seem to be able to accommodate this better into their lives.
This can be a conflict issue in a relationship as more women experience a loss of libido than do their partners. They are also better able to cope with the situation and are often quite happy to lead lives which are untroubled by lust.
What's to be done
It's probably the conflicts within the marriage (and every marriage has them) that are most important to resolve. These can continue unresolved for many years gradually pushing the couple apart. Conflict cannot be resolved by negativity. If this is not addressed then dwindling libido may well trigger a divorce to come knocking on your door with all the consequences.