Avoiding the Gray Divorce

In an “Everyone Loves Raymond” episode, Deborah comments on the scene of Maria and Frank sitting at the lunch table and not saying a word. Is this Hollywood or real life? A British study on communication between spouses supports this scene by finding that the longer the marriage, the less couples say to each other during an hour-long meal.

Here are the statistics for the length of time spent talking by couples, as the length of the relationship grows.

  • While dating, couples converse for 50 minutes out of a 60 minute hour. The couple only spends 10 minutes actually eating. No wonder a meal during a date takes so long.
  • Immediately after marriage, the time spent talking begins to shrink dropping to 40 minutes per hour.
  • After twenty years into marriage, the average time spent talking drops to 21 minutes out of the hour
  • After thirty years of marriage, the couple spends only 16 minutes talking.
  • The fifty year of marriage mark sees the average couple talking for only 3 minutes during meal hour.

If you figure three minutes is about 75 to 100 words … imagine the conversation.

I’m going to have the fish no sauce please, with salad, no dressing and sweet tea.

I’m going to have the pasta with chicken, salad with Italian dressing, and water.

Do you want some bread, I’ll cut it for you.

Yes, just one piece and can you please pass the butter.

Ups, you have just used up 50% of you allotted words.

Now this may sound funny but the fastest growing age segment for divorce is the over 45 age group. Licensed counselors involved in couple counseling have a term for it … the gray divorce.

If you are concerned about the direction of your communication patterns in your marriage, try this exercise that is suggested in marriage counseling sessions at Discovery Counseling. Start working at building a conversation pattern that takes up more than half of your meal time. Put down the newspaper. Turn off the TV. Set at the table looking at each other and talk.

Have a great conversation today !

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