Paul and Alicia
Both age 45, married 17 years
Clinical social workers
Trouble in Paradise
Paul: "We went through a crisis early in our marriage when we felt like roommates. It seemed like I was just living my life and I had this person who I loved, but my life wasn't really going to change drastically, so I was just—there's a term we throw around—a married single. It meant we were each doing what we wanted instead of making decisions jointly."
Alicia: "There was a sense of, 'This is not what I thought marriage was going to be.' Still, you don't want to let people know you're a failure at this marriage thing, so who do you talk to?"
A More Perfect Union
Paul: "For a dozen years, we've met monthly with two other couples strictly to talk about marriage. They know our history and we know theirs. We've all had crises and lots of ups and downs, and this is a safe place where everything can be shared."
Alicia: "We're in our 40s, 17 years into our marriage with three kids. Our sexual desires have changed; our energy levels have changed. ... In the support group, we can unabashedly talk about the grief that comes with those changes and not be embarrassed. We discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly, and we hear 'Yeah, we've been there' versus 'What?! You did?! You don't?!' Because this is life and this is marriage, and it's a struggle sometimes, but it's worth it."