What to Do When a Relationship Changes
I have been married for a few years and I am starting to get a little concerned. For the most part, everything is going okay, but I am starting to see my husband change his interests and the way he spends his time. What if he keeps changing ‘til I don’t recognize him any more?
I’ve come to the conclusion that we have (at least) three types of love—past love, present love, and future love. Past love is when we are attached to and in love with what was. The problem with past love is that it is all based in memory and not in current reality. Future love is based on our hopes and dreams of what may be—and again, this may not necessarily be reality at all. Present love is the real deal and the only one that can actually bring you satisfaction, so I invite you to see if you can pay attention to who your partner is on a daily basis and allow yourself to continuously fall in love anew.
Ironically, while we can’t go into a relationship expecting to change the other person, we should go into a relationship expecting that he or she will change. The difference is the emphasis on who is implementing the change. We cannot make our partner change, but the forces of nature, as well as their own impetus, will cause them to change. Their bodies will change. Their hormones will change. Their libido will change. Their weight may change. Their health may change. Their physical appearance may change. Their friendships may change. Their careers may change. Their hobbies may change. Their athletic activities may change. Their alcohol consumption may change. Their levels of confidence and self-esteem may change. Their minds may even change. So what is it exactly that we expect to stay the same?
Then there is the marriage or relationship itself, which will change as a separate entity from either partner. Frequency of “date nights” may change. Level of financial comfort may change. Houses and communities may change. Time available for recreation may change. Family support may change. Number of family members will change. Children (who are always changing) will change the marriage. More children will change it more. Children growing up and moving out of the home will change the marriage again. The loss of family members will change the dynamics. Sexual frequency and ability may change. Skills for problem solving and communication may change. The way you spend your time together—and how much time you spend together—may change. Retirement will change the marriage again. So what is it exactly that we expect to stay the same?
The love is probably what we want to stay the same, but even the expression and experience of love changes. While the core essence of true love is unchanging, as it filters through our egos it appears to change over time. In my experience, love doesn’t go away, but it does get blocked with ego; so our experience of it ebbs and flows. Love can deepen over time, moving from infatuation and becoming more secure. Love can be more passionate or less passionate. Love can be conditional or unconditional. Love can be expressed or withheld. Love can be given and not received. The intensity of the love in a relationship can wax and wane, as can the level of intimacy. If we want to be successful in our relationships (and in our lives), we have to become comfortable with change—both managing it when it happens and creating it when it is needed.
Ultimately, you will probably find yourself more at peace in the relationship if you expect change, and just as you learn more and more about yourself over time, enjoy the process of discovering more about your husband each day. Rather than trying to recognize some semblance of who he used to be, see if you can fine-tune your ability to see—and love—who he is now.
Intellectual Foreplay Question of the Week: What do you imagine will stay the same?
Love Tip of the Week: Growth is not possible without change. Nor is true love possible without the acceptance of change. Otherwise, your love is like a snapshot—only captured for that moment.