The changing face of a relationship
Relationships change and it can be hard to deal with the changes that happen in those relationships. We may feel that, when we found our partner, we were going to grow old together, making our way through life...yet the reality is something different. Change comes along and breaks over our relationship and can changes how we relate to each other.
"I miss you. No, let me correct that, I miss the old you. I miss the old you that cared about me."
The reality is that relationships are not a steady state; they are living relationship that evolves with every day that passes. As you grow as a person so you take that experience and value into your relationship and it helps it grow. Part of the challenge of good relationships is having space for your own individuality while creating space for you as a couple and allowing your partner to be an individual. A tricky balancing act!
Change in relationships
Change can bring difficult times to a relationship as you incorporate the new into the old. Yet for the relationship to grow and develop, it needs that change. Having a good process to deal with change is important for a good relationship.
There can be little changes: perhaps one of you starts helping out at a youth group, or you take up a hobby or sport. There is less time to spend together, and suddenly there is a part of your partner’s life hidden from you. There can be big changes, such as a partner who once dreamed of retiring to a cottage with roses round the door sharing that really they want to stay in the bright lights of the city. Perhaps it is something more critical like one partner changing their mind on whether to have children.
Some change will happen naturally and will need little discussion - often the small changes. But beware there can be a salami-slicing effect where each slice is very thin but after many slices (changes) you find yourself in a very different place. Perhaps he takes up golf and it’s a game a week, but then there is a medal to play this month, and a thing on at the club house in the week and the guys were going away on a golfing holiday…So be ready to discuss how the small change of taking up a sport might affect your relationship.
More often it’s the big changes that are the problem because they cut across what you thought you had as a shared value. They often take time and discussion; listening to your partner and a willingness to compromise and see other perspectives makes this a success. It may be worth considering therapy if it is proving challenging. Remember in conflict it’s easier to focus on the negative; try to remember it’s you and your partner vs. the problem not you vs. your partner.
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About Graeme Orr
Graeme is a counsellor and author living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.