18 July 2012
How to grow together through change
by Fran Creffield
We all change as we go through life but sometimes the changes can have an impact on our relationships.
There are many ways in which people change throughout their lives and most of the time we don’t even notice it is happening. Occasionally the changes are rapid and life changing and can have a big impact on your relationship especially if it only affects one partner – you might be left feeling that they are not the same person you fell in love with. Or maybe you see that your partner is struggling to accept the changes you have made in your life. Either way it can take time for a relationship to recover its balance. Here we look at three of the most common areas where change occurs:
Although people you meet on eHarmony will have been matched with you on areas of compatibility, a large part of what makes a relationship work is compatible lifestyles. If someone loves the outdoors they will naturally want to be with someone who shares their tastes so it becomes something that they can do together. This applies to bad habits as well as good. Smokers will feel more comfortable with other smothers; a heavy drinker is likely to want to be with someone who doesn’t object and will join them in a beer or two and if someone loves to indulge in gourmet food they will naturally want someone to share that with.
If a relationship was built primarily on these shared interests and then one person decides that that lifestyle is no longer what they want it can have a dramatic effect on the relationship. The partner who is still enjoying the pleasures may miss their companion and feel resentful that they have left them. If the lifestyle choice formed the basis for much of what the couple did together – going to barbeques or bars – and one person no longer wants to do this it can be doubly difficult to accept the change.
If your partner has changed in this way:
- You must accept their decision and encourage them especially if it is beneficial for their health. It is not fair to try and persuade them to abandon their efforts because it makes you uncomfortable.
- Don’t feel that you have to make the same change too – do it when you are ready, not to please your partner because you may resent them for it later.
If you are the one who has made the change:
- Make sure you don’t start criticising or judging your partner because they are still indulging in the same habits – everyone changes when they are ready and putting pressure on someone is likely to push them in the opposite direction.
- Try to ensure that you still spend time with your partner doing some of the things you both enjoy without compromising your efforts for a healthier lifestyle.
Hobbies and interests come and go depending on our stage of life, the people we spend time with and how much time we have available. Most relationships go along smoothly when a partner develops a new interest unless that interest becomes a threat to the relationship. This happens when the other partner feels pushed out and jealous of how much time and attention their partner devotes to it.
If you have developed a new interest and your partner is unhappy about it:
- Try to find a way to include them in some aspect of it – share it with them, even if it is only talking to them about it
- Prioritise your relationship above the hobby reassuring your partner that they are still your number one priority.
- Take regular time out from the hobby and give it to your partner, doing something that interests them, they will then be more tolerant when you want time on your own.
Some changes in life happen without us having any control or choice in the matter. People get ill, lose jobs or loved ones and the impact of these things can change someone in a deep and profound way. If you were with someone who was successful, good looking and financially secure and they have an accident which disfigures them and leaves them unable to work it will rock the foundations of the relationship for both of you. Other less extreme changes happen all the time to people.
Life changes are inevitable but they don’t have to spell disaster for a relationship. How well you can adapt to changing fortunes will play a large part in how well your relationship develops. Often a couple becomes stronger and more unified when they go through big life changes together as they realise the depth of their love for each other. Resistance to change is what often causes the pain.