If there is one fact in life, it is that there will always be change -- it is unavoidable. One of the most vital traits of a relationship which endure changes is the ability to adapt and mature. For example, couples who are more rigid in their way of thinking are more than likely going to not be as successful at overcoming change. There are important things which one should pay attention to as a relationship matures and grows. Being flexible and open to healthy change is essential for a relationship to endure and stand the test of time. I tend to tell the couples I counsel that relationships change and so do we as individuals. With that being said it is important to change and grow in a healthy and fair manner.
To help achieve healthy growth, it is important to consider how changes outside the partnership will ultimately influence the needs and wants from the partnership itself. For example, a newlywed couple will more than likely be faced with different challenges and stress than a couple who has been together for 20 years. What is important to keep in mind is our attitude about life’s inevitable changes; people move on, grow and experience a life which they will ultimately leave.
As a couple, being mindful and progressive about life’s up and downs will only make you both more resilient and also help to move the relationship forward. According to Dr. Suzanne Fremont, facing change as an opportunity to grow as opposed to something which we need to avoid is a healthy tip (Building a Healthy Relationship From the Start, The University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center). Our frame of thinking will ultimately influence how we tackle (an hopefully accomplish) the hardships of everyday life.
Another aspect of healthy growth as a partnership is checking in with the other from time to time; taking time to discuss both the daily changes as well as the larger life changes is a good time for a couple to reconnect and affirm their partnership as a unit. Dr. Suzanne Fremont states that life changes may also mean an adjustment to life goals and expectations. For example, a couple might need to sit down and discuss life goals for big events such as getting a new job, moving, the death of a loved one, children as well as other major life occurrences. Furthermore, open communication about major life events and changes is an essential component for a couple to be able to make it through life’s ups and downs. Additionally, the longer the couple goes with not talking about the elephant in the room the more likely their relationship is to be negatively impacted by change. As hard as it may be at times, it is important for couples to be open and honest about how they are willing to face challenges and change. Growing as a partnership involves being adaptable, fair and willing to compromise and grow as both an individual and a unit.
Until next time--take care of yourself, take care of your mind.
Amanda Burk, MA, LPC-Intern, LMFT-A
Supervised By: Tammy Fischer, MA, LPC-S, LMFT-S
“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” – Buddha