When Partners Change During Relationships
By Frank Kermit
When partners change and grow as individuals, it is important for them as individuals to keep in mind that each of their respective growth also needs to be balanced with growing their relationship as well. People change for their own reasons. Very rarely do people change exclusively for their partners. This is a very important key point in choosing a life partner. You do not choose a life partner, based on your belief about how you can change your partner in the future. You choose a life partner for who your partner is today. Think of it as an as-is purchase. If you are sold on the idea of what you plan on turning your partner into, instead of accepting your partner as is, right now in the present moment, flaws and all, then the likelihood of your relationship ending badly have significantly increased.
A relationship is not a fixer-upper. Unlike a material item that you have full control to restore to its original greatness, or make adjustments to bring it up to date, a relationship is with another human being who you do not control like a material possession. A person can only change within the capacity of they have to change, and no amount of nagging, badgering, insults nor threats of abandonment will ever motivate a person to change more than they can.
This is not to say that people do not change. They do. Over the course of a lifespan, people will change. They will go through stages, have new experiences, learn more about themselves, learn more about life, and as their emotional needs change and evolve, so too will their boundaries and where they are willing to compromise. What is currently very important at the beginning of a relationship may no longer be a concern 20 or 30 years into it. By the same token, what was not important at all 20-30 years ago may be exceptionally important today. Even if a couple's core values stay the same over the years, it is still possible that the way each individual in the couple needs to express those values start to conflict. For example, each individual in a couple may hold family values in high regard. However, one partner of the couple accepts a child's lifestyle they do not agree with in the name of upholding and respecting a family value, whereas the other partner would disown the child, claiming it is for the same reason; to uphold and respect a family value, by not being open to a lifestyle they originally disagreed with. Sad, isn't it?
One of the reasons that younger people are encouraged not to get too emotionally committed in relationships is preciously because they are usually in a major flux of personal development and chasing career goals, such that they are changing rapidly over a short period of time, and thus they could be very different people from the day the relationship begins to the day when those changes may cause the relationship to end.
Personal growth can be a wonderful thing, and very necessary for those in the pursuit of happiness and for higher levels of awareness to better understand the world around them. When on such a journey, be mindful that your relationship is not always the curse that is holding you back as some fickle gurus and mentors may claim. Your relationship could always continue to be a source of stability and strength if you let it. Explore ways for you both to change and grow as a couple, because that is part of what the mandate of being in a relationship is. That is what people (sometimes unknowingly) sign up for when they enter a relationship.
People do change over the course of a relationship, however it is rarely in the way the original partners intended, and if they work at it, they can grow together and make their relationship stronger over time.
FRANK KERMIT MA
EXPERT RELATIONSHIP COACH
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