Remember when you were younger, and you wanted everything to stay the same forever? Then your parents, or some dream-killing adult, told you that everything’s changes as you get older? You hated hearing it, right? I know I did. In my young mind, I wanted to have hope that nothing would change. I’m not sure if it was totally hope, or if stubbornness to accept reality, or just good old wishful thinking. But it’s true, change is inevitable.
As we age, it’s not so much that the “constants” in our life change, but our priorities certainly do. For example, I never wanted my high school friendships to end, but I rarely talk to anyone I went to school with. It’s not that I don’t still like those people, I’m sure they are great, but I met new friends after school was over. I met new people that have more in common with the person I am now, than the person I was then. I could generalize it and say I changed, but I’m sure I’m not the only one. I am a far cry from the person I used to be, and I hope that someday in the future I’m different than I am now. I no longer care about who’s dating who and whether I might get picked in gym class. I no longer care if someone was going to go to prom with me. High school is over, and whether I want to admit it or not, I am an adult.
There are a lot of ways I’ve changed over the years. I got older, I have switched jobs numerous times, I’ve dated not only different people but different types of people…the list goes on. The point is, things change. Your surroundings change, your life’s goals change, and you change to adapt to them. There are some major changes going on in my life at the moment. I’ve been resistant, but I might as well accept them.
Nearly ten years ago, I met a guy. We had talked online for about two years off and on and finally decided to meet. We had numerous mutual friends, even used to go to the same dance club, how we had never met before astounds me. We finally agreed to meet in early 2006. Having talked for a long time prior to meeting, there wasn’t a lot of small talk, and we could spend time getting to know one another. Having lived an hour and a half away from each other, our first date lasted more than one day. It was love at first meeting though. We were together, or talking, as much as possible after that. That was the beginning of our relationship, which has endured medical problems, a loss of drivers licenses, a robbery, a major move, and major career changes.
But our relationship has changed over the years. We are no longer the two guys in their twenties (he was 23, I was 28 when we got together), we are thirty-somethings. Due to the various issues we’ve dealt with, we are no longer the people we once were. Our individual priorities, goals, and dreams have changed, all the while our combined relationship goals have remained nearly the same. This has caused a rift in our lives that we need to fix. We’ve become complacent where we should be evolving, we’ve settled into a rut where we should be exploring new roads, we’ve become cold where we should be sparking things anew.
I cannot speak for the changes he’s endured, I can only speak of mine. I’ve gotten older. My weigh gain has lowered my self-esteem. I’ve become more interested in sexual things I hadn’t heard of a decade ago. I’ve moved forward in my career. I’ve realized new hobbies. I read more. I write more. I have more empathy for others. I’m smarter. I’m wiser. I have new medical issues I didn’t have ten years ago. I quit drinking as much. I’ve lost friends. I’ve distanced myself from the bar scene and from drama. I’m more interested in my health. I’ve quit (and started again) smoking. I’ve went from someone who didn’t care what others thought, to a needy person seeking validation. I’ve become a deep thinker. The point is, people change with time. We need to learn to change together, my husband and I. We’ve resisted doing that, and now we’ve had a disconnect.
We have decided to fix this problem, which is harder than just giving up. There are a lot of things we’ve kept from each other, a lot of truths that have never been spoken, and a list of things we take for granted and don’t appreciate about one another. Ten years is a long time to love someone and just give up. Another ten years from now, I don’t want us to be two people who once loved each other, I want us to to be two people that still love each other but in new ways rather than the old same, stale love we’ve relied on in the past. As people grow and change, your emotions (like love) has to change too.
Communication is our number one issue. We resist telling each other things that may bother the other. I can’t speak for him, but he’s the only person I care enough for to value his opinion. But I don’t tell him things that bother me, or how I feel, or that something new may interest me, or that I no longer have an interest that I once loved, because I don’t want his opinion of me to change. I want him to still love me and sometimes telling a personal secret endangers that. True love shouldn’t have those fears. We both need to realize that telling each other something new about ourselves should only strengthen our love, not fear that it will rip us apart.
We are also both guilty of not accepting the change in the other. I’m hesitant to accept that he no longer finds the same things interesting, I’m hesitant to accept that things are different at all. He seems to be in the same mindset. We need to acknowledge, and accept, those changes we have as individuals so we can grow as a couple.
We need to talk more. Not just about our day, or what we want for dinner, but really talk. About our feelings, about things we find interesting, about things we don’t like, about things we do like, about sex, about goals, about aspirations, and about how we have changed. We need to stop fearing what the other will think, and just open up. If your love is strong, it will endure the openness. Talking openly with the one person you love most is hard, but can only strengthen your bond if it is honest.
Change is inevitable, even in relationships. But change is a good thing. Staying in a rut hinders any hope you have of moving forward in your life together. Be open and honest with your feelings, even if they are different than they were a year ago. Don’t fear honesty about your wants and needs, if your partner truly loves you, they will accept you as you are at all stages of your personal development. Talking and effectively communicating will bring you closer together, even though it is scary. Don’t be judgemental of one another’s feelings, wants, and needs, learn to accept them and love your partner as they are. Compromise is the key, you may not feel the same as your partner, but you can accept and respect their thoughts and feelings. You may even find new things about yourself you didn’t know before.
Embrace the change in your life. Embrace the change in your relationship. It may very well be the change you are looking for.