As the old year comes to a close, change looms on the horizon for many. Whether it’s a job shift, family shift, or mercury kicking into retrograde, faring change is difficult solo, because we tend to be creatures of habit. So while it’s hard to change alone, weathering change with your partner can sometimes feel impossible, especially when only one of you is changing. Many relationships fail because participants have “grown apart,” which is another way of saying they’ve failed to grow together.
Below are a few things to keep in mind if your partner is making moves and you feel like you’re running alongside them.
Understand when it’s not about you. This is much easier to preach than practice. Often when a partner is going through a change, we project our own feelings all over them a la emotional vomit, and this causes conflict. If your partner gets offered a new job and you yourself are feeling stagnant in your career, you may project this all over them in the form of negativity or doubt. When downer feelings bubble up around a change, get a little introspective: are you really concerned your partner can’t handle added work responsibility? Or are you bummed you yourself aren’t moving forward. Locating the truth behind your pesky feelings before you address them can save an argument or five, and allow you to be the best, most supportive version of yourself.
Keep your eye on the long game. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day conflicts that surface in your coupleship. Your partner’s new hobby, while cool, is cutting into your together time. They’ve recently found religion and you’re not sure if it resonates with you. Or maybe their new gym routine is giving them a killer bod while the only marathons you’re training for are of the Netflix variety. A friend of mine recently lost 35 pounds, and instead of being supportive, her husband has become insecure that she’s going to leave him. It’s causing major conflict, and the sad truth is that it’s his lack of support—not her new muscle mass—that’s threatening to break them. When faced with s-s-s-scary change, try to back up and look at the shift in terms of longevity. Will this impact the whole of your relationship 5, 10, 15 years from now? What’s your ultimate goal as a couple, and does this change threaten that? Is your partner a completely different person, or are they simply a happier/fitter/busier/more successful version of themselves? Thinking about the big picture often helps check smaller struggles.
Remain flexible. New hobbies, interests, religions—these can be startling when they come out of nowhere and threaten to alter what is comfy. But nothing kills a romance faster than a lack of compromise, so if your partner is changing, remember to be flexible. This means staying open, supportive and positive. Ah, doesn’t that feel good?