Change is certainly something that affects how a couple relates to each other. Here are five tips to help your relationship weather any shifts that pop up along the way:
Understand that change WILL happen. You start your journey as a couple at one place in your lives and will hopefully continue together for the long haul. To do so, expect many twists and turns along the way: everyday stresses, major challenges, milestone events—in other words: life! Change is always happening, so expect that it will continue to show up in your relationship, as well. Embracing an open mindset that allows for change and being willing to adjust and adapt creates space for your relationship to evolve with it.
Accept that people change—and that’s okay. For any number of reasons, individuals shift and change. It’s important to support who your partner is rather than expecting them to forever remain as you’d like them to be. Appreciate and foster their unique, evolving needs and desires. Sometimes, their changes are temporary (as in a demanding work situation) at other times, the shift might be permanent because of a desire to make a life transition. Regardless of the cause, having your support will add strength to the relationship.
Figure out when change might mean trouble. Sometimes when your partner acts differently, it might mean something is bothering them. Not all people are able to easily express themselves verbally. If you notice over time that your partner is behaving in a way that’s out of the ordinary, show your concern in a caring way. It’s important that care and compassion be expressed so that the other person feels safe enough to be honest if there’s a problem.
Make change happen for you. Though one of the nice things about being in a relationship is consistency, research has also shown that boredom can kill it. The remedy is to create novelty—change! But not to worry: If the two of you aren’t major risk takers, you don’t have to go skydiving to achieve the goal. Merely switch up the restaurant you go to or try a new activity together. Add a little spice to your daily life.
Change the way you handle conflict. One of the reasons couples get into conflicts is because they do the same “dance steps” all the time—they keep repeating the same arguments over and over again. One of the best ways to make a change is to step back from moments of conflict and observe what patterns the two of you are repeating. Then reframe the situation to see where shift in a different direction might be possible. Being open to changing the patterns allows you to create a different (and more loving) result.
Change is hard for many people. However, when embraced, it can be quite empowering for your relationship!