Change is a constant in life and in marriage. Over time, who we are and how we see each other changes. When Susan and I got married, she was attracted to my strong and decisive personality and I to her spontaneous creativity and fun-loving attitude.
But through the years, what we actually needed from each other changed. From me, Susan has at times needed more gentleness and empathy. And I’ve needed to learn to flex to that. Sometimes I’ve needed more one-on-one time, more order and structure from her, and she’s adapted, too.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
That’s a common business cliché. But the reality in marriage is that if you always do what you’ve always done, you won’t even get what you used to get. What worked in the past is no guarantee to be successful, to be what your spouse wants or needs in the future.
We must embrace change in our marriage.
Some changes are good: having children, adopting children, moving into a better job or better part of the country. Some changes are painful: dealing with addiction, mental illness, job loss, a move that goes badly, or a death of someone we love. But refusing to acknowledge or deal with change, whether good or bad, is a recipe for disaster.
If you’re not sure you buy this, consider some of these reasons why we need to lean into change. Embracing change in marriage means:
1. You attain hope for your marriage. Stagnancy in marriage can be damaging, even lethal. Without change or hope of change, some spouses become fixated on the hopelessness of things as they are.
2. You attain hope for a spouse’s well-being. It’s hard to watch a spouse struggle and suffer. The potential for change in their heart and circumstances can encourage endurance and grace.
3. You can show grace and patience. If we “expect the unexpected” within our marriage, we are less prone to being rocked so hard when something troubling happens. If we understand and accept that sometimes a bad or painful change can happen, we can better show grace and patience while our spouse works through it.
4. Handling change together builds trust. When you work together to deal with the changes that come in life, you build trust. And trust is the bedrock of intimacy.
5. Handling change together builds your story. A strong story has conflict and obstacles to overcome. Embracing change and dealing with it together creates your story as a couple that strengthens your marriage.
6. You demonstrate respect for the dynamic person your spouse is. Respecting your spouse is, in part, acknowledging their ability to learn and grow by treating them as a dynamic person instead of static, unchanging person. Treating them like you never expect them to be any different does not confer dignity on them.
7. You lovingly encourage your spouse as they own any changes they want or need to make. I’ve blogged before about the difference between enabling and helping your spouse. If you embrace change in your marriage, you are better equipped in your attitude to be a true help when a needed change is embraced by them.
My final thought is this: embracing change is embracing the realities of life. If you resist changes in your marriage, you are setting up false and unattainable expectations that can crush your marriage.
Consider what a change in your own attitude…about change…might do for your marriage, and please comment below.