To have a good, long marriage, you must fall in love many times, always with the same person. There are plenty of people who have long marriages, but they aren’t necessarily good or happy, just long. And there are plenty of people who have good marriages, but then fall out of love, like a shooting star that loses its energy.
These are the people who discover “they’ve grown apart,” or discover “he’s not the man I married.” Not because he lied about who he was, but because he changed. He’s no longer the same person, literally. And did you really want a static stick-in-the-mud anyway? If you really want a lasting union, learn to ebb and flow with change, just as your spouse should do the same. People evolve.
Is Change a Betrayal?
If you feel betrayed by your partner’s change, ask yourself if you had an unrealistic expectation of how this person would be constant in your life. Did you think she’d always remain the extrovert, surrounding you with ready-made friends and social outings? Well, maybe she has entered a period in her life where she’d like a rest. Maybe she’s evolved from party person to home nester. Maybe she now finds gardening more satisfying than a cocktail party. She has changed. Should you feel let down?
Actually, if you’re lucky, your partner will change over time. People who are the most interesting are the ones who entertain change. Who accept that they are a work in progress, and that you are, too.
Is Change Inevitable?
I have a friend who was married multiple times. Her first marriage was to a man who she thought was ambitious and successful in business. She married him for a number of wrong reasons, but one of them was that she thought they’d have a glamorous life together. It turned out that the more he got involved in the corporate rat race, the more he hated it. Eventually he settled for a low-key job in a small town, but not before she divorced him.
My friend’s final marriage was to a man she loves and adores, and married late enough in life that they don’t have to suffer through too many changes. But she admits she never would have been happy with him earlier in life—he was too predictable. His life was always going to be relatively static, and she wanted excitement and adventure. Until she grew out of that phase and changed completely. Now she finds his stability comforting.
They are still undergoing some changes, of course, because that’s how life is. Especially since they both transitioned to retirement and he is always at home and so is she. But they have learned to navigate these changes because they have each spent a lifetime adapting to change. They accept that change is inevitable. And that is the secret to a happy marriage. All the better if you can learn to adapt together.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.