An up-close photo of a sunflower.

Evolving Relationships

This morning, I was taking a walk and thinking about change. The topic of this article had hit me harder than expected when I sat down to write it. It threw off my day. But, as I walked and looked around, I was reminded that literally everything grows and changes — the grass, trees, flowers and animals. Within one year, Earth itself changes four times. Each season brings new life and new growth, albeit a different kind than before.

It feels like our lives revolve around change. Our environments are constantly changing, and we just shape-shift right along. But what happens when change occurs in our relationship with our spouse? It feels like that relationship should be the one constant keeping us grounded, right? But change is inevitable. And as I was reminded earlier this morning, change isn’t bad. It’s a growth of sorts.

As we grow, people change. That’s just the truth of the matter. We learn new things, mature, get hurt and maybe even pick up new habits along the way. We evolve. And so does our relationship.

It’s weird to be at the point in a marriage that you’ve heard every story about your spouse’s past so many times you can probably recite it better than they can. And to be at a point when you’re surprised by new things. In every marriage there comes a time when you or your spouse faces a change you didn’t see coming. Maybe your spouse wants to get out of the military, something you never would have thought would happen. Maybe you don’t want to do military life, so you want them to get out and get rooted somewhere. Maybe your spouse wants to stay in, change branches or go on a deployment. Maybe a trust has been broken. Maybe they are depressed. Maybe you want to change careers, get a job or have a child. Maybe you need a change in your marriage for it to continue. I don’t know what it is for you, but things change. People change. Marriages evolve.

Change in marriage is hard, especially the ones you are not expecting. It can cause fear. It can trigger insecurities. It is scary. In marriage, we grow so accustomed to each other that something new feels foreign and almost threatening.

Recently, most of our closest friends left the military; as we kept learning about another person leaving, each one came as a shock to us. And what was just some surprising news for me, was much more for my spouse. Foundations about future goals started changing. Future goals we had talked about before we had even been engaged were questioned. Feelings about military life were getting confusing and calloused. And it was all a lot to swallow. I saw my good friends settling down and getting rooted. Then, the feelings I thought were absolute in my mind started changing. And then my spouse and I had more conversations that I never saw us having.

I don’t know what your relationship is going through, but I do know there is a way through because I’ve been through changes. More than one. We’ve been married 12 years and have gone through a lot of evolutions in our marriage.

Change brings growth. And even though growth can hurt, it is good. I will say that no matter what we have gone through in our marriage, specifically during the really hard times, being open and honest with each other has been the best thing. Sometimes brutal truth is the only way to go forward. Being loving, open and committed is a strong part of the equation too. And I will also say that once you’ve worked through the shocking bits and lots of follow-up conversations, the bond strengthens. It’s really when we are in the fire that we come to know how strong we are.

So, take heart in knowing changes are always occurring. If you walk outside, you’ll see the land changing little by little. Even though it might look different than you imagined or different than what it was yesterday, it’s still the same land. And you’re still meant to be there seeing it. Growing in it, changing and evolving.

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  • Great thoughts and reflections on marriage and life. All so very true. Thank you.

  • Martina says:

    You really expressed clearly you thoughts and feelings. You summed it up perfectly. You may change but you are changing together…the honesty and love keeps it to one change not two changing. I’m married 52 years. Would not want Italy other way, today. Maybe could have been more patient, but that wouldn’t be me! It is the honesty and respect for each other that brought us this far….along with both of us believing in Gods help during the times we didn’t control. I wish you a continued love that doesn’t do anything but grow stronger.