Changes are inevitable in life, and it's important to know how to cope with change.
If there's anything this COVID-19 pandemic has taught all of us, it's that if your marriage hasn’t changed in the past four months, then something is wrong.
For the first time in our lives, "'till death do us part" doesn't mean going any farther than to the grocery store and back.
The pandemic has created many relationship changes, forcing many couples to not only to look at how they want to live, but also how to live out their marriage.
(Just to be clear, I’m not counting the hundreds of thousands of people that had to bury a loved one due to this pandemic.)
An article in The New York Times titled, "What Changes in the First Year of Marriage – For Millennials Not Much."
I had to give that the side-eye because, of course, things aren’t going to change much in the first year for most couples, no matter what age.
In the beginning, you’re still enjoying the journey of exploring your lives together, and still having frequent sex.
What about couples who have been together for three to five years who are constantly caring for their children, because there's no daycare access?
Or those who have been together for seven to 10 years where, instead of maintaining their role as husband and wife, they were "teacher A" and "teacher B," as well as the family entertainment director.
Maybe they're married 15 years, and are just finding out one partner would prefer to be experiencing social distancing with someone else.
Or, finally, after 20 years, one partner feels the marriage has run its course and as soon as a vaccine is found... Well, you know.
How can couples cope with relationship changes?
With all the external uncertainty that's going on in this world, it’s hard to fathom or even acknowledge that your internal world could be just as chaotic.
Even if that's the case in your marriage, you can still help alleviate the anxiety you may be feeling and prepare for the changes ahead.
Think of change as growth.
A few months ago, my wife asked me a question: "Are we the same people we were when we got married?"
I had to meditate on that for a while, but the answer was, "Of course not."
I was a 29-year-old man that knew nothing about raising three kids and fulfilling another person’s needs, wants, and desires, trying to mesh them with my own to make our teamwork effectively.
Sure, I made a lot of mistakes, like quitting my job with no real plan and not being able to comfort my spouse enough during 9/11. But ultimately, after 23 years together, I grew — and we grew — in the process.
If your spouse has reached a crossroads due to a certain point in their life, don’t see it as a death sentence to the relationship — figure out how you can use this chance to grow.
If your relationship needs to adapt, you have to learn how to cope with change.
Fellas, most of the time we operate under the "if It ain't broke, don’t fix it" motto.
But what we don’t realize is that our wives have been carrying the emotional weight of the relationship and are constantly growing once they decided to have children with us.
No longer were they able to focus solely on themselves, but somehow, had to balance multiple roles: mother, wife, maybe sister, and maybe daughter before themselves.
How many multiple roles did we elect to take on? Two, maybe three at best.
So, whether you like it or not, your marriage is changing as a result of your wife looking in the mirror and deciding that some of these roles she has taken on — whether by choice or not — will no longer be a priority.
She's now putting herself, first.
How are you going to adapt to make sure she is honored for her decisions?
Change is a process.
When you sit down with your spouse — in private or with a counselor — and discuss some of these changes, realize that it will be a process getting to the relationship you desire.
There are no quick fixes when it comes to making wholesale changes to a relationship that has matured over the years.
You will have to think about 4 important things.
1. What changes do you both need to make in order for the relationship to be better?
This will take several conversations. It's important to use active listening skills to ensure each of you is heard and have clearly stated your intentions for your new relationship.
2. Do you have the desire to make those changes?
Yes, it’s easier to just keep things status quo, but at what cost? Your marriage?
If you want your marriage to improve for the long haul, be open to learning the new facets of your partner, and vice-versa.
3. Is there a plan to make the changes? How will you check in with each other to see how they're going?
Don’t allow fear and regret to be the driver to not move forward.
4. How will you prepare for setbacks?
Don’t beat yourself up if the process takes longer than you expected. Allow the journey to happen naturally.
If you cry out in frustration, let it out. If you can reach out to someone you trust to talk, make sure you do.
Once you come out on the other side, you'll be proud of who you are now and how you showed up.
Change in a marriage is inescapable.
It may be uncomfortable — or downright incomprehensible — that you must change now after years of marriage. But if you embrace change as necessary, you might become more resilient as a couple and maybe even happier.
Original Article appears in YourTango.com