Many of us know at least one couple where one of them has gone through some big life shift and the other is struggling with the changes. These are big changes like a sudden "conversion" to a different religious discipline, or perhaps one of them decides to quit their job and go back to school full time.
What causes these changes and how do we deal with them?
As a person grows and matures, little changes occur, small shifts in personality, as we decide what "role" we are comfortable with in the world. This is the "who we think we are" perception of reality. This happens to everyone. For some, it will happen throughout their lives as they remain alone. For others, it's the fact that they are in a healthy relationship that allows change to happen.
In a relationship that is full of trust and respect, we feel very comfortable around our partner. Our partner makes no judgement about our behavior and let's us be ourselves. There's a nurturing factor there, and where there is nurturing , there is growth.
So we continue to grow personally in our relationships until something occurs. We might hit a plateau where we feel like we've reached where we want to be. We settle in to our new routine and begin to explore all that is there for us. Or we may feel like we are so close to a shift that we take the leap into the "unknown"!
Unfortunately, this often leaves our partners and lovers behind. They are watching our growth from the outside and aren't involved in the incremental changes that happen up to the point of a major change.
Advice to the person undergoing a change...keep your partner informed. Talk with them often about what's going on in your life. Just a brief chat everyday will help to keep them up to date on what's going on and what you're thinking. While they won't be able to "feel" the drive that's keeping you motivated, they'll feel as if they are a part of the process. This will help them to feel not so left out and gives them the chance to provide a different perspective, which is always useful.
For the person watching the change happen in the other person, remember that this is the result of growth and expansion. In the end, if the relationship is healthy to begin with, this can serve to strengthen the relationship. The person is growing because of something they are passionate about. This passion can encompass the whole relationship and create an even greater bond between two people.
Unfortunately, this can also be a time of great stress. A partner may wonder where there partner or lover has "gone" because they don't seem like themselves. At this point in their lives, they are trying to figure out who (or what) they are, which will give a clearer definition to who they are. Again, communication is the key.
Big changes in a person's life is a natural occurrence. Frequent discussions about what is going on and how things are going is important to the health of a loving relationship. Keep in mind that in the end the relationship will be stronger for the changes. Like individual people, relationships need to bend and flow around challenges to survive and grow.
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