Ace Your Communication

How Couples Can Thrive in Spite of Change

You are not the same person I married

By Susan Koh | 2 July, 2019

“I can’t believe how much you’ve changed since the day I married you.”

What comes to mind when you first read that statement? Were you thinking about a positive change or a negative change as you think about your marriage?

Living in a fast-paced world, we can confidently say that change is the only constant in life. Like seasons, we are constantly evolving and changing over the years. While some changes may be more welcome than others, we can’t always pick and choose how we want our spouse to change.

My husband once told me that men and women have vastly different expectations of each other when they are married. While men marry women with the hope that they never change. Women marry men, with the hope that they will change – Be less sloppy, be more patient, have better time management…the list goes on. If you’re chuckling to yourself, then I’m sure there is some truth to this statement.

While men marry women with the hope that they never change. Women marry men, with the hope that they will change.

Becoming more independent as individuals

As we walk through different seasons in marriage, be it having our firstborn, job changes, or health issues, these experiences will invariably cause us to sit up and adjust the way we view life.

Becoming parents was life changing for me and my husband in so many ways and continues to be so, even as my child turns 10 this year. In the early days, we bonded over acquiring new knowledge on how to care for our newborn, sharing notes on interesting places to take her to on weekends and staying up late to research childcare centre options.

As my daughter grew older, my husband left most of the decision-making regarding childcare to me. Initially, I jumped to the conclusion that it was a lack of interest on his part. But he explained that he trusted me to make the best decisions for our daughter so that he can focus on his career to better provide for our family.

It made me realise as we grow to be more independent and less attached to each other on the hip, that we are also on a personal growth journey ourselves. While we have changed in many ways as a couple, we’re also individuals with aspirations and dreams that have likely evolved from our younger days. It’s not uncommon for couples to experience an identity crisis or even mid-life crisis as the years go by. But what will bind us together is learning to see changes with a new perspective.

As we grow to be more independent and less attached to each other on the hip, we are also on a personal growth journey ourselves.

Approach change from the other person’s perspective

After being married for more than a decade, I’ve come to recognise that not all changes are equal. While our spouse may pick up a new hobby, drop a bad habit, or make new friends, there can also be drastic changes causing us to feel that our partners are no longer the same person we exchanged vows with on our wedding day.

If we can live with these changes, then it’s best not to sweat the small stuff. But if a spouse’s new habits or lifestyle becomes unbearable, like being less prudent with money or over-indulging in a new hobby, then sit him/her down and have an honest conversation about it. Let your partner know how that change is affecting you or your relationship.

If we feel our partner has changed, endeavour to know him/her all over again. Don’t assume that every change is a bad thing. Seek to understand what triggered the change and be curious to rediscover the new side of our spouse. Withhold your judgment and try to see things from their perspective.

Be supportive of your “new” life partner

In your marriage vows, you promised to stay true to each other, for better or for worse. Instead of feeling resigned that you have to live with a seemingly different person, be supportive and remain their biggest cheerleader as they work on becoming a better version of themselves.

We may continue to change as the years go by, but what matters is that you’re both still headed together in the same direction.

Here are some ways you can broach the topic of change with your spouse.

  • Talk about how certain life events have changed them. How is life different now that he is a dad, changing jobs, or approaching their 40s?
  • Ask your spouse how their aspirations for life have changed since marriage.
  • Find out why your partner has developed certain new habits.

If we are honest to ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that both parties in a marriage will change over time. But when two people are committed to each other, they can work through their changes hand-in-hand.

Susan is a self-confessed C+ mum who lives for coffee, chocolate and heartfelt connections. As a mum of one she believes that the best parenting style is parenting with intention and shares her motherhood journey on her blog, A Juggling Mom.

Think about:

  • What are some changes you’ve noticed in yourself or your spouse?

© 2019 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.



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