How to Navigate Change in Marriage Together
Pinterest makes it pretty clear: a lot of people get married.
But it takes a lot of courage to be married. The depth of refinement that comes from the constant engagement with another human is sometimes terrifying, but, for the open hearted, it can be sustaining.
What makes the commitment so terrifying is the change.
I think change scares a lot of people when they consider marriage. What if my spouse changes? What if I change? Deep down you know you will. You know your spouse will too. Maybe that is causing tension in your relationship. Maybe you are wondering, how do we change in marriage together?
The short answer: Humility.
Humility because a healthy relationship requires recognition of our limits--that we do not know everything about our spouse and that we too have needs.
I struggle with assuming. Ya know, I can be sort of an @$$ sometimes. I assume that my partner is a mind reader. He knows all of my needs without me having to say a word. If I use the right facial expressions or drop hints then he’ll for sure know how to meet my needs. And if he doesn't intuitively meet my needs then I have the right to be upset.
Did you just laugh out loud?
I did too! It sounds hilarious as I read it to myself, but I really have approached our marriage from this perspective. By my holding tightly to the assumption that my spouse should be able to read my mind & my lack of humility to clearly communicate my needs we’ve experienced friction (okay, we fight) in our relationship--all due to pride.
You don’t know how you or your spouse will grow, where you’ll find tension, or the new passions you’ll discover throughout your lives. Chances are you are not a fortune teller or mind reader. Stop acting like it (and don’t expect this from your spouse either).
Instead choose humility.
Choose to create space where you both feel brave to share your needs and ask about the needs of your lover. Become the safest person for your spouse.
It takes a lot of humility to ask your spouse vulnerable questions like, “how can I love you well today?" or, "how can I encourage you this week?” because it recognizes that you do not already have all the answers and it keeps you open to the change your partner needs to thrive.
It also takes a good dose of courage to honestly share what you need and what you expect. Communicating my needs is the most challenging part of marriage. From the daily support I crave to my sexual desires, identifying my lack and my wants is tough business. By remembering how brave, healthy, and beautiful it is to open up and connect (and that I have a choice to create the marriage I want), I gain the courage to choose to communicate again and again.
Yes, there are aspects of your character and personality that your spouse loves already. BUT as you change and as your spouse changes, choosing to adapt to the new needs of your love takes intentional effort.
This isn’t permission to boss each other around, demanding that your very specific needs are met by your significant other at every waking hour. This isn’t a pass to act like a jerk and say “well, this is the real me” either.
Instead, this is an invitation to flow together. To show genuine interest in and care for each other as you walk through all seasons of life.
Ignoring or suppressing your changes could be detrimental to your own personhood and even your marriage.
Instead, choose to invest time and energy towards learning about your spouse and yourself. Committing to learn how to better love, better celebrate, better comfort your spouse for the rest of your days is what you are really promising on your wedding day. Not just to love your spouse as he or she is on your wedding day, but to love them every day in the ordinary and big moments. Love them in all the dynamic ways they are. Remember, marriage takes guts. How will you change together?