How does your transformation affect your relationship? Lady Chatterley reflects on love, life and change.
Over the last few months, a friend of mine got engaged, another put the finishing touches on her 2014 wedding and another received divorce papers. Each milestone is laden with unique emotion and meaning. There’s hope and sadness in that cycle of beginning and ending. Grief and expectation.
Witnessing these moments, each a unique part of the cycle of relationships, made me reflect on the huge undertaking it is to marry someone, or make a commitment to them, with the intention of staying with them and loving them forever. It made me realize what a huge leap of faith it is when we say, “I love you today and I’ll love you tomorrow.”
Change is deeply humbling to ponder because as individuals we’re changing all the time. Both physically, emotionally and psychologically. We are not the same people we were ten or even five years ago. And we won’t be the same in ten more. This poses an interesting question: what implications do our own changes have for love, both for us and our partners?
Events in life can both shape and shatter us. We become parents. We lose loved ones. We grieve. We take jobs. We lose jobs. We fall ill. We have existential crises. And for most of us, these things happen while we’re in a living breathing relationship, when our sense of self is still a little shaky.
And yet we stand poised, sometimes in front of our family and friends, flushed with the belief that we will face whatever life throws at us together. That we’ll change and grow alongside one another. And yet clearly (sadly), this doesn’t always happen.
There are probably lists floating around out there in cyberspace with “5 ways you can grow and change together instead of growing apart.” Lists that attempt to distill the complexities of life and relationships into a simple how-to. We’re used to these lists now. Swimming in the choppy, swirling sea of the modern world, we digest bite-sized chunks of information, searching for a quick fix. A map that guides and speaks to us.
While those lists serve a purpose, it’s rarely that simple. I don’t have the answers, but I wonder if successful marriages and relationships come down partially to chance. A combination of the events we face, the way those events change us, and the way we fit together as time goes by. We choose our life partner but we don’t choose what happens to us during our lifetime.
That’s not to say that we’re powerless or that we can’t fight to keep our relationships strong regardless of the hand we’ve been dealt. The truth is, we rummage around in the tool box of our hearts and minds. We draw on our empathy. Our compassion. Our humour. And then afterwards, we decide whether we can go on together in our new skins. Or if we simply can’t.
If personal change is inevitable, what implications does this have for relationship dynamics? Have you been in a relationship where you’ve both changed? How has it (not) worked? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.
image credit: Flickr/huipiiing
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