A big part of coupledom is growing together. This almost always involves trying to make big changes as a team. Sure, things sometimes feel “perfect.” We tell each other: “I wish it could always be like this.” But, in reality, relationships must evolve or else we risk becoming stagnant and discontent.
Change is Permanent
Even those who cling to routine can understand how inevitable change is. The trick, it seems, is learning to embrace it. Roll with it. Use it to your advantage. Disarm that nagging fear that your relationship will be wrecked.
All good things require regular maintenance. Our car gets a tune-up, our phones need updates, and we don’t stop exercising when we like how our body looks and feels. Relationships thrive on change—big and small.
What are Some of the Big Changes?
The possibilities are endless but here are some of the ways couples change everything:
- Choose new career paths
- Go into business together
- Start a family
- Explore an open relationship
- Make major changes in your spiritual life
- Try a dramatically new dietary lifestyle
- Shift your social circle
6 Ways to Change Everything and Not Wreck Your Relationship
- Work on your Communication Skills
Changes—tiny and immense—are made easier thanks to healthy communication. Make this your permanent top priority. Fine-tuned communication can sometimes be a relationship-saver.
- Check Those Power Dynamics
Whether we want to admit it or not, social dynamics play a role in our life. The dominant culture in which we all live provides unearned privilege to some of us due to race, skin color, sex, class, age, etc. These power dynamics can very much impact the process of making big changes. Keep them in check. Talk about them in your regular relationship check-in meetings (see #5 below).
- Learn From Others
Not everything requires the reinvention of the wheel. Success leaves clues so find yourselves a role model or two and check out the paths they’ve already blazed.
- Remember to Take Breaks
No matter how big the change, we need time to rest, laugh and share intimacy. Get out for a good time and leave your big change alone for a night. A visit to the Oakland Coliseum will give you the chance to scream your lungs out for the A’s!
- Have Regular Check-in Meetings
Success is not an accident. Planning is essential. One practical way to stay on top of rapidly shifting circumstances is to talk about it. Have regular check-in meetings with your partner to assess progress and, if needed, make adjustments.
- Remind Yourselves: This Will Also Change
You may have begun changing everything with a conversation about how inevitable change is. In those times when you feel doubt and fear, tell yourself the same thing. Even the biggest changes will shift, morph, and evolve over time. Do your best, but accept the soothing fact that time will play a role.
In Case of Emergency, Consult a Change Expert
Preparing for a big change is a challenge. Even more daunting might be getting both of you on the same page about the details. Couples counseling is the kind of guidance you need before any further change is attempted.
No matter how structured your plans are, an outside perspective is helpful—especially when it comes from an experienced pro. If there are tough topics you’re avoiding, your regular therapy sessions will make space for them. If the first step of the big change is shaky, you’ll have a safe haven to hash it out. Most of all, you won’t be left without an all-important and honest ally with your best interests as their top priority.