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Coping with changes within the team

Most people go into marriage assuming that it will be forever.  Some people also go into marriage with the assumption that neither they nor their partner will ever change one iota from who they were at the ceremony.  I think we can all agree that, if we step back and look at it, this is a ridiculous expectation and one entirely impossible to achieve – even if you wanted to.  People are not static entities, if we are not growing, we are dying.

One measure of a strong couple is how they cope with changes within the team.  Strength is not rigidity, it’s flexibility.  There will be times in any long-term relationship where you will need to be flexible in order to endure.  So how does a couple do this?

  1. Realize from the outset that there will be changes in you and changes in your partner – and you’re not going to always like the changes.
  2. Determine if you can live with the change or not.  Is it temporary?  Is it permanent?  How much does it actually affect you?  Keep a long-term view.
  3. If it’s something you absolutely can not live with, get out.  It’s not fair to you or your partner to say you can live with a change when it will build up resentment that’s destined to explode later.
  4. If it’s something you can easily live with, be supportive without being an enabler.  You don’t have to like it to live with it.
  5. If it’s something that you can live with but not exactly as it’s currently presenting itself, negotiate the changes you need in order to live with it.  Again, this isn’t about you liking it, it’s about you living with it.
  6. If a change worries you, talk to your partner about it but give him the benefit of the doubt.

Keep in mind that no change, even a change for the better, is permanent.  A person’s priorities depend largely on their situation.  What’s important to a person at twenty may not be as important at forty or even sixty.  Similarly, a person’s concerns will be different if they’re stable than if they’re insecure (emotionally, financially, etc.).   As the saying goes, “everyone is on a journey.”  Be as accommodating as you can be without losing your identity.

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