We all hear the reasons that are commonly cited for divorce—stress brought on by money issues, becoming parents, overwork, and/or a lack of sex. While these are all factors in marital unhappiness, several studies point to a one common thread—change. Let’s face it, everyone changes as they mature and grow older, and this leads to a change in relationships. And apparently, when someone changes and their partner doesn’t, or vice versa, it can contribute heavily to divorce.
The NY Times’s Modern Love column has a piece on this topic running right now. It touches on studies that deal with change and how change is a given in relationships and especially long-term marriage. Yet many people complain about how a partner has changed or say they have grown apart because they changed and their partner didn’t. But really, how could a relationship survive if it was static, and besides, there is no such thing.
Ada Calhoun, the author of this NY Times piece examines the topic through the lens of her own marriage(s), and the changes in her as she matured and changed through her 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. She was one person in her youth, desiring a certain lifestyle and had a man she kind of shared that with. Yet, the relationship was not working as she came to realize they wanted different things, especially from the relationship itself. So she asked him to move out and on, and a few years later she met the man she plans to grow old with.
During this second marriage, they completely changed lifestyles, but both adapted and found sides to themselves they never knew existed. Together they have faced their differences and celebrated their similarities, complementing and challenging one another—but in a way that leaves them happily content.
Her story tells of how change can be adapted to and embraced, as what anyone thinks they want and need from life is subject to the changes that aging and the stages of life bring to everyone. How people accept the changes in themselves and each other may be the key to keeping happiness alive and keeping people out of divorce court.