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Who Did I Marry?

3d human with a red question markPeople are funny. While they may say they hate change, they themselves change over time. Our tastes, our attitudes our lifestyles all tend to evolve as we age. As the parent of teenagers I can assure you that the pop music that I listened to back in the day was far better than the crud they listen to now! So you could argue, that my taste in music hasn’t changed… that would be untrue. When I was a teen, my taste in music was to like what every other teen liked. While I still listen to Classic Rock on occasion, my interests have broadened greatly as I have matured and been exposed to different genres. While true for music, the same holds true for foods that I love, places I want to visit and hobbies I want to try.

I’ve been happily married for thirty-five years. But I’m not the same person that I was on my wedding day (I thank God for that). And the reality is, neither is my wife. I honestly don’t know if I had somehow met my wife in her current state years ago if I would have fallen in love with her (taking the age difference out of the picture), nor do I know if she would have agreed to marry the current me. But I can honestly say that we’re happier in our marriage today than we’ve ever been. How can that be?

The key to a lasting relationship is to first recognize that change is inevitable. Embrace it. But allow yourselves to change together, supporting one another in the process over time. That takes not only commitment, but effort and awareness. It also means taking a keen interest in your partner.

So many marriages that I have seen result in divorce seemed to have failed at this. Truth be told, the pinnacle of their relationship was the wedding day, and the relationship began a slow decline from that point forward. That happens when each partner is focused primarily on their own needs, their own desires, their own careers and interests. With this self-centered focus, it seems inevitable that growth and change will occur, but what does that do to the relationship? If you’re not growing together, you’re growing apart. And that is that natural way things occur.

In nature, there is a term called entropy. It deals with energy and time. But in a very simplistic description, without an outside energy force, things to degrade over time. Think about your house. The day it was built, it may have been nearly perfect. But if you did not exert energy over time to maintain it, it would eventually fall to the ground. That’s why you paint it, clean the gutters, caulk around windows, seal your driveway and conduct other preventative maintenance type activities. Everything in the natural world acts essentially the same way. Why would a marriage be any different?

If you apply no energy to the relationship, it will fall apart in time just as your house would. If your energy is self-focused, you will grow over time. But you will grow independently of your spouse. Let this behavior happen over time and you will look up one day and wonder who that is sitting across the breakfast table from you. You may hardly recognize who they’ve become, let alone feel connected to them in any way. Apply that same energy to the relationship instead and watch what happens. Granted, energy is not unlimited. You would think this approach would slow your personal growth somewhat. But what you will find is that there is a synergy that takes place, meaning that the result of your collective efforts will be greater than the sum of the parts that went into it.

I encourage you to grow and to adapt over time. But focus on doing so as a couple. You’ll find that you both change

considerably, but at the same time, you’ll experience a closeness that you may have never dreamed possible.

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