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Do You and Your Partner Change Each Other?

You may heard of, or known, a couple who has been together for a very long time who have grown to look like each other. Some would even say that is a typical progression. Whether true or not, it is pretty clear that partners do have profound affects on each other and change each other. In fact, being changed by your partner is one of the markers of a healthy, long lasting relationship. Some research suggests that one of the best markers of longevity in a relationship is a husband accepting the influence of his wife. 

An article in the latest Psychology Today talks about being changed by partners and how it can be both positive and negative. It talks of learning new habits or giving up old ones, both good and bad, because of a partner. It also talked about the feeling change that comes with “falling in love,” mostly good, and how we are often more motivated to be better people because of our connection to our partners. I know Debbi has changed me for the better in rubbing off some of my harsh spots in interacting with people and making me more likely to initiate conversations with people (overcome my fundamental shyness). 

I actually think we should strive to make our relationships instruments of change. Learning to be truly partnered with someone is difficult at times and is going to stretch and change us. Quite frankly, we are also often attracted to others because of some quality they have, that we don’t, which fascinates us or we wish we had. Often this is what brings couples into my office as those differences, which were so attractive initially, start to become annoying. I think they become annoying as they stretch one out of their comfort zone. Usually the solution involves some moving into that stretch and expanding the comfort zone altogether – changing

Some are anxious about changing; feeling like it takes them away from who they “really are.” In reality the ability change is a part of health. It is necessary to adapt over time as things change. There is some reality to the fear of changing though. Some people, particularly those who tend to be anxiously attached and worry about losing their partner, tend to try to become what their partner wants – what they think they need to do to make their partner happy and keep them engaged. I even know some people who I would rather spend time with alone than with their partner as they lose a part of themselves when their partner is around. Healthy change in a partnership respects and honors the individuality of each person in the relationship. It is not necessarily an easy thing to do, but I am not here to tell you that growth or relationship are easy. 

I encourage you to think about your own relationship, the changes you have made, whether they have been good for you, and how you might use your relationship as a catalyst for positive change.