What happens to your relationship when you change?

When you get into a relationship the first heady weeks and months of pleasure make you think that things can never change. This will be your life from now on – your perfect mate and your perfect future. Reality eventually intrudes and you settle into a life of enjoying the good things and accepting the bad things in your partner. But what happens if you really fundamentally change and grow so much that you feel you are no longer in the right relationship?

 

Jane met Stuart when they were both at university in Nottingham. Doing the same course, they had lots in common and discovered a shared passion for camping and hill walking. Jane felt she had found her life partner and, in their third year, they moved in together. Two years after uni, having taken a gap year together travelling and then settled into first jobs, they married and moved into a flat in London.

 

Stuart quickly moved ahead in his career and, when Jane fell pregnant, she felt as if she was being forced out of the workplace, her professional skills and judgement ignored, just because she was female and pregnant. Stuart didn’t seem to notice and happily reflected his excitement at his own career progress, while expecting Jane to become a stay at home mum, with little professional input.

 

When their daughter turned five, Jane decided to go back to work, but it was hard to break back in, until she applied for a role at a new start-up. The work was exciting and Jane quickly made up for lost time. The start-up grew quickly and Jane with it, until she was a senior manager in a mid-size and fast-growing company.

 

Stuart meanwhile was slowing down and seemed intimidated by the new and dynamic Jane.

 

One day Jane looked at Stuart and realized they had become different people. They no longer had interests in common, not much to talk about and rapidly diverging priorities… Their daughter was the only thing they had left in common.

 

What should Jane do?

 

This is an all too common story in lots of variations, which is why there is a divorce rate of around 34% by the 20th wedding anniversary in the UK. And with increasing numbers of people opting to live together and have children without being married, there are no statistics for break-ups outside of traditional marriages, so rates of split could be even higher.

 

Rules for making it last:

 

Consciously create time for each other every day and every week

Stop and listen to your partner and their changing interests, worries and concerns

Actively build common interests, hobbies and activities

Make sure you have sex at least once a week – the couple that stops sleeping together will almost surely split up

Take genuine interest in your partner’s career and life away from you

Be accepting of your own changing circumstances – remember, we can’t all rule the world – and don’t take your frustrations out on your partner.

 

And if it is time to move on:

 

Having tried to revive your relationship, genuinely assessed the prospects of revitalizing the relationship…

If it is clearly over, end amicably

Be supportive and never vindictive

Become friends, if no longer life partners

Focus on the future

 

Good luck!

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