How And Why Marriages Change Over Time
By: Angela W. McShan
Updated August 03, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC
Most marriages begin as the beautiful union of two people who have confessed their unwavering love for each other for a lifetime. This is the foundation of a strong relationship and is often expected to be the primary source of strength and support for both people. The amount of time a marriage lasts varies. Some couples are married for a few weeks, months, years, and others for a lifetime.
Regardless of how long a marriage lasts, change is inexorable. There are several patterns or courses of change that takes place over the years. The most familiar or common type of change is physical, but what happens beyond that? What other factors of change occur in a marriage? Change impacts marriages in several ways. Some people refuse to accept the change that occurs in relationships. This is why it's difficult for some marriages to work.
It's common for couples to become concerned or fear the unknown when their marriage begins to go through unexpected changes. Preparation helps each person to acknowledge, adjust, and accept the changes that occur.
How Do Marriages Change Over Time?
If you're in a marriage or expecting to be in one soon, it's good to know what changes to expect. Though the changes will vary, some are quite common among all marriages. These changes aren't the expected ones, such as an address or name change or an increase in your tax bracket.
Change in marriages doesn't occur overnight. There are phases of change that take place throughout the marriage. For many, it happens right before their eyes, and they barely notice it until it begins to affect their relationship.
Here are a few common changes that may occur in a marriage.
Romance is one of the primary factors that can change in a marriage. The long conversations while gazing into each other's eyes, holding hands, and enjoying a nice night on the couch can eventually begin to be taken for granted. These are the little things that likely surfaced early on after the relationship became exclusive. Marriages lose a lot of romance because people begin to get comfortable and feel there is no need to do their first things. Romance is a big part of happiness in a marriage.
Time management becomes almost impossible for some couples after they're married. They start to devote more time to studies or work to build a better future for their family. This happens in relationships as one or both people in the marriage strive towards success or do more volunteer work for their children's activities and other similar commitments. This change can be avoided if the couple makes a conscious effort to make time for each other at least once or twice per week.
A communication breakdown often occurs in marriages. For some, it seems that the longer they're married, the more they begin to assume that their spouse knows everything. However, this mindset may contribute greatly to the results that show poor communication is one of the leading causes of failed marriages. Couples need to express themselves freely in a relationship and learn how to engage each other ineffective communication. Marriage counselors can help couples work through their communication issues and other issues in the relationship. Opening up to your partner and keeping the lines of communication open helps to avoid major confusion or conflict in the marriage.
Couples seem to go out on fewer dates after they're married. It's important to date your mate even after saying "I DO" to keep the spark alive. Continue to arrange date nights that you both will enjoy. It may be more effective if the two of you create a schedule that permits a change in the planning process. Alternate the planning routine to keep it interesting, and the element of surprise is good for the relationship. Date night can be arranged to work around both schedules but try to go out at least once or twice per month without the kids.
Couples begin to lose their connection after marriage. Some marriages grow while others grow apart. This is due in part to the disconnect that takes place between the couple. Factors such as failure to communicate, date, and romance each other all contribute to the disconnect. It's important to continue to engage your mate after marriage. Make sure to remain aligned in every aspect of the marriage. Whisper sweet nothings to let your partner know that you still feel the same way you did at the start of the relationship. Offer to carry the bags while walking through the mall. Husbands should still open the door to show simple acts of kindness. These are all little ways to maintain a strong connection with your spouse.
Finances are a major change that may occur in some marriages at one point or another. More than half of married couples reportedly want a partner to provide financial security in the marriage. If finances are a concern at the start of a marriage, it can be a welcome change if they improve. However, changes that cause a downward spiral of finances could place a strain on the marriage. The loss of a job could lead to a lack of income in the household. This could cause bills to fall behind or other financial hardships for the family. It is always best to discuss finances and work together to ensure that everything stays afloat. Please make plans to approach challenges as a couple and devise a plan as soon as possible to overcome any challenges that may present themselves.
What Can You Do to Avoid or Cope with Change?
The most important thing you can do in a marriage to avoid the change is to prepare for it before getting married. Be open to welcoming any good or bad changes. The love you have for each other will give couples the strength they need to deal with negative changes in the marriage. Most couples become consumed with the idea of marriage and how it was in the beginning. This prevents them from realizing that it requires work to make it work.
Here are a few suggestions to help your marriage endure any changes that may occur.
- Talk to your spouse. Marriages are built on love, trust, and open communication. Talk to your spouse about the things that happen throughout your day and anything that concerns you. Your mate should be the first person you turn to when something is bothering you. Set aside a few minutes each day, approximately 20-30, and sit and talk about anything that comes to mind. This should be done even when there are no big concerns in life.
- Be honest with your spouse. Honesty is the foundation of trust. Always tell your spouse the truth, even when it's uncomfortable. This is especially important for couples that have dealt with infidelity or other types of betrayal in the marriage. Most importantly, be honest without having to be asked. Your mate will appreciate you being forthcoming without them having to pry or plead the truth out of you.
- Develop a plan to address and overcome the changes. It doesn't help to avoid the changes that you notice happening in your marriage. They must be addressed before you can overcome them. Couples should talk and create a plan detailing what they will do differently to turn things around. The beautiful thing about marriage is that there is always room for growth, and sometimes changes prompt growth.
- See a marriage counselor. It can be difficult for the couple to address and overcome the changes in the marriage. Sometimes a neutral party is more effective at helping the couple exhibit the necessary habits for a loving marriage. Consider the benefits of talking with a counselor to help guide you through this challenging phase of the marriage.
- Accept the change. Sometimes change is positive. Marriages grow, and the people in the relationship grow and change also. It's important to remember that growth can be successfully accommodated if both parties are willing to grow into the change that has occurred. Finding a happy place is the best way to maintain a strong marriage. You can enjoy change and the happiness that accompanies it also.
Although change can be difficult at first, it's inevitable in most marriages. Perspective may change, level of attraction may change, or other attributes may change as well. Couples should prepare themselves for change and anticipate the best approach to make this change easier to adjust to.
Take these steps as you begin to experience a change in a marriage.
Make Decisions Cautiously
It's important to make decisions as a couple. Refrain from making long-term decisions as a result of the short-term change. Don't decide to move to purchase a home, buy a car, or relocate to another state based on temporary changes in the marriage. Decisions made at the moment during a heated conversation or an argument are never good. Take time to think things over before making any life-changing decisions that will impact the marriage.
Change can cause panic in anyone. It's important to maintain a sense of calmness when things begin to change in the marriage. You can still find value in your relationship and enjoy your mate. Change doesn't always equate to disaster. Just as humans undergo physical changes, expect the relationship to undergo the same.
Examine the Positive Aspects of the Change
Although change can be scary or uncomfortable, there is a chance that something good can come from those changes. Examine the positive aspects of the change that has occurred in the marriage. Refuse to focus on all the negative aspects because it ruins the chance of recovering from the change that is taking place. Be open to admitting that the changes aren't to blame on anyone person in the marriage. Spend more time trying to create ways to focus on the positive changes and how the marriage can capitalize on them moving forward. Show the same patience and love with your partner that you would want them to show you. They're experiencing similar feelings because the change impacts them also.
Talk to Other Married Couples
It's important to engage other married couples. It offers several perspectives on how marriages differ. In a marriage that only befriends singles, it's easy to become confused or begin to miss the elements that existed when you were single. Surrounding yourself with other married couples provides an opportunity for you to see what others do when they encounter change and how they cope with the changes.
If your marriage is experiencing changes and you're unsure how to cope, begin by speaking with your mate. It's important to understand how the other person perceives these changes before devising a plan to work through them. Every relationship is established on principles, but principles vary among relationships. Remain committed to taking care of the things that matter most to you as a couple and never allow the other person to feel as if their concerns aren't important.
Staying in touch with your feelings and acknowledging the love you have for your mate daily is one way to make accepting change easier. In a marriage, anything can be conquered if you don't try to conquer it alone. Think back to all the reasons you fell in love in the first place. Use these thoughts to help recall how life felt less than complete before you became one. If it's not an option to go back to that place of incompletion and you truly want to remain in a happy and loving relationship, agree to work on whatever changes as they come. Marriages change because couples grow, and just as your love for your spouse becomes stronger over the years, so should your desire to overcome challenges or obstacles.
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