My friend made an interesting observation the other day. She noticed that out of all the couples she had seen separated or divorced had one common trait: One spouse grew, while the other remained basically the same.
I’ve said before that I think God puts us in relationships with others so that we can grow. So that we can evolved spiritually into the highest expression of ourselves.
But what happens in a marriage when one spouse grows and the other doesn’t?
How does the change affect the person NOT changing?
Should we not evolve just to make our spouses secure and comfortable?
When one spouse grows and the other doesn’t, does that mean the marriage is doomed to fail?
I’ll admit that I haven’t been in a lot of relationships. (I’m currently involved in my first marriage and really long-term relationship). I also don’t know many divorced couples. But I have witnessed the growth and shifts in my own marriage.
So I can’t speak for everyone, but I will answer those questions with regard to how my marriage has and continues to unfold.
1. So what does happen in a marriage when one spouse grows and the other doesn’t?
Over the last 10 years my husband and I both have grown.
However we have grown in different ways.
For the most part, hubby has grown “functionally.” That is to say that he has matured into being a more responsible and mature adult. He has become better at managing his money and providing for our family. He has become a strong and compassionate leader as he has stepped into different positions at work.
He has focused his growth in this way and has progressed well.
His spiritual evolution (if he would even use that term) on the other hand, is not something that he is focused on.
While he may question his existing religious/spiritual beliefs once in a while, it is not something that he actively pursues.
And then there is me.
My growth has NOT been so functional.
Before I was married I was the typical Type-A student who kept a schedule for studying and completing assignments. I was responsible fiscally and managed my time well. I was then and am now very goal oriented and self motivated.
My focus in the last four years has been on my spiritual growth. Me trying to wrap my head around my purpose in life. Me trying to understand who I am as a wife, mother and woman.
These have been my concerns.
So in my house when one spouse grows (in a spiritual way) the other spouse gets UNCOMFORTABLE.
My husband has had a range of feeling and thoughts over the years about my “changing”.
Mind you, my man is one who (in his own words) “fears change.”
He has felt unsure at times not knowing what I want and where he fits into the “new me”.
He has felt relieved at times when I have realized how magnificently important he is in my life.
He has felt angry at times when he has felt that he could no longer relate to the new Keya.
This is the OTHER SIDE of the story when one spouse changes and the other does not.
We doing the changing think “ Its all good.” “I love the me I’ve discovered.” “I love that I can show the world this wonderful person God created.”
Meanwhile our spouses are left with mixed emotions.
2. How does the “change” affect the one not changing?
I initially thought that my change and growth would precipitate his change and growth.
For a little while it looked like things were happening that way.
And shortly thereafter, hubby started reading (which is something he doesn’t enjoy) books about men understanding their wives.
And then…….it STOPPED.
Did I mention I was tenacious and goal oriented?
I suppose the ole boy just couldn’t keep up.
But even though his spiritual growth has not kept pace with my own, my change has in deed affected him.
He has seen a woman go from completely harsh, brash and selfish to LESS harsh, brash and selfish.
He has been the recipient of kindness. And sometimes OVER kindness.
He has (I hope) felt more at liberty to be himself instead of feeling that he needs to fit into my mold of who he thinks I want him to be.
On the other hand, he has experienced the not so lovely side effects to my spiritual evolution that I mentioned above.
I’ll pick up next time and tackle the other two questions of when one spouse grows and the other doesn’t. In the meantime….
What are your thoughts on spiritual growth within committed relationships?