When One Spouse Grows – Spiritual Evolution in Committed Relationships Part I

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.

I started this spiritual journey (consciously) by reading books on how to be a good and faithful wife.  Books like The Power of a Praying Wife and Passionate Housewives Desperate for God.

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?

About Keya

Keya Williams is a mother of three and Yoga Lifestyle Consultant. She teaches working moms practical strategies to to juggle life & kids without burning out.
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6 Responses to When One Spouse Grows – Spiritual Evolution in Committed Relationships Part I

  1. Yes, I have lived in similar shoes and walked a similar road. Of course, everyone’s story is unique. I pray that your faith will continue to soften your heart and manifest a peace that draws your husband to Christ.

  2. In my experience it has been difficult to grow spiritually while my hubby remains stagnant in the spiritual realm. My spiritual journey is bringing me joy and happiness like I have never experienced. I want him to experience the same thing too. However, I have to be mindful that he is not yet open to awakening and I can’t force it on him.

    • Keya says:

      So true Yanique. Some have said that when the student is ready the teacher appears. We can’t force anyone to be ready. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Rachael Smith says:

    Thank you for this post. I am at a real cross roads with my marriage. My old self would have just run away and never looked back. We now have two beautiful children together, and my decisions affect them also. My son, 3, adores his father, and my baby 5 months lights up when he talks to her. My husband can be very critical and judgemental, all the while I am trying to practice compassion and non-judgement. Sometimes his views are very negative towards other persons, and I do not understand how he can be so cruel. There are not many resources on how to navigate through these things. I often feel frustrated and anger towards him, which did I mention I am trying to be compassionate. There are many details I have left out, however I would appreciate any resources that have helped anyone feeling these same things. Rachael

    • Keya says:

      Thanks for stopping by Rachael! Marriage can be hard, and trust me when I say that my husband and I have gone through (and still go through) our ups and downs. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in marriage is that of acceptance. The fact is you first have to accept who YOU are and be apologetically YOU at all times. The moment you try to change who your are (or your behavior) for someone else you are loosing touch of who God has created you to be. Second you have to accept HIM (your husband). He is just who he is suppose to be at this point in time. He, like you, has his own life journey and his ways of feeling and thinking will not always be your ways. (even though that would make life MUCH easier). Lastly I would say go deep in your prayer life in whatever spiritual tradition you are involved with. We tend to see life through our own narrow perspective MOST of the time. In prayer we are not trying to change the circumstances of our lives but we are praying to see more “rightly” To see the world and the people in it as God sees them. This really changed my perspective of my husband when I began to “try” to see him as God would. A book that I would recommend is one by Stormie Omartian. You can read my review of it at this link. Hope this helps Rachael. Many blessings to you and your marriage!

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