Stages of life

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - COMMUNITY - GwenRan­dall-Young

It’s just a stage!” we say, when the lit­tle one starts say­ing “No!”, or the seven year old be­comes un­be­liev­ably silly, or the 15-year-old be­comes un­com­mu­nica­tive and moody. We ac­cept that there are a se­ries of de­vel­op­men­tal changes that we all must go through.

But there seems to be an un­spo­ken un­der­stand­ing that stages be­long to child­hood, and that some­where be­tween the ages of 19-25, we are “de­vel­oped” or “fin­ished”. This is not only in­cor­rect, but can cre­ate dif­fi­culty in re­la­tion­ships as well. Life is a se­ries of stages, one giv­ing way to another.

Some­times adults, like some chil­dren, spend a long time in a par­tic­u­lar stage, or may even regress to an ear­lier one. Some choose to re­main in a stage that has been com­fort­able. Change can be scary, both to the one who is chang­ing, and to those who are af­fected by it.

When a child en­ters a new stage, we do not tell them to go back to an ear­lier stage. We may have to read­just our think­ing, and the way we deal with them, but we ac­cept change as an in­evitable part of growth.

In re­la­tion­ships too of­ten this is not the case. It may be that sub­con­sciously we want our re­la­tion­ships to re­main as they were in the be­gin­ning, be­cause we as­so­ciate that time with a lot of love and hap­pi­ness. If one part­ner be­gins to change, the other can feel that the re­la­tion­ship is threat­ened, iron­i­cally, the ma­jor threat comes not from the change, but from at­tempts to block the change.

As­sume for ex­am­ple, that a woman be­tween the ages of 30-45, feels an urge to do or be some­thing dif­fer­ent than she has been for the past 10 or 15 years. This hap­pens fre­quently, be­cause many women only then be­gin to truly have a sense of who they are, dis­tinct from what ev­ery­one else ex­pects them to be. This may be felt as a kind of rest­less en­ergy, or dis­sat­is­fac­tion with some as­pects of her life.

If she be­gins to ex­press this, and wants to try new ac­tiv­i­ties, or change jobs, or dress dif­fer­ently, or read some­thing new or per­haps be­come in­volved in a cause, and if her part­ner re­sists this ex­pres­sion, the stage is set for dif­fi­culty. It’s a lit­tle like try­ing to put the cap back on a bot­tle of pop that’s been shaken be­fore open­ing. Or a plant that is push­ing its way up through the soil, but is blocked by a rock. It does not stop grow­ing, it sim­ply grows away from the rock, and to­wards the light.

So if you have a part­ner who is chang­ing, and you are re­sist­ing the change, you may want to con­sider what would hap­pen if you pro­vided loving support in­stead of op­po­si­tion. We need en­cour­age­ment at ev­ery stage in our lives, and op­po­si­tion only cre­ates re­sent­ment. And it is the re­sent­ment which poi­sons the re­la­tion­ship, not the change. If you are hav­ing dif­fi­culty sup­port­ing each other, then it may be time to work with a third party, to as­sist you through a dif­fi­cult pas­sage, and back into the light.

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