Stages of life
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.