Ask anyone who has passed the 5, 10, or 20-year mark in a marriage and they will tell you that they often feel like they are married to a stranger. You know the feeling. Years ago, your spouse would open the door for you, fix you a drink, sit next to you on the couch and stay up late laughing with you at the Late Show. Today, the two of you barely speak and seem completely uninterested in pleasing one another. Some of the things that made you fall in love in the first place, are simply gone or at least disappeared. It may seem as if they have changed so much that you don’t even recognize them as the person you have married.
If you find yourself saying, ‘You are NOT the person I married,’ to your spouse then you should take heart that you are not alone. One of the key things that few people prepare for under the blanket of ideals and fairy tales that cover marriage, is that people change with time. Even people you love change. Your own parents have changed, your friends have changed, and your children change every day. And so does your spouse. Very few things in life stay exactly the same.
Relationship experts see this scenario over and over again. A couple sitting in the office arguing about how much one another has changed in the past three years. The couple is full of phrases that start with, ‘she used to do this,’ or ‘he used to do that.’ Yet, psychologists believe that while many people change their behaviors during marriage, much of the ado is about a let down due to high expectations of marriage combined with complacency (or comfort) felt by the individuals who make up the couple. In other words, these new, mystery characteristics that are seemingly popping up out of nowhere are really your partners ‘true colors,’ showing through. There is less of the feeling that they have to ‘impress’ or ‘thrill’ one another because they already have ‘won’ the prize. And over time, other emotions that replace the frenzied phase of love that brought the two of you together begin to surface which can take the inertia and excitement out of marriage. For nearly all of us who are married, this transformation from the newlywed to the ‘old married couple,’ can be a bit of a letdown.
‘you are NOT the Person I Married’ Key Reasons People Change in a Marriage
It is important for married people to realize that the changes in behaviors whether it is due to complacency or other things isn’t the end of the world. In fact, sometimes, the changes in your partner can be welcome and can feel very comfortable. The trick in keeping nearly any marriage (or relationship) alive is showing mutual respect and love as often as possible.
- Taking One Another For Granted: There are also many reasons that people do change. If your husband made you a latte every single day of the year, and suddenly stops you might wonder why. He, on the other hand might be so tired of the fact that he does this simple gesture to show his love for you without so much as a thank you or kiss on the cheek. Sure, this is a small thing making someone else a cup of coffee. But when a spouse begins to take these little things for granted and doesn’t show the inclination to reciprocate the partner can feel taken advantage of and therefore become resentful.
- Complacency: When you are at home, you should be free to be yourself. If this means you want to lay around on the couch in your nightgown all day without brushing your teeth then so be it. Perhaps your partner burps, or doesn’t use the best manners at home. Married people become very comfortable with one another, and sometimes they forget that this ‘comfortable’ state is what their partner sees on a constant basis. They may miss the fancy, funnier, more engaging you that they remember from early on in the relationship. This sense of personal complacency can play a roll in many areas of a marriage, from sex drive to enjoying spending time together.
- Reality Sets in: Planning a wedding is easy. Having kids is easy. But when the reality of marriage and family sets in, life changes completely and these changes can be a hard transition on a couple. Bills to pay, mouths to feed, things to do, jobs to work, family to keep in touch with are just a few of the marital responsibility that can change a relationship.
- Boredom: Many couples get so set in a routine that boredom sets in. Then, they are stuck in a rut, and neither person can sort of drag the other out. it’s natural for marriage to get boring and for things to feel redundant over time. When you begin to feel this way, it is important to step out of your metaphorically comfortable box and mix things up a bit. Go out on a date. Do something different.
It is also very important that people remember to tell one another just how much they love each other and to continue to remind one another how special they are. Remember why you got married in the first place, and try to do small, and simple things to keep the love alive. You might be surprised how much staying in touch with your ‘relationship roots’ does for keeping the two of you in love.
If you are patient and work hard, you might find that while your spouse isn’t exactly the person you married they are now an even better version of themselves!