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Changing Tides: Obstacles & Fresh Starts

Changing Tides · 3 min read

Relationships are Google docs, not PDF’s. They are living, evolving entities where you and your partner both have access to change, add or delete things. When we commit to someone we, of course, commit to who they are in that moment, but also to who they will become. It’s a huge leap of faith. None of us really know who we will be in 10 years. We are all always learning and changing, responding to new inputs in our lives. Unexpected challenges or obstacles could arise for one or both partners and we need to be able to edit things about our relationships like how we communicate, the activities we take on or the ways we spend our time depending on each new situation. 

A couple weeks ago, we discussed new seasons and transitions. If you missed it, you can read that article here. A lot of the same principles apply to obstacles and fresh starts like checking our expectations, speaking up before we meltdown and apologizing where we should. The identifying factor of an obstacle versus a new season or transition is usually that obstacles are unexpected.

Think of a time when your life as a couple became something different than you imagined. It could be your partner’s new job, that you both were initially really excited about, has suddenly kept them away from home a lot and it’s messing with your rhythms of connection and intimacy. Maybe you imagined starting a family would just happen, but it hasn’t, and now you are facing an unknown future you didn’t plan for and wrestling with new options together you never thought you’d have to weigh. What happens when you love your city, your friends and your jobs, no imminent change on the horizon, but an aging parent suddenly needs care and you have to make the hard decision to move or not? 

Every obstacle is an opportunity for a fresh start, a chance to deepen your love, commitment and vulnerability with one another. Sadly many couples see obstacles as the end, not as just a bump or detour along the way. If you find yourself in an unexpected situation in your relationship, here are some ideas to help you choose a fresh start:

  1. Think about how your relationship has changed because of the unexpected catalyst. What do you miss about your lives before? Share that with each other and talk about ways to stick to your values as you adjust to your new reality. 

  2. Revisit or create a list of shared values. Discuss how you can continue to make decisions through a value-driven framework. What needs tweaking about your life because of this new obstacle? 

  3. Discuss any changes that need to be made in how you spend your time, money, energy and other resources. Neglecting to make any adjustments when an obstacle arises could leave you drained in more ways than one. 

  4. Share with each other how you would feel most loved in this new stage of your relationship. One of you might need to talk more than usual to process the changes, or maybe little acts of service would fuel your partner in a busy, disjointed season. 

If you are with your partner for a lifetime, odds are you will face many obstacles. With a little practice, it can become easier and easier to keep choosing fresh starts as you grow and change together. 

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