Early in my relationship, I found myself having to make a dramatic change in my life for which I was neither prepared nor particularly excited. My wife (girlfriend at the time) found herself needing a new place to live, and the only logical and economically feasible solution at the time was for her to move in with me.
On paper, it was a good solution. We could share rent, both of us would have more money to live on, and we no longer had to engineer times to see each other. But I had my home set up the way I wanted it with no room for anyone else. Making room for someone else in my space was not just a change, it was a sacrifice from my point of view. I had to carve out space in my life to accommodate her life.
Of course, as long as I looked at the change from that point of view it caused conflict. Unwittingly, I framed her moving in as an intrusion. I was giving things up — space, belongings, routines — and splitting all those things equally meant I was losing half of my life. More than that, I had to change so much of what was left to try and preserve my own territory that it was hardly the same. I behaved as though I had been invaded.
The problem wasn’t that I didn’t value the relationship. It wasn’t an issue of not wanting her in my life. None of the adages about what makes relationships strong would have fixed the situation, because it wasn’t a relationship problem. The root of it all was that I did not want to change. I did not want things to change around me. I felt that I had built a life for myself, and every time I had to change part of that life I saw it as destruction and loss.
It took far more time than it should have (and some therapy) for me to realize what I had been doing.
Making the change in my relationship and my life at that point was the first time I really understood what it meant to evolve as a person. We don’t become better people unless we adapt to what happens around us. We don’t stop the external forces of change by resisting them, we only stop the resulting internal change. Resistance to change means our personal growth gets stunted. It is not a mark of courage, it weakens us.
Tags: change, growth, personal essay, relationships, religion, spirituality
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