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Adjusting Marriage
Mom with a View

Adjusting Marriage

People change, and so do marriages.


I have a friend whose marriage I greatly admire. While I’m sure that she and her husband have their share of differences, they seem to really enjoy being with each other. They have a houseful of children and guests but always carve out some private time. They’ve been married for 30 years, and despite the graying hair, wrinkling skin and widening waists, their affection appears to have deepened. In fact, they even seem to embrace the aging process! They have always seemed so in sync.

Which is why I was surprised by what she recently told me. For most of their marriage they were in business together. She would do a lot of it from home but it was an area of shared interest and an integral part of their lives. Although she knew her husband was getting restless, she wasn’t quite prepared for his announcement that he wanted to sell the business and change jobs. Or perhaps just leave it in her hands.

He tried to make it clear that it wasn’t a reflection on their marriage or his feelings about her. He was at that famous “mid-life” stage and wanted to try something different before it was too late.

She did her best to be understanding. In fact, she did understand. But she still felt bereft. And abandoned.

It took her a few months to accurately name her feelings and find her voice. “It feels like one of the essential terms of our marriage has been altered,” she explained tearfully. Her foundation felt a little shaky under her feet.

All this happened a few months ago, long before my friend actually told me anything. And they are slowly, together, working their way towards a new understanding.

It was an important lesson for me. Everyone talks about people growing and changing over time. And the same is true of a marriage. Circumstances change. New situations arise. Marriages need to adjust. And it’s knowing that your marriage can withstand these challenges that helps give you the strength to go on.

I’m glad I was privy to the inner workings of my friend’s marriage. While we know intellectually that no one’s life is without struggles, from the outside her marriage seemed ideal. And perhaps it actually is, because it can roll with the punches.

We all have to confront unexpected tests. How could the terms of a marriage contracted at 25 possibly be the same at 50? It makes sense that marriages need to be flexible. But facing the need to change can be frightening and threatening. Watching my girlfriend gave me hope and encouragement. If we put in the work ahead of time, our house won’t blow over when attacked (I should have studied “The Three Little Pigs” more carefully!) If we make our commitment to each other paramount, we’ll get through the challenges. If we work together we’ll forge a new way of being, perhaps something even better than the old. And if we ask the Almighty to help us, as He has through all of our struggles, He won’t let us down.


For some, change has become a dirty word. But it is actually possible to embrace change for the opportunity it really is.

We get used to the status quo. And families in particular are very invested in preserving their homeostasis -- often at great cost. Research has shown that schizophrenics who have achieved a stable existence often revert to their previous way of being when returned to their family of origin. Part of this is due to the behavior of their parents and siblings who are invest in preserving things just as they have always been. The familiar, even if horrifying, still has a strong pull.

We need to resist inertia and welcome new opportunities. We may just discover something wonderful.

November 21, 2009

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Tee, August 4, 2010 8:17 PM

Everyones view of this is so different!

I agree with you all but I guess that change in any relationship is inevitable. And communication never gets old. However,I think that the couple has a very solid foundation in their marriage and that foundation is that they love each other. When you love someone you are willing to give or take from the relationship. He might have known she needed stability all this time and kept the job as is for her sake and she was of course just becoming aware of his feelings and confessed her own feeling but still allowed him the freedom of self expression and the go ahead to try new things. We are all complicated beings that continue to evolve as time moves on. If we limit ourselves with no challenges then how will we learn who we are and the other person we are with. I think the the couple gave each other what they needed which was love and understanding.

(4) Anonymous, November 25, 2009 10:28 AM

Good relationship - Bad communication

The story above is missing information. I think that many marriages would be a lot better if the spouses were more involved in each other's lives. This couple was lucky that being in business together that had many chances to talk and they were intimately involved in each part of the other's day. What happened then???!!! The husband's restlesness may be understandable in terms of wanting to try something new. However, the request for change highlighted something in their marraiage that they may not have been aware of: there seemed to be a lack of open communication of feelings. Sure they spoke many times during the day and night. Their marraige looked great at a certain level but it all hinged on the fact that they were busy with each other the whole day. Now, the husband is asking to cut the umbilical cord andf try something new. Why did she not know about these feelings? Because it seems that their relationship was not a deep emotional one. She did not feel his change. He did not communicate this change either. So when he suggested it she felt like the foundation of their marriage was crumbling which may be true in their case as now they will have to learn how to do with less involvement and this is very hard when you are used to daily ongoing contact. Interesting Article. Thank you.

(3) Frady, November 24, 2009 10:11 PM

disturbing example

it's true that marriages need to adjust, but in the above story it sounds like the husband is essentially informing his wife that SHE needs to adjust in order for the marriage to continue working as well as before. Does a marriage really improve when one spouse unilaterally decides to change the rules in middle of the game? Just because the wife is a good sport does not mean that this change was good for the marriage, or fair to her.

(2) Anonymous, November 24, 2009 8:03 PM

Growing together?

I agree with SusanE's assessment. Am I projecting, or is your friend salvaging the relationship in all new ways? The more things change, the more they stay the same. There's also a very insightful, albeit brief, mention of maintaining the status quo. Personally, I'm black & blue from the temper tantrums of unmet expectations. It's worth it to me, though, because our LORD wants to shape us in His image. I want to grow UP with my husband, not grow OLD with him!

(1) SusanE, November 22, 2009 4:13 PM

I've Seen Much of This.

The husband didn't say to his wife. "Let's do something different, I'm tired of this business and would like to change direction at this time of our lives." . He is doing this without her. You didn't say what she thought about his restlessness, it was mostly about the wifes feelings. She had noticed that he was becoming restless, but they didn't talk it out together. They weren't in sync on that very important issue. He evidently wanted to sell the business and if the wife didn't want to sell, she could run it herself. His mind is made up. This hasn't resolved yet, and her foundation is a little shakey under her feet. His doing something different is ongoing and will be for awhile. A few months is nothing in a lifestyle change. It may be a year or more till he actually makes his path known. His wife should join him in his new venture. If she isn't invited, then her marriage is also shakey. He made a decision. He was restless, and the wife didn't notice he was unhappy.

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