Podcast #79 Dealing With Change

Change is inevitable, and even with the best intention in the world, couples will grow closer and further apart because of it.

Are we taking on more than is reasonable when we couple-up with someone? Is all change acceptable? Are there better ways to make it work when we’re out of synch? What about discomfort created by one of us changing?

Kregg and I take a big-picture look.

All Change

Coupling up is an optimistic act for the future, moderated by expectations. No matter how clear our vision of the ideal mate, we still have to deal with the reality, a real person.

Real people change. Time and events modify the way we see pretty much everything, including ourselves, and part of sticking with someone is awareness of actual and perceived change.

One of my hopes is for someone who understands this change phenomenon, and how we’re both going to be different tomorrow from today, next year from this. Life is deceptive in this area, because we think we view life changing around us while we remain solidly anchored, like someone watching a movie.  In fact, we’re all changing in different ways all the time, at different speeds. No material entity has a permanent mooring; that’s the job of spiritual pursuits.

Not all change will be good, naturally. Finding ways to communicate that we’re noticing things move along, both inside and outside the relationship, might be one of those critical foundational functions that make it easier to stick together.

Notice and report. Communication and feedback.

Sticking With It

The idea of it is daunting.

Imagine choosing one person in your twenties or thirties, getting to know them for eighteen months or two years and then committing to share your lives together forever. Through good times and bad, failure and success, happiness and sadness, the plan is to stick together.

Absurd as this concept is to the clear-eyed, it works. People make this institution a success and go on to have children who make it a success; that, BTW, adds an additional layer of stress and complexity unimagined at the start.

What’s the secret? Why do we long to make this happen, and how do we claim some of the magic for ourselves?

I wonder if the key isn’t flexibility. Our vision of two people merging into one isn’t helpful. A better simile might be of two dolphins moving together through the ocean. Our dolphins move in generally the same direction, sometimes side-by-side, sometimes in looser formation. Oftentimes they know when the other will change direction, and they change direction instantly or, when they get the picture, after a while. They hang around in the same area playing together, but not necessarily with each other, and they always have their mate’s back.

The two of them are individuals, but it’s clear that even if they’re apart, they remain together…a fact acknowledged by them and their tribe.

That’s a long way of suggesting that flexibility in the face of change might be an under-represented part of the secret to success. Whomever changes must help the other to join them on the path, that’s their responsibility. Whomever is being helped must absorb the change and do their best to keep up.

Obvious caveats about legality, morality and danger apply, but recognizing that we all change is a big step. It opens the door.

Moonshot

Sorting through old family photos and launching them into the cloud awakens long-dormant memories and emotions. Connecting the dots of our lives isn’t a daily priority, but when 100 years of evidence flashes across the screen, resisting is futile.

From this distance, it’s cleat that life is a series of phases. We could extrapolate that to something bigger, that everything is a kind of perpetual moving into, within and beyond a phase. The connective tissue between phases in all of our lives is the people, some of whom overlap, some of whom do not.

Change is inevitable. I wonder if coupling with a right person is about our mutual ability and willingness to stay with each other through life’s changes. That is an enormous ask, today more than ever. Phase direction and magnitude will always be unknowable. Not only will we have decades of unpredictability together, we don’t know how we as individuals will phase in and out, let alone the relationship or – gasp!- the world around us.

Choosing carefully remains critical…but we’ll never be certain.

Podcast #74 Where Is My Prey?

Wherever I look I don’t find anyone. I like my coffee buddies, my family, the people at the golf club, but I never seem to meet any nice women. Where are they? 

Does this – or an applicable version – sound familiar? Failure to connect with those we hope to meet is our fault and therefore within our ability to change.

Uh-oh. There’s that c-word again. Listen to this week’s podcast and see if we make change palatable.