The Happiness Connection  

Welcome marital change

I love people watching. Recently, I was at a family wedding and had the perfect opportunity to indulge in a little human observation.

I hadn’t seen much of this branch of the family for many years, because they are spread over two continents, neither of which is North America.

The last time our entire families were together, the parents of the bride were married; now they are divorced. I suspect that their post-marriage relationship has had some challenges, but they have created a rapport that is low on tension and hostility.

The wedding was beautiful. I loved catching up with people I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

As the evening progressed, tables were moved to create a dance floor. It was wonderful to see guests of all ages enjoying this activity together.

At one-point, the father of the bride and his new partner danced a jive. As you might imagine, people stopped dancing to watch. Many women, including myself, looked on enviously. There is a shortage of men who know how to lead their partner in structured dance steps.

I noticed his ex watching the dancing spectacle and I suspect she was wishing he had learned to dance while he was married to her. She may well have seen the man she wanted all those years ago, finally manifested when he wasn’t hers any more.

Sadly, it was the end of their relationship that caused him to consciously make changes in his life. If they had stayed together, it is less likely that would have happened. It can take a major incident to inspire you to change if you aren’t consciously aware of the effect it has on your life.

The father of the bride learned to dance because his marital status changed, not because he was driven to be a dancer. He wasn’t consciously wanting to learn to jive, but he went out with a woman who had a dance studio, so learning to dance made sense.

Too often couples get comfortable with their relationships and assume that once they find a way to peacefully live together, the work is done. That is far from the truth. Every day holds the possibility for unexpected occurrences that cause you, your partner, and your relationship to change.

Marriages that go the distance tend to be the ones that expect change and aren’t scared of it when it arrives. They know they can find a way to deal with whatever life throws at them.

The first time I saw my father-in-law hold my mother-in-law’s hand was when she had cancer. It seemed so sad that it took her illness to spur him into publicly displaying his affection for her.

I doubt my father-in-law had thought much about hand holding, he simply followed the example his parents had set for him. It wasn’t until he was faced with the fragility of life that physical contact became important.

I used to sigh when I saw him display affection for his subsequent partner. Beryl would have loved him to be more like that, but he changed because of her illness and death. If she had lived to a ripe old age, it is likely he would never have held her hand.

No one stays the same throughout their lives. Everyone changes, but you can choose how you approach and react to it.

You can welcome it into your life as an opportunity to grow, or you can try to avoid it until circumstances thrust it upon you.

Having it spring out at you when you least expect it can take its toll and gives you very little opportunity to prepare yourself or take any level of control over the situation.

I recommend that you familiarize yourself with change. Step out of your comfort zone every day, until the unexpected feels familiar. Knowing that you can deal with whatever new situation comes your way is empowering.

Perhaps a marriage could have been saved if the participants had approached change as something good and practised stepping out of their comfort zones together. Like the old saying tells us, sometimes a change is as good as a rest.

Maybe my in-laws would have enjoyed more physical contact if they hadn’t settled for the way it had always been rather than rocking the boat. Who’s to say?

I recommend that you examine your attitude toward change. It is going to happen, so decide whether you want to turn away from it for as long as possible or accept and embrace it.

If you choose the latter, start by seeking out new experiences and opportunities.

Rather than waiting for the inevitable appearance of change to materialize in your life and upset your marital balance, welcome it in on a regular basis. Look at it as an opportunity to strengthen your bond and keep life interesting.

More The Happiness Connection articles

About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories