Article by Irving Schattner
Post design and edit by Christy Zigweid
Photo by Pexels via Pixabay made using @WordSwagApp
When a person in a relationship recovers from addictions (alcohol or drugs, food, gambling, shopping), anxiety and/or depression, it could be said that the person is following a new path. This path may feel scary at times, but when such a person has committed to the change process, their partner or significant other may not fully be aware of how their loved one has changed and how it may impact their relationship.
In some instances, one's partner or significant other may welcome these changes as a healthy outcome of couples therapy. They may feel liberated from their partner’s constant need for support, validation and neediness, and can now focus on establishing a more balanced, healthy, and mutually beneficial relationship.
In other instances, one’s partner or significant other may find himself or herself resentful and pushing back against the tide of what they see as a person they no longer know or understand. This occurs most particularly when their role as protector, defender, or enabler becomes undermined by this change in their partner. As one partner changes through the therapeutic process, the balance of power can shift one of two ways: Equality, equilibrium, mutual recognition, understanding, and respect come to define this modified relationship. And one partner accommodates to this new arrangement while the other partner finds it difficult or is unwilling to make a change that recognizes the needs of the other.
Maintaining a Healthy Relationship
Generally speaking, it is healthy and necessary for people to adapt to changing circumstances and life events. So, too, it is expected that relationships will change over time. But sometimes partner’s needs change and are not complimentary. Partners may find themselves on different paths or life journeys.
So, what can you do when you find that your needs, wants, desires, dreams, or life direction have changed from that of your partner’s? The first thing you might want to consider is acknowledging these changes. Failure to be open and honest with your partner may only lead to a breakdown of the relationship. Perhaps you truly want out of the relationship and are fearful of confronting this fact. If this is the case, your complacency and lack of openness will passively move you towards what you truly want – dissolution of your relationship.
On the other hand, if you want your partner to share the new you and your new journey, it is paramount that you share your thoughts and feelings with your partner. To do otherwise, is sabotage of your relationship. It is natural to want to grow and change, and if you want your relationship to survive, even thrive, it is mandatory that you engage your partner in healthy dialogue that lets them know what’s going on inside of you, the personal changes you are making, and how that may impact or shift the dynamics or nature of your relationship. In turn, you should allow your spouse the space, time, and freedom to fully express their thoughts, feelings and needs relevant to the changes taking place.
It is worth noting that just because you may not be one-hundred-percent on the same page, does not mean your relationship is doomed. If you feel like you are at an impasse, or simply don’t know where to begin this process of reconciliation, couples therapy can be of great help in defining your respective wants, needs and desires, and examining whether they can be accommodated in your relationship or if it’s time to move on.
About the Author - Irving Schattner, LCSWAbout the Author - Irving Schattner, LCSWAbout the Author - Irving Schattner, LCSW
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