I really hope that no one ever judges me based on how I was in 7th grade – chubby cheeks, bad perm, a chronic case of math ineptitude and an embarrassing obsession with Bon Jovi. Of course, some of my core traits are largely unchanged but, the 7th grade me was a beta version on a good day and a mere prototype on the bad.
For people that have known me since 7th grade, our relationships have changed, altered by time and mutual growth. The core bond is still there, but some of the details have been altered based upon individual refinements.
I wrote a piece recently on the need for adaptation to the dating world for the newly single. That’s not the only place that adaptation is required. In fact, for anyone or anything to survive a changing environment, adaptation is a necessity.
And that includes marriage.
We often here about the key traits of successful unions: communication, respect, honesty. Those are all true. Yet I add another to the list.
Marriage exist in a larger world that provides ever changing challenges for the union. The marriage that works for young and childless twenty-somethings who live in town won’t work ten years later in a suburban neighborhood with two kids. And the marriage that works while raising kids won’t work once they are gone. The marriage that evolved for one partner to work will have to adapt when both are employed. The marriage that negotiated a balance between a timid partner and a stronger one must be revamped when confidence is found.
If a marriage is to survive, it has to adapt to its environment.
Marriages are often pictured as inflexible strongholds. The problem with that is image is that it is identical to that of a prison. A marriage that is strong but unbending does not allow for change within itself or its partners. When it no longer matches the needs of the environment, it becomes a jail.
And no one wants to be locked down.
Instead of the ball and chain image, think of bungie cords – strong enough to support a life hurling from the skies yet flexible enough to wrap around your wrist.
Strong yet flexible.
We resist this. We easily relax into the status quo. We fear change. We want to think that the the it is is the way it will always be. It’s scary to realize that your partner will change. It’s scary to contemplate how environmental pressures may challenge your marriage. But a head in the sand won’t make change go away. It just means you can’t respond.
Sometimes what a marriage needs is not more time in the weight room building up its strength but some time on the yoga mat, stretching and releasing.
Longevity is found with flexibility and and adaptation. If it’s going to last, it has to change.
And that includes my bad perm.
This post was inspired by a piece by Vicki Larson over at OMG Chronicles about acting divorced while you’re married. Check it out!