Growth is something we all experience as we go through the seasons of our lives. It’s not unusual to hear married couples talk about how they have changed and evolved as individuals over the years. Allowing ourselves to grow and change as people, in turn, can enrich our marriages.
Healthy growth generally involves becoming more mature adults with greater wisdom and life experience. Our growth helps us to step confidently into each phase of life, with valuable lessons we’ve learned in the past. Growing throughout our lives also gives us the chance to impart those lessons to younger generations, including our own children (and maybe their kids, too).
Of course, it’s also common to hear married couples claim that they’ve grown apart over the years. So when it comes to growing together in our marriages, growth is something that we can’t afford to ignore or fail to communicate about. Because we don’t want to grow apart and put our marriages in jeopardy, we must absolutely do whatever it takes to learn how to grow and change together.
Want to know what that might look like? Read on.
If you’re communicating clearly and often about your inner workings–not just work, the day’s chores, or your kids’ activities–the two of you will feel more in the loop with one another. Personal growth feels like a very solitary endeavor at first glance, but truly, spouses should share their growth journeys to make sure they’re able to be empathic and understanding of one another.
Check in with one another. Ask questions. Have deep, meaningful conversations about how your worldviews or mindsets have shifted over the years, and how they may still be shifting. Speak to one another kindly, but share with honesty and listen with curiosity.
Share New Recreational Activities
As your interests shift, find new activities you can share that align with these interests. Everyone goes through different times when their interests change. Rather than splitting off to do your own thing when it’s time for a recreational activity, consider whether you might like to experience a new sport or activity together.
New activities can also facilitate personal growth, so take that into account in addition to shifting interests. Take time to talk about what you’d like to do, whether that’s taking a new workout class, starting a couples’ game night, going kayaking or hiking, or any number of other options that are out there. Focus on being creative and open–and of course, on having a good time together.
Show Grace and Gratitude
At times, personal growth can be painful. It can hurt to be in the process of growth, but it can also hurt to look back on past versions of yourselves. Hindsight is always 20/20, and in retrospect, looking back at the way we were in the past can be an unsettling experience, particularly if we struggled with character flaws or made life difficult for our spouse.
During times of reflection, focus on grace and gratitude. Have grace for yourselves and one another, looking at your past mistakes with self-forgiveness. And, hone in on gratitude, allowing yourselves to feel thankful for the life you have together, the lessons you’ve learned along the way, and the opportunities to keep learning in the future.
Avoid Drifting Apart
If you want to grow together in your marriage, then you’ll want to deliberately focus on not drifting apart. Communicating openly and honestly, sharing activities, and focusing on gratitude and grace will take you far, helping you to stay bonded with one another. Life will be hectic and challenging at times, but if you stick together, you can grow together.
Our book, Strengthen Your Marriage, is a guide to helping married couples enrich their relationships, grow closer, and stay connected over the years. It pairs with our SYMBIS+ Assessment, which is an excellent way for married couples to get to know one another better, on multiple levels. Pick up your copy here.
Have you and your spouse grown together throughout your relationship? Got tips on how to stay connected? Share them in the comments.