Healthy people grow and change over time. As they learn new things, work toward improving themselves, and make decisions to better their lives, what they need from their spouse will inevitably change. Although it is normal for this process to happen, many people fear that the changes mean their spouse is no longer the same person or they wonder if they have outgrown their spouse. It’s important to recognize that change can be a good thing.
Marriage requires a delicate balance between lots of factors. This balance may change over time. There may be times a person needs more of one thing from their spouse and less of something else. Learning how to recognize these normal changes can help you respond appropriately.
Support Versus Independence
People’s needs can change in lots of ways. One way is that a person who has been fairly independent in the past, may need more support. For example, a husband who finds himself unemployed, may need more emotional support from his wife as he looks for a new job.
On the other hand, sometimes people may grow more independent over time and may need their spouse to allow them more freedom. For example, a stay at home mother re-entering the workforce, may not depend on her husband for as much emotional support as she spends more time with friends and co-workers.
It’s important to adjust to your changing needs. When your spouse needs less from the marriage, try to be supportive. Also, try to respond appropriately when your spouse seems to need more. Also, make sure to recognize your changing needs and don’t be afraid to tell your spouse what you need from the marriage right now.
Risk Versus Security
There may be times when you need more security and other times where you are willing to take a risk. For example, a wife may request her husband get more life insurance when they have young children. However, she may be willing to put more of their money in the stock market when the kids are older.
Sometimes people value their peace of mind over money. For example, a husband may be willing to pay extra money to get full coverage auto insurance. Perhaps his car isn’t worth much but the peace of mind of knowing he won’t have to scramble to find money if he gets into an accident may be well worth it to him.
If your spouse doesn’t want to take a risk, whether it’s to start a new business, take on a new job, or move somewhere else, don’t interpret this to mean that your spouse is boring. Recognize that there may be times your spouse just values security more than the risk and try to be supportive.
Also, recognize that there may be times your spouse wants to take a leap into something you consider risky. Talk about your concerns and be supportive when possible. Recognize how important taking risks may be to your spouse at times.
Giving Versus Getting
There are going to be times in anyone’s life where they are able to give more than others. It’s important to recognize this as a natural part of marriage. If your spouse seems less giving than usual, try not to label your spouse as “selfish.” Instead, recognize that there might be something going on right now that means your spouse needs more than he is able to give.
A husband may be very motivated to take care of household responsibilities for many years. Then, suddenly, he seems to lose interest in doing home improvement projects or even mowing the lawn. It may be due to stress at work, trouble sleeping, or he may be emotionally drained from the death of his mother that occurred years ago but is just catching up with him.
People may vary in how much they can give to the marriage in many ways. This may include emotional support, financial support, help with taking care of the children, or help with household tasks. If your spouse seems less able to give lately, make sure to communicate about your observations without blaming or judging. Don’t focus on what your spouse isn’t doing, but instead focus on what you can do. Be willing to step up your game to do as much as you can to fill in those gaps. Working together as a team can help you to grow closer together as a couple.
Companionship Versus Physical Affection
Although it is important to have both companionship and physical affection in the marriage, the need for one or the other more can wax and wane throughout a marriage. There may be times that you want your spouse to be more of a friend than a lover and that’s okay. It’s also important to recognize that it is normal for your spouse’s sexual desires to change as well.
Outside influences such as stress, hormones, physical health, and children can all impact libido. As you grow and change, there may be times when you are able to be more physically intimate and times when you just aren’t feeling it. The key is to communicate. Don’t pretend that changes aren’t happening. Instead, talk about your observations. If you don’t communicate, a lot of negative feelings, such as anger, resentment, and insecurity can build.