The unspoken contract in a long term relationship: How to stay connected when growing up
The thing is about life and growing up, is the inevitable stretch and strain that comes with working through those ‘battle scars’. We are constantly evolving, and constantly growing, albeit in small, sometimes imperceptible increments. Humans are energised by learning and contributing their knowledge and skills, and as such it is inevitable that sometimes we grow apart from one another.
Sometimes this happens in friendship circles, or acquaintance circles, and that’s ok, it’s normal. It can be trickier for us to manage when we are in a stable long term relationship, like a marriage, and our ultimate goal is to stay together.
In a symbiotic relationship, one element affects the other, and so it is with relationships. If you substitute ‘learning’ for element, the translation is ‘when one person changes, the other must adjust as well’. You can’t change one part of a relationship, however minutely, and not impact on other elements. It’s the ripple effect. The bigger the learning the bigger the wave.
The ‘growing together’ contract is an often unspoken, unwritten contract between two people. Sometimes we can find it uncomfortable to keep growing. So we may avoid it by not taking personal responsibility. This ensures that we and our relationship stays the same. Other times we complete the growth or change and the ripple affects are either tolerated in our relationship, or they aren’t. Ultimately, the healthiest version of this is to be able to tolerate the ripples of change and grow together. Like an upwards constructive spiral of creating and growing and reinvestment back into each other.
So how can we remain connected throughout life whilst growing and learning?
It’s a daily investment of attention and energy, but not a huge one. You could consider it maintainance. Without a daily investment in taking care of ourselves, and our significant others, the end result can be a significant cost or price to pay.
Here’s a few ideas about how to invest in your relationship to make sure you remain attuned to each other whilst growing and changing individually and together:
- Schedule regular check ins – no this isn’t sexy in an of itself, but it does signify the priority you hold the relationship in. So high, that you make time to be together.
- Connect in the small moments – ‘have you got time for a quick hug’ is a great way to reconnect when there is an opportunity as you high five each other in the hallway. The very act of a 15 second hug can provide an uplift in energy and feelings of positivity that last the whole day. In this moment you become attuned to each other and might notice something that you otherwise wouldn’t have.
- Play by your own rules – as a couple, set the rules of engagement to work through conflict and stick to them. It is incredibly important to listen to each other to understand (rather that prepare your argument back) and it’s equally important to allow space for emotions to exist for each person and not dismiss them. Staying constructive rather that destructive.
By working together to stay in tune with each other, it allows growth and change to be a part of the relationship that you are both connected to. It means that when things go wrong, which they invariably do, you have a well nourished relationship to support the transitions, learnings or impacts.
How do you invest in your relationship?
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