Want to Stay Married? Embrace Change


This morning I was rereading a wonderful New York Times piece from April called, "To Stay Married, Embrace Change." As a Buddhist, It's a particularly resonate read for me. It reminds me of something Roshi Shunryu Suzuki said when asked to reduce Buddhism down to one phrase, 

"Everything Changes."

As the article points out, to have a successful marriage, we need to realize that we will change but so will our partner. 

“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished,” the Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert said in a 2014 TED talk called “The Psychology of Your Future Self.” He described research that he and his colleagues had done in 2013: Study subjects (ranging from 18 to 68 years old) reported changing much more over a decade than they expected to.

I think people implicitly know this already because they see it modeled in the relationships they've grown up around, whether it's their parents, family members or married couples on television. But to live it is another story. And many marriages end or fail because as the saying goes, "we grew apart." 

The article argues, however, that it is possible to grow together, and that what often fuels resentment is nostalgia for a past that doesn't exist anymore. And to keep a marriage going, perhaps communicating how one feels and accepting what has happened to it is the way to go. Of course, this isn't always possible. 

As the author says in the article, "Several long-married people I know have said this exact line: 'I’ve had at least three marriages. They’ve just all been with the same person.'" That seems like a lovely idea to me. Maybe, just maybe it's possible to live.