Books, movies, TV all like the dramatic gesture and the emotional tension of long-term issues exploding.  It draws in the audience and makes them want to find out what happens next, but it also habituates us to see things in dramatic terms.  When something has been going on for a long time we should feel that there will be a point where we can’t suffer through it one more moment and we’ll have a dramatic break or we’ll need to have a confrontation with the other person and everything will change dramatically.  We’re told that putting up with something long-term is quiet consent and that it’s hard to change things that have been left unchecked and we should gear up for battle and possible be prepared to walk away if we need things to change.

Well, that’s one scenario, but certainly not the only one.  Usually it’s the indicator of an unhealthy relationship where the issue at hand is reflective of deeper underlying issues etc.  Great.  But what about relationships that are healthy and yet need change?  Just like people, relationships grow and change and become.  Relationships can include the birth of babies, the first day of school, the changing of careers, moving states, moving cultures, children dating, children leaving, businesses thriving and so much more.  Each new event not only affects the individuals involved, but also the relationship.  We’re used to having the decisions on whether or not to change be out of our hands because “life happens.” But we’re on shakier ground when we are making those changes without some external necessity, when we are choosing to make them and when this requires the relationship to adjust.

Say it’s time for one partner to get back into the workforce or one of them to step out of it, it’s time for one of them to start working on that dream that’s been on hold for 5 years, that “we’ll do it someday” is fast approaching, then behaviors, agreements, and expectations need to adjust.  This doesn’t need to happen through an explosion or a “come to Jesus” meeting, but can be one partner starting to make the necessary changes and letting the other know about it after they’ve begun.  Or a note saying here’s the plans for how we’re going to accomplish that and we should start now.  As I heard many times as a manager of a corporation, sometimes asking for forgiveness rather than permission is the best course of action.  It can keep things from becoming a drama and allow a change in course to actually happen rather die aborning in discussion.  Just because a situation has gone on for a long time doesn’t mean it’s physics.  It’s a habit and habits can be broken.  Relationships change all the time and that’s a healthy thing.  So do the healthy thing and start moving ahead on what towards the next goal.