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Learning to Adapt When Your Partner Wants to Make Changes

Finding a life partner makes life more joyful. However, challenges can arise when your loved one wants to make major changes in their life. If your relationship is going through a time of transition, here are some helpful steps to take within yourself and with your partner.

Steps to Take Within Yourself:

1. Recognize that change is inevitable. Every relationship goes through stages. Many families are searching for ways to adjust to the current economic downturn. Even in prosperous times, couples frequently face issues like caring for aging parents or changing their minds about having children.

2. Focus on the benefits. Naturally, when things turn out differently than you expected, you'll probably feel some apprehension. Remember that change can also be an opportunity to make improvements. You may need to modify your budget if your partner pursues a less lucrative career, but this could also give you more time to spend together.

3. Face your fears. Conquer your fears more easily by first acknowledging them. Prepare for stressful times by developing your own coping techniques like regular exercise or meditation.

4. Take responsibility for your own actions. You're in control of your own responses. Even disturbing events like job loss or declining health can be handled more effectively if you try to think positive and plan strategically.

5. Be open to learning more about yourself. Intense emotions help us get in touch with unresolved issues in our past so we can heal more fully. As just one example, there could be a link between childhood sibling rivalry and feeling jealous of your partner's new dog.

6. Separate out your personal feelings. Most of us naturally look at how our partner's actions affect us. To fully understand the situation, also be sure to take into account their needs and motivations.

7. Know your limits. You may need to reevaluate your relationship or seek professional advice if there's a risk to the welfare and safety of you or your partner. Community hotlines can help you find resources for dealing with issues like clinical depression or domestic violence.

Steps to Take With Your Partner

1. Communicate with respect and openness. Sound communication keeps a relationship healthy. Tackle emerging issues promptly before resentments build up. Practice attentive and reflective listening.

2. Seek win-win solutions. There doesn't always have to be a winner and a loser; you and your partner are on the same team and the problem is one you are facing together. Search for solutions that will make you both happy.

3. Meet each other halfway. Be willing to compromise. Moving your partner's parents into your house may be beyond your comfort level, but you can help them find a good senior living community nearby.

4. Offer a trial period. It's normal to have reservations about making a big change. Explore smaller steps that can let you "try on" aspects of a larger change and develop confidence. If your partner suggests moving across the country, perhaps you could try taking a long vacation to check out possible new locations first hand.

5. Take turns. Make sure there is balance in chores and responsibilities, and always be open to reassess and redistribute responsibilities. If one partner is growing tired of always being in charge of dinner, maybe switch it up and each partner take a few nights a week to handle all the prep and cooking.

6. Negotiate independent time. Relationships grow stronger when each person matures as an individual. Encourage your partner to devote time to a new interest that fees their soul, especially if you're absorbed in other activities.

7. Call in a third party. An impartial third party or professional counselor can sometimes provide the objectivity you need to navigate life changes. Find a therapist you both feel comfortable with or talk things over with family or friends.

Even positive changes can feel stressful when you find your familiar routines disrupted. Think deeply and communicate openly with your partner so you can move together in a fresh direction. By choosing to embrace changes, you may wind up enriching your relationship and your shared future.

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