Getting married is committing to constant growth. However, this progression can often be difficult for one or both people involved.
One of my newly married friends recently came to me for advice concerning this problem. She married early, practically going from her parents’ house directly to the altar. Her husband is an established, successful businessman and good husband. She, on the other hand, now finds herself as a busy wife trying to juggle managing a house and, a recent graduate, looking for job opportunities. Sometimes she feels paralyzed by all of the stress. She hates change. Her husband loves her deeply but does not know how to help her grow the way she needs to. She doesn’t want to tell her parents, because she feels that doing so would be admitting failure.
This is the advice I had for this friend and her husband, and what I would say to any other couple, newly married or not, that finds themselves in a similar situation.
1. Be patient and give him or her time to change
Your partner does not need any extra stress added to his or her plate because of you. Help your spouse know that you are there and willing to help him or her through this difficult struggle. You need to understand that changes do not happen overnight. However, the support and understanding of a spouse is essential if you wish for your companion to grow. It is important that you don’t rush progress too quickly. Big changes happen gradually. You need to give him or her a chance, and the appropriate time to make necessary changes.
2. Don’t take it out on the children
If there are children in the relationship, do not involve them. They are not the problem. They are a blessing. Remember that your children are also suffering from the situation. The fears of their parents are probably causing them distress as well.
3. Get rid of the excuses
There is a reason your spouse hasn’t grown. Do not constantly accept excuses such as, “Today I woke up with a headache,” or “I got some really bad news today,” etc. as reasons to get out of fulfilling responsibilities. This will just keep things the way they are. He or she must learn to not place blame on something else just because he or she is uncomfortable doing something. Be gentle with your spouse and help him or her feel comfortable coming to you and admitting when he or she is having a problem.
4. Help him or her leave the comfort zone
Your spouse’s comfort zone may be found in his or her parents’ home, your home, his or her workplace, your city, a favorite place to shop, a habit that has been in place for years, etc. Help him or her experience new things even if it causes a little anxiety. And be there for support. Practicing leaving his or her comfort zone will make it a lot easier for him or her to accept change.
Finally, remember that marriage is a bond between two people. Each of you brought different baggage to the relationship. You have different backgrounds, different ways of thinking, understandings of reality, views on religion, work ethics, etc. Each of you are used to different rhythms. Don’t forget that you are together to grow together. Don’t give up on your marriage just because it is hard. Help lift each other, and if your spouse is having a hard time growing, stay by his or her side and guide him or her through it. Don’t make your Peter Pan suffer alone.
This article is a translation and adaption of the original article, “Casada com o Peter Pan: 5 meios de lidar com um cônjuge que não quer crescer.”