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Jennifer Good
Has Your Partner Changed?

It's an unfortunate event when we realize our partner may not be the same person they used to be. For whatever reason, something has caused them to look at life or your relationship differently. Is it a reason to look at ending the relationship? Or is the change something you should ignore and hope goes away? The answer really lies somewhere in between.

There are many factors that can make a person seem different than who they were. Just the process of aging can cause major shifts in attitude and viewpoints. Some people believe that once they get married or have a baby they should act in a certain way. Stress, employment changes or health problems can also cause temporary attitude adjustments.

So how do you begin to broach this subject with your partner?

First, you need to determine the cause.

Is It You or Them?

When you feel your partner has changed in some significant way, the first thing you need to do is make sure the change is actually from them. Don't make the common mistake of thinking your partner is being different when in actuality you are the one who's made the change.

Has There Really Been a Change?

Then make sure the change you perceive is actually accurate. Are you sure they weren't always that way, but now the behavior just rubs you the wrong way? Or, is their lack of attention now something you can't deal with? If you went into a relationship knowing a person was a certain way, but you internally expected that to change, you can't really expect your partner to understand why you're upset.

How's Your Life?

Life has a way of throwing things at us that we aren't always prepared for. You might have physically prepared for some event, but emotions are a little trickier to anticipate. Also, some events could trigger past emotions that were thought to be long gone. If either of you are going through a rough patch or an emotional time, give your partner a little adjustment space. In addition, do things to keep you both physically and mentally attached, such as date nights or unexpected romantic encounters.

Next, you need to discuss the problem.

This step can feel difficult for some people because by the time they realize they need to address the issue, there can be a lot of resentment or pent up emotion involved. In order to get through this, you'll need to find a way to remain objective and calm when communicating with your partner. If the change stemmed from a specific event, it would be a good starting point to deal with the unresolved issues that must still exist. If the cause was something less obvious, it probably developed as a habit.

A habit, thankfully, can be broken with a little conscience effort. When you are both able to have an uninterrupted open and frank discussion about the matter, let your partner know the about the changes you've noticed and how they are making you feel. Let them have their equal time to speak about the issue as well. It's quite possible they made their change based on a change they perceived from you. Make it clear your intention is to find an agreeable resolution not to place blame.

When you are both in agreement that a problem exists, each of you should write down or voice your ideas for solving the issue. If for example the issue is you believe you should be more intimate, maybe an agreement to set aside one night a week as "your" intimate time would be a workable solution. Take turns planning the night. If one partner has ceased being romantic, you can make an agreement to do five random "little" things each week for each other. At the end of the week, see if you can guess what each thing was.

If the changes in your partner are something dramatic such as substance abuse, gambling or other negative behaviors, schedule some time to go talk to a counselor.

Remember, everyone changes, in order to keep the relationship going, you just have to make sure you're changing in the same direction.

Jennifer Good

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