Ends – Everything Changes
Transitions can be messy and scary things
Transitions that disrupt our physical environment can be a pain. But in examples like these, we usually have a sense of what the end state will be: spring will arrive in full force, days will be warm enough to go without a jacket, and winter will be but a memory. Our office will eventually be finished, we’ll settle into our new space, and enjoy our exciting, collaborative environment.
But what about transitions that are more ambiguous, such as those in our life and relationships? There are fewer cues to signal a transition is starting or ending. We often don’t know how things will look on the other side of it; we’re jumping without knowing where or how we’ll land, or if we’ll land at all. And that makes these types of transitions not only messy, but also kind of hard and scary.
Think about the transitions you’ve been through with your partner. Dating to engagement to marriage. Having children, changing jobs, moving to a new city, sending the kids off to college, retiring. These are all big changes to navigate as an individual; throw in the nuanced dynamics of your couple relationship, and you’ve got a lot of moving parts to recalibrate, and manage. And perhaps that is the most important part: staying connected to each other throughout the uncertainty, so that the experience strengthens you as a unit.
Whether you and your partner handle change and ambiguity like pros or find it challenging, it is of the utmost importance to keep communication lines open. Here are some tips and topics to talk through before, during, and after a life or relationship transition:
Before: You can’t always prepare for transitions, but in the event you can, take the opportunity to get on the same page beforehand.
During: Check in with each other, often. Acknowledge your feelings. Lean on each other, andremember that you’re on the same team.
After: It might be difficult to tell whether a transition is over; sometimes there is no tangible end. But eventually you may find yourselves at a point where things start to feel a little less chaotic and a little more “routine.” This is a good time to take stock of where you’ve landed.
Life and relationship transitions are hard because of the uncertainty and ambiguity of saying goodbye to the familiar and replacing it with the unknown. As a couple, you’ll go through many transitions—big, small, often messy, and sometimes scary. By making communication and connection a priority throughout, you create a foundation to come out stronger on the other side.