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I read an interesting article this week called What Happens When You Decide to Change by James Altucher.
It reminded me why it can be so hard to make good changes - especially in marriage.
The truth is, most people want marriage to be comfortable.
Comfortable is easy. Comfortable is safe. Comfortable is predictable and doesn’t force us to confront scary things.
When you change as a partner - when you truly commit to becoming a better version of yourself, and then follow through by taking action - things stop being so comfortable.
You might be excited about this new discomfort. It’s the thrill of anticipation that comes before growth. It’s that feeling you get the moment before you walk into that classroom for the first time, step on stage to give the big presentation, or ask for a raise.
But your partner... well, they may not be so excited about your change. As a matter of fact, they might resent you for making something that once felt comfortable into something uncomfortable. They might get angry with you, or hate your new ideas or opinions.
I know someone who got really committed to getting back into shape. He changed his diet and started working out. He found an awesome community at a gym he loved.
He was leveling up his life, losing weight, gaining confidence. At home he was more attentive husband and father, and at work he had more confidence and energy.
His wife hated it.
She wasn’t ready to change. She resented him and assumed he was judging her for not changing like he was. She insinuated that he was going to leave her for “one of those fit girls at the gym.”
He loves her. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to revert back to his old, unhealthy habits just to make her comfortable again.
Sometimes doing something that’s good for you makes things worse before they get better.
Here's another example...
A woman I know decided she was going to change the way she approached conflict in her marriage.
She and her husband had a history of really going at it when they had disagreements. They’d raise their voices… like, a lot. Sometimes they’d even call each other names, swear, or storm out of the room on each other.
After years of doing this, it dawned on her, “This isn’t working. I need to be better.”
The next time they got into a heated argument, she took a deep breath to calm her nerves and said, “I love you too much to fight with you like this. I’m going to take a break. Let’s try talking about this when we’ve calmed down.”
It freaked her husband out.
He didn’t like it.
What was wrong with his wife? Why wasn’t she engaging with him? What was going on?
He got louder, and angrier to try to reel her back into the fight.
She didn’t bite.
It took several weeks before he realized the old way of arguing wasn’t working anymore. If he was going to stay married to his beloved, he had to soften himself and do the challenging work of learning to “communicate his emotions” better.
He wasn't sure he wanted to do that. Emotions scared him.
Being forced out of your comfort zone and into change and growth by the person you love and trust the most can be hard. It can put your relationship to the test.
Some people don’t want to test their relationship.
They’re scared the marriage isn’t up for the challenge. A test like this might end it.
Comfortable just feels safer...
People who like feeling comfortable hate people who challenge themselves.
One of the hardest things about growing as a couple is that you’ll have to leave people behind. Friends and family members you’ve had your whole life.
One day you’ll be hanging out with your friends as they complain about their marriages. You confess that you love being married. They’ll make fun of you, tell you you’re lying, or secretly become very jealous and resentful of you.
Or, you’ll hear your friends have a fight and it will make you uncomfortable. Partly because “how could someone I know so well talk to their partner like that?” And partly because “Wow… I can’t believe I used to be like that.”
You don’t really fit in like you used to... and you don’t want this old, bad behavior to rub off. So you grow apart.
Your friends might say, “You’ve changed.” Or, “You think you’re too good for us?”
They want to keep you in their lives… but they want to keep the old you. Not the now you.
It’s hard to let the people you love go.
It’s hard to let the old you go.
But when you do let go...
When you let go of the things that were holding you back, keeping you stuck, or making you unhappy – when you burn off your “dead wood” – you make room for new life.
People who choose to change, and live a life of discomfort and growth are rare. Because the life of someone committed to growth is hard. And sometimes it hurts.
That’s why so many marriages are average. Most human beings simply prefer comfort over pain.
By embracing comfort you might be avoiding pain, but you’re also avoiding satisfaction, fulfillment, achievement, elation, joy, happiness, peace, hope, inspiration and so much more.
Stepping outside your comfort zone, aspiring for something more and failing along the way, striving for an ideal, losing yourself in the struggle… these experiences are what make life worth living.
They are what the good memories are made of.
They are what great relationships are made of.
Change is hard. But it’s worth it.
If you’re ready to experience some change, take the Legendary Love Challenge. If you do the work - about 5-7 minutes every day - for a week, it’s completely free. You can sign up if you scroll down just a little bit… but first here’s a testimonial I got yesterday from someone who just completed the challenge:
P.S. What scares you about taking action? What are you afraid of losing? Leave your thoughts in the comments.