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He/She Isn't the Person That I Settled Down With
When you sign up for a relationship do you also sign up for the changes that are destined to happen over time? Chatting to an acquaintance, Hannah, 44, she expressed frustration with her husband of seven years, Jeff. The source of her hair pulling? The fact he’d piled on the pounds in recent years and didn't seem bothered.
Hannah had kept herself fairly trim and found Jeff's weight gain a turnoff. But not just in the bedroom. To her it was a signal that he simply gave up caring generally about their relationship. Rightly or wrongly this belief had tarnished her feelings for her essentially pleasant husband.
Most of us realise that five, 10 or 20 years down the line we may not look the same: spreading a bit (or a lot!), becoming grey around the hairline, and generally more rumpled than in the first flush of love. For most couples this isn’t a problem - and it’s one sign of a deepening love that they’re oblivious to or can joke about such natural changes. But for others they like certain standards, if you will, to be maintained and are unhappy with their partners when standards are relaxed.
As Hannah's experience shows it's not just the men who we traditionally think that rather old-fashioned saying “they’ve let themselves go" applies. I find regardless of gender that when a person feels their partner doesn't care about themselves enough that they equally don't care about "me" either.
But is it a crime if you expect your partner to make an effort over time? If you feel about your partner as Hannah feels, is that unreasonable? I believe it comes down to an implicit agreement that couples have about all sorts of things. They may not vocalise these things but they still count.
What Hannah needed to do was to evaluate the implicit agreement she thought she had with Jeff. Had he ever felt this way? If so, why had he given up on this? If not, why had she made these assumptions?
Frank soul-searching can sometimes lead to better understanding of the expectations propping up your relationship generally. And specifically, they can lead to more tender feelings toward the partner that’s changed. When your time comes for needing some tenderness then you'll be much more likely to get it.
A similar article was published in The Times
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