Whether you are preparing to make an international move or just one down the street, changing jobs or entering retirement, adding or losing a family member, or adjusting to a new diagnosis, transitions can have a way of making us feel off balance. You might wonder, “Why do I feel so tired and impatient?” or, “Why is it so hard to make decisions or focus on that growing to-do list?” You may feel sad, restless, excited, uncertain, hopeful, confused, disoriented, or just plain in denial. No matter how you are coping or not coping, if you are about to transition, are in the middle of a life transition, or just made one, your relationship with your partner probably feels a little different right now.
Transition adds stress to our relationships because we usually lose our normal routines. That shared cup of coffee in the morning, weekly date night, or pillow talk have turned into quick phone calls about picking up packing tape. Transitions can bring out old insecurities—“It’s so hard for me to make new friends,” “What if my new boss thinks I’m incompetent?” or, “My spouse has never trusted me to take care of these types of things.” Sometimes in transition, old habits can pop up that you thought you were long since done with—“One more drink/pint of ice cream/porn video is OK. Just to take the edge off and get me through this month.”
Even in the best-case scenario, when the change is good and you are mostly coping well, you and your spouse might have different expectations of what your new life will be like. You are likely to move through grief and other emotions at a different pace from your partner, so don’t be surprised if you take turns being the one having the break down and the one offering the tissues.
The good news is, with a little thought, effort, communication, and time together, your transition is likely to bring you even closer as a couple. It’s an exciting opportunity to create a shared memory and even to start some new habits and traditions.