01/12/2015 04:19 pm ET Updated Mar 14, 2015

You've Grown as a Person, He Hasn't: What Happens to the Relationship?

Building a relationship with someone you love takes time and energy but most of us will agree that it is worth the investment. Once you have the basics down pat, life should be comfortable. Occasional arguments and disagreements notwithstanding, you now have the opportunity to grow both as a person and as a couple. You are eager to share new interests, and new adventures. Your 'couple potential' is high! As the years go by, you let go of what doesn't work and keep what does besides making room for newer workable aspects to your life together.

But what happens when you continue to grow as an individual while he is content to remain the same as when the relationship first began?

You may have added new interests to your life. Possibly you've made a career change and have new ideas about where you'd like to live; a whole new package of likes, wants, and goals. He, on the other hand, has remained pretty much as he was when you first met. He is contented with the status quo. Adverse to trying new things, he has no new ambitions or goals, and feels that there's something wrong with you because you have changed.

Your future as a couple is in serious danger since growing and expanding your horizons together has stopped. But...

Although you have reevaluated your opinions and tastes and he has not, you still love him and want to make a go of it. Can you 'get it back,' that cozy intimate feeling of being a couple with potential? Never say never, but be practical in your outlook on how to get him to change.

Some adults are content to remain in the comfort zone they have created for themselves. They may be afraid to make any changes to what they consider an easy existence. This might be the case with your partner. Getting him to change is not going to be easy but it can be done.

Seriously discuss with him how you would like your life together to be. Tell him that you don't want the relationship to stagnate. Some things to try are:

• Introduce something new into the relationship. This can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or finding a new area to explore in your city or town. Same old, same old loses its luster after awhile. Do something different.
• Ask his opinion on a political issue about which you feel passionate; get a debate going on a current topic in the news.
• Persuade him to talk about any goals he may have had that he 'put on hold' before the relationship. Offer to support him in achieving them.
• Make a commitment to make one healthy life change in food or exercise.
• Whatever you do, keep communicating about you both growing together as well as individually.

Never make it sound as if it is all about you because it isn't.

Changing and growing as a couple, as well as individually, is a crucial key to a maintaining a strong, healthy relationship. While the safety of familiarity and a certain amount of sameness are necessary and comforting to you both, new ideas and opinions add spice to your partnership and help to keep it fresh and exciting.

Almost any relationship in which you have invested time and energy, and in which there are sincere, caring feelings, is worth saving. You owe it to yourself and your partner to make the effort to sustain what you had and still have.

Change can be disconcerting to someone who desires a 'changeless comfort zone'. You need to be the catalyst for making healthy, positive changes for your partner by allowing communication to be an ongoing dialogue.

© 2015 Copyright Kristen Houghton
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