Friday, August 7th, 2020

R Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin
Relationships Change


An older couple was driving down one of the streets of their small town. As the husband drove, his wife carried the conversation. Most of us men have a difficult time doing two things at one time and, at the moment, the husband's one thing was driving. The man grunted every now and then to let his wife know he was listening. As they stopped at an intersection, a young couple pulled up in a sporty pick-up.

Their radio was booming so that everyone in town could hear it. Practically sitting on top of each other, the young couple was laughing and looking dreamy eyed at each other. As they drove away, the older woman said to her husband, 'You know, we used to be like that young couple. We used to hold hands, laugh, sit close, and get excited about being together. What happened?' The man continued driving, looking ahead, hunched over the steering wheel. Finally he said, 'I ain't the one who moved.'

Often I hear men complaining about their partners and explaining why they are having trouble in their relationship by saying, 'She has changed. She is not the person I married.' It is like the saying, 'Women marry men hoping they will change, but they don't. Men marry women hoping they will not change, but they do.'

Change is difficult. It is upsetting and stirs up a lot of feelings, because when one person changes, the other is not sure how to relate to him. Often the person who is changing receives anger designed to get him/her to go back to the way they were. While change is unsettling, it is the way we grow. As people change, so do relationships.

Relationships go through stages of growth. The first stage is called the romantic stage. It also might be called the unrealistic stage because couples do not think they have problems. 'We love each other.' They think love is enough until they bump into the next stage. During the romantic stage, the couple focuses on each other and the relationship. The relationship is a priority so they give it time and energy. They plan their conversation and disclose their deepest feelings.

This stage is also known by its illusions, fantasies, sheer enjoyment and delight in each other's presence. There is a lot of sharing. They become emotionally vulnerable. The conversation is respectful and non-judgmental. The goal of this stage is to discover their shared possibilities and visions. They do not see or they overlook problems that are in the relationship. This stage ends when they realize it takes more than love to make a marriage/relationship work.

Stage two is the power struggle, which will be discussed in my next column. I will also explore ways to enhance your marriage. One way is learning to play. Play, including going on 'dates', is an essential ingredient in keeping the relationship fully alive.

At Virginia Beach Christian Church, we will be offering a Giant Date on the Carnival Cruise Ship Ecstasy this spring. It will include a one hour marriage workshop each morning and evening. Proven methods to make your relationship more fun will be offered. We'll also be offering a cruise to Mexico for singles in the spring. For more information, please call the church office at 481-3494.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700