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Seasons Change: Growing Together or Growing Apart?

Updated on February 8, 2013

No truer words were ever spoken than the lyrics of the song "Everything Must Change" Written by, Benard Ighner.

"Everything must change, Nothing stays the same

Everyone will change, No one stays the same

Cause that's the way of time, Nothing and no one goes unchanged"

In any long-term relationship you are either "growing together" or "growing apart",

Nurturing or neglecting, change is inevitable.

Life Happens

When Gary met Michelle he was 42 and she was 48.

Gary lived in an apartment on a beach in Southern California and Michelle lived approximately thirty miles away. On most weekends Michelle would drive up to his place. Michelle had an adult daughter whom she was sharing a two-bedroom apartment with. Weekends were full of passion, laughter, food, wine, and evening strolls along the shore.

Gary and Michelle traveled over the course of their relationship up and down the California coast from San Diego to San Francisco and to several other travel destinations such as Las Vegas, New York, New Orleans, Seattle, Chicago, Hawaii, and beyond.

Michelle was passionate, and she was always ready to have some fun. She wanted to get to the party early and be the last one to leave. Gary observed she sometimes would drink too much especially around her close friends. She clowned around a little too much for his liking.

This often made him the designated driver and surrogate parent when he was forced to tell her it was time to go. Their first year together was like many couples that find new love.

They cruised through the infatuation phase, had some disagreements, and eventually settled into the attachment phase of their relationship.

Michelle had three grown daughters.

Sarah the oldest, lived in Northern California with her husband. Dawn, the middle daughter was a teacher and Paula the youngest, worked in a local grocery store and also waited tables for an Italian restaurant. Gary had no children.

The Winds of Change

Like most things in life change often begins in small degrees but added up amounts to a major shift. Sarah and her husband moved to Southern California. Once they got settled they began to have kids.

Naturally this was a joyous occasion for Michelle and her ex-husband. The birth of grandchildren led to more family events with her ex and former in-laws. Gary and Michelle would baby-sit from time to time. They purchased toys for the kids to play with when they came to visit.

Family Illness

Michelle’s mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer.

After surgery it was necessary for her to sell her condo and move into a nursing home. Michelle went to visit her most evenings after work and on weekends. Gary would often go with her. On her free evenings sometimes Michelle went straight home, other times she went out for happy hour cocktails with co-workers, or had dinner with girlfriends. A few times Gary had to go pick up Michelle because she had drank too much.

Family Drama

Paula the youngest daughter purchased a condo where she met and fell in love with Tom, a fellow owner. Soon after the relationship began Tom became verbally abusive and gradually became physically abusive slapping her, spitting on her, and threatening her.

One night Paula dropped by Gary and Michelle’s home.

Paula lay in the middle of the kitchen floor in a fetal position as her mother cried and rocked her. This was only the start of their abusive yo-yo relationship.

Dawn the middle child earned over forty thousand dollars a year as a teacher and had a one bedroom apartment. For some reason she was always broke, which led her to call Michelle for money from time to time. Although Michelle had her own mountain of debt she always came through like a hero for Dawn.

Sarah has a Masters Degree but never worked because she met and fell in love with a guy from a rich family while attending college.

In Dawn’s eyes Sarah was handed everything on a silver platter and since she had given the family grandchildren everyone was always fawning over her. Michelle would find herself in the middle of some of their feuds.

Bye-Bye passionate sex life

Lastly Michelle had begun to experience menopause symptoms. Her sexual desire faded and she was not concerned with pleasing Gary. Sex was erratic at best and completely without imagination or creativity. Even when they managed to have a getaway more often than not there was no sex.

Let Freedom Ring

One Saturday afternoon Gary stood alone before a smoky hot BBQ grill cooking chicken and hot links while Michelle’s family were in the cool indoors talking, laughing, and listening to music. The grandchildren were running up and down the stairs screaming, laughing, turning lights on and off, toys were strewn all over the house. Sarah had just delighted the family by announcing she was pregnant with her third child.

As Gary stood before the grill he thought back to the life he use to have 6 ½ years ago. He realized how much he missed the life he had. He also knew if he stayed in this relationship nothing was going to change. After attending his first “potty party” to celebrate a child’s first use of the toilet he quietly asked himself, “How did I get here?”

Gary knew what he had to look forward to by staying in this relationship. There would be more family gatherings, more drama, less one on one time with Michelle, and less sex. In many ways Gary had become invisible in his own home. He felt like he was being taken for granted and unappreciated. Nothing spoke louder to him than Michelle forgetting to buy him a simple Christmas card. As he began to place the chicken and hot links on a platter Michelle stuck her head outdoors and asked, “Are we done?”

Gary looked up from the grill and replied, “Yes, we’re done.”

Never mistake your mate’s silence for being in agreement.

“Spiteful words can hurt your feelings but silence breaks your heart”


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    • dashingscorpio profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Benedictowelmar, Unfortunately there is no such thing as "neutral" in relationships. We're either growing together or growing apart.

      The saddest part of it all is it often happens (silently) and gradually.

      Thanks for your comment!

    • dashingscorpio profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      spock28, Thanks for the compliment.

      Silence oftentimes can lull someone to sleep or give them a false sense of security. People think just because they're not having arguments that everyone is happy. Always keep the conversation flowing and asking questions to make sure you're on the same page. Everyone wants their mate to love and appreciate them. To do those things is a form of nurturing the relationship. Ideally it happens both ways!

      Sometimes when a person stops asking for things, fighting, or disagreeing with you it just means they have given up.

      A "surprise breakup" may be in the cards.

    • profile image

      Kris Koshner 

      4 years ago

      Hi you have a great style of writing simple facts of life!! Many a times its the expectation of wanting to be appreciated that kills the relationship !! Silence may break your heart but many times its more powerful than words .

    • dashingscorpio profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      CraftytotheCore, Thank you so much for sharing your cautionary tale. Too often people believe that having major fights is sign that a couple is growing apart. The truth is it is often silent and gradual. We really do have to make it a "priority" to stay (connected) in marriages and relationships. Too much time alone or "doing our own thing" can lead to (emotional distance). I actually included this hub in my book: My Cat Won't Bark! (A Relationship Epiphany).

      The reality is there is no such thing as being "neutral" in relationships. We're either "growing together" or we're "growing apart".

      Thanks again for posting your comment!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image


      5 years ago

      Dashing, well done. It was a sad revelation when I realized my ex was no longer the man I married. We grew apart.

      After taking a job a state away, traveling by train morning and evening, he started surrounding himself by beautiful women, drinking wine, and succumbing to single way of life even though I was home waiting for him at home late every night with our two children.

      It was when we went out to dinner for the first time by ourselves after the children were born, that I realized how distant we had grown. He talked about himself all night. I sat there silently in disbelief that almost a decade together and we had nothing left in common.

      I'm happily married now to a man who get's me. We make time for each other every single day. We are supportive together. And there's one thing I do differently this second go around. I make sure my man is happy before we go to sleep. He wants for nothing. He does the same for me. If that means making his favorite meal or remembering our manners, we show appreciation for one another.

    • dashingscorpio profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      jellygator, Thanks for your wonderful comment and including the link on your hub! Too many times when it comes to relationships many of us fall asleep at the wheel. There is a thin line between being "comfortable" and "taking someone for granted". Relationships require (nurturing). However lots of people see them as an opportunity to "relax".

    • jellygator profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Great way to illustrate how couples can grow apart without even realizing they are.... just because "life happens." Including a link to this on my latest hub.

    • dashingscorpio profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      christalluna1124, Thanks for your comments.

      Finding what you want and need in someone who feels the same about you is "Magic".

    • christalluna1124 profile image


      7 years ago from Dallas Texas


      Excellent hub. All relationships are change over time, for better or for worse. At some point you feel the transisition form that hot wild first few years to a more mature, secure and trusting phase...the latter to me is when you find the pinnecale of true love. If it was just about good sex we can all find that anywhere but finding someone who would lay down their life for you and knowing you would do the same for them...thats the great part. I've been lucky!!

      warmest regards,


    • dashingscorpio profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Edlira, thanks for your comment.

      I agree there is no such thing as smooth sailing in any long term relationship/marriage. It pays to make sure everyone is still onboard the boat from time to time. :-)

    • Edlira profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi dashingscorpio! Very interesting hub. Gary and Michelle could be my neighbours. So many recognizable patterns in this relationship. I believe the biggest mistake most couples make is overlooking problems right from the start, thinking "love conquers all", and letting problems take care of themselves, which apparently and obviously do not. To make a relationship work, in my opinion love is not enough!!! Compromise, understanding, appreciation and mutual sacrifice of on needs sometimes are needed. Relationship require hard work to function properly!

    • dashingscorpio profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you Sonbeam for your heartfelt comment!

      This hub was written to show how "life happens" and two people gradually grow apart. From Gary's point of view I'm sure his (going along to get along) for 6 1/2 years was his way of staying committed.

      Michelle’s neglect of Gary was not malicious.

      A lot of people find a mate and then they “relax”.

      They scratch it off their “to do list” and move on.

      For some people “commitment” means they will be together no matter how one treats the other. There is a quiet “assumption" or "taking for granted” he/she will always be there. They quit "nurturing" their garden of love.

      Neglect in these types of situations is rarely intentional. They see it as not having to "worry" anymore. Communication is not necessarily an “ask and it shall be given” thing. It’s also not a “warning shot” to (state the obvious). If you hit someone it’s not the victim’s job to say you “hurt me”? (You were there)

      Certainly Michelle was aware she was out drinking, not having sex with Gary, and didn’t bother to buy him a Christmas card. (We always know what we did or didn’t do.)

      Staying together for the sake of staying together is not a recipe for happiness. It's a design for building a prison.

      Life happens! Things happen beyond our control but it is always up to the “individual” to determine if she or he wants to stay the course or go in a different direction. We always have a choice.

      If someone realizes they can’t deal with a change it’s better to know sooner than later. We don't get to decide for them.

      We would all do well to remember relationships are like jobs, they are both “at will”.

      No one is “stuck” with anyone so it’s always best to make sure our mates are happy. Take nothing and no one for granted!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      If you ask me both Gary and Michelle were selfish in this relationship and Michelle was neglectful on top of that. When everything is good in a relationship, it takes both partners giving 100% to each. He putting her needs over his, and she putting his needs over hers. When you can find this rare combination then you have a receipe for a successful marriage/relationship. It seems that Gary didn't feel he would be able to stick from the beginning because Michelle drank too much for him and he didn't like cleaning up her messes. That was the first deal breaker. Secondly, Michelle should have been at home working on her relationship with Gary instead of out drinking with her friends. Deal breaker number two. I think all the other things Gary could have dealt with had Michelle been more attentive to his sexual and emotional needs. It appears he was there for her in all of her family emergencies, but she forgot to let him know how much she appreciated his efforts. In a family unit relationships will have their ups and downs, however, if Gary had not discussed his feelings with Michelle, he could not hold her responsible for what she didn't know or understand about his needs. It sounds like Michelle was trying to be everything for everybody and for her efforts, the one person she was supposed to be able to count on, left her for being a giving and loving person. Too bad she was giving and loving all others except her mate. In my opinion, and in the case of marriage only, partners are to come before all others PERIOD. That includes mom, dad, children, everybody. That's just the way I feel, and I get my basis from scripture. True, Gary didn't originally sign up for all of the drama, but with life comes drama. Every relationship Gary has is going to be met with twist and turns. The question he has to ask himself for his next relationship is how deep is he willing to go, otherwise he will find himself in a new relationship every 4 to 6 years without a doubt. Hopefully, he will feel the next woman will be worth the effort to do the work. All relationships take work. No matter how much love, lust, passion and agreement there is in the beginning, in the end, to keep the fires burning you will have to do some work to build a lasting and permanent relationship. The question people have to answer when entering any relationship is am I in for life or just until it gets hard. This is my opinion and the BOTTOM LINE. If you find that special someone you love and they love you, they understand who you are and what you stand for, the chemistry is there, the physical attraction is there, your philosophies on life agree and you have everything going, when you start you have to start from a position of I plan to stick and do all that is necessary to make this relationship work, because there are no perfect relationships and no perfect people. Love is not a feeling, but and act of committing to another person. It is something you willingly give and receive unconditionally. Real true love is extremely rare and if and when you find it, do all you can to protect it.


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