In every relationship, like in life, the only constant is change.

Truth.

Reading that statement in Eight Dates:  Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love made me stop and reflect on how my husband and I have both changed and also how we have grown together over the years.   

When we met, there were similarities, such as we were both recently divorced, grew up in the same faith, had dogs and loved to cycle.  

The differences, though, were stark.  Different sides of the political spectrum.  Different holiday traditions.  His love of sports.  My quest to grow spiritually.  And that just scratches the surface.

But in the last 25 years we have managed to create shared meaning in our relationship.  Research on married couples shows that when couples hold their relationship sacred, they have better relationships.

Bingo.  

We were able to navigate our differences, sometimes with struggle, but always with a desire to be in the relationship.  

The 7th Date

We planned the 7th date on the fly.  I literally grabbed the book as we were running out the door to drive to College Station to attend a lecture.  The book suggests that you select a place that feels beautiful and sacred to both of you.

Does driving on 290 and stopping at Buc-ees in Waller count as sacred?  I vote YES.  They have the cleanest bathrooms, the best snacks and awesome tee-shirts.  Come to think of it, it is actually a ritual for us.  Whenever we head out of town by car, we stop at Buc-ees.  I guess you can say it is part of our shared meaning.  

The 7th date conversation topic was “How have we each grown and changed in the relationship?  What does spirituality mean to each of us and how do we express it? 

A heavy topic indeed.

The topic relates to the shared meaning couples create. It is basically the Story of US.  It is the way couples weave their lives together. 

When couples work out the roles they take on, the goals they share for the future, and stay connected by ritually coming together, they create shared meaning.

We reflected on how we have changed and also how we have strengthened the story of US.

We are the George’s.  We love Thanksgiving and have combined our traditions (he needs football, I need brussels sprouts).  We still love to cycle, although our knees don’t always cooperate like they used to.  Most nights of the week you can catch us cooking dinner together.  He has become the grill master and I make the veggies.  Our dogs create time for us to talk every night because they demand a walk, but we love it as much as they do.  We go to football games, which I now enjoy and he goes to musicals with me and actually initiates these dates on occasion.  We currently enjoy taste-testing different bourbons, something I never thought I would like.  We still diverge in minor ways on spirituality and politics, but it is inconsequential.  Scattered about our house are symbols of the things we have shared together, such as memorable trips, and of course, memories of our now college-age son.  We don’t always like the other’s work schedule, but we have managed to work around it and share chores. We are empty nesters who have worked hard to save for retirement and have a shared bucket list of things we want to do before we leave the planet.

In a nutshell, that is shared meaning.  

Mary Beth George
Mary Beth George is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Gottman Therapist, Master Trainer for the Gottman Institute and co-owner of Couples Counseling & Psychotherapy Associates. She is an empty nester with a passion for rescue dogs, traveling and spending time with people that make her laugh.