I was in the car with my husband listening to the new Fall Out Boy album when he told me that their fans booed them off the stage when they played their new material. Fall Out Boy had evolved from “pop punk” to a blend of pop rock and dance beats, and people were unhappy about it.
But my husband’s favorite band (Coheed & Cambria) and my favorite musician (John Mayer) have also evolved from album to album. Yet somehow we enjoy them to the same degree, except in different ways now.
So yes, it’s possible to love an artist unconditionally despite not loving every single song. But is it possible to still love your partner or spouse, even after he or she has dramatically evolved?
We hope that the person we married will stay the same, that the qualities we fell in love with will stand the test of time. And we assume that we will remain mostly unchanged, and that aside from relatively insignificant things, our identities are set.
But when people change it’s because they are responding to life’s unpredictable events. The stable, reliable man you married may be radically altered by a traumatic incident. The woman who was once so attentive to you may build a new a life and confidence around other interests and people.
Or maybe it’s you. Maybe you’re the one who will evolve (for better or for worse), and you’ll wonder if the people who once loved you will boo the “new you” off the stage.
Yes, there may come a time in your relationship when there is nothing salvageable left, no trace of the person you once knew, nothing worth your patience or hard work, and no prize big enough to risk your dignity or safety.
But when I think about Love despite the inevitable evolution we all, as humans, experience to some degree, I imagine that the survival of a relationship is only possible when we’re concerned for the other person’s needs just as much as we’re concerned for our own. When Love has moved passed a selfish desire to put your own needs and ego before all else– it can survive the changing seasons. When someone changes because they must, because their soul demands it, true Love gives him or her its blessing.
Would you be willing to let your partner breathe, roam, and find himself, even if it meant you could never recreate the “old” version of your love story?
Unless you’ve been in this situation yourself, it’s hard to know how you would respond. All I know is that in the meantime, as we brace ourselves for the future, it is possible to prepare our minds and hearts for that which is the only constant in life: change. We can do this by exercising our courage, because really, this is the virtue you’ll most need when it’s time to embrace change, or to walk away when the change isn’t worthy of being embraced.