She Said, He Said: Take time to take stock, reflect on your marriage this time of year |

She Said, He Said: Take time to take stock, reflect on your marriage this time of year

Lori Ann Kret and Jeff Cole
She Said, He Said

Dear friends,

The beginning of a new year offers a wonderful opportunity to reflect on who you are in your relationship today, and how you’ve come to be here. Every relationship cycles through periods of tension, resolution, flow and stagnation.

Though many partners have an appreciation for the times of ease and steadiness, it’s the experience of evolving that keeps most of us feeling fulfilled in our relationships.

Both the purpose of marriage and what we define as a “good” relationship have changed significantly over the past half-century. Our needs and wants have shifted as society, technology and gender roles have progressed.

The goal of partnership now is to find a best friend, a lover, a life companion and someone who will help to bring out the best in you — someone who will help you grow.

But growth in relationships can feel uncomfortable, challenging and sometimes downright scary. Partnerships tend to settle into a place of homeostasis — a compromised balance that is consciously or unconsciously supported by both partners and accepted as the comfortable norm.

This equilibrium often feels lovely in the short-term. But over time, what originally seemed like stability will often slowly morph into complacency. The routine becomes set, the efforts of each partner begin to dwindle, and stagnation becomes a breeding ground for irritation and resentment.

Yet, so many couples become stuck here because it’s familiar and predictable, while change is hard and messy. Growth means rocking the boat, not knowing how your partner or the bond between you will respond.

Challenging the static status quo within yourself and in the partnership is the most healthy, positive and loving choice you can make.

In the spirit of supporting relationship growth, we invite you to explore how you and your partner have grown, and in what areas you are ready to expand and evolve in 2020.

• How have you grown as an individual over the past year?

• How have you grown as a partner?

• In what ways do you want to grow this year?

• What might you ask your partner for in support of your growth?

• How has your partner grown?

• In what ways does your partner want to grow?

• How can you support them on their desired path?

• How has your relationship evolved or remained stagnant?

Carve out a few minutes with your partner to explore your answers together and you’ll kick off 2020 with a clear vision for how you’d each like your relationship to grow and flourish.

Lori and Jeff are married, licensed psychotherapists and couple-to-couple coaches at Aspen Relationship Institute. Submit your relationship questions to and your query may be selected for a future column.