Discover more from For Better Or Worse: Tales From A Married Man
can you outgrow a partner?
she divorced her husband because she 'levelled' up.
Enter the controversial viral clip of the woman who divorced her husband because she leveled up and felt like she had 'outgrown' her marriage. Here are my two cents on 'outgrowing a spouse.'
I can't imagine being in a relationship with a person who stifled my growth. The relationships I see that work the best are usually not the ones filled with glamour and romance, but they are relationships fueled by the desire for both parties to grow.
Sitting a table's length away from my wife on our now infamous first date, I knew my teenage self (with a head filled with dreams and pockets filled with lint) needed to step up. Less excuses, higher expectations, execution over ideas. I had talent and ambition, but commitment would force me to prove that to someone other than myself. It takes a lot of maturity to lean into growth.
Back to our 'leveled up' lady, I can't speak to her personal situation (because I hate when the internet takes something someone said in 60 seconds — I've been there — and tries to ruin their life). Look, we all outgrow things; relationships, friendships, environments — it's inevitable. Despite our human capacity to mature past our circumstances, the bar for outgrowing a spouse should be elevated higher than most things. People throw around the term 'life partner' without understanding it. Marriage requires selfless growth, it's getting to the top of the mountain and lowering the rope for your partner to climb up afterwards. It's not always ideal or convenient, but that's the purpose of partnership and teamwork. The goal is to cross the finish line together. Sometimes one person must lead the way, but the philosophy remains, 'no man (or woman) left behind.' In a marriage, you should both elevate alongside each other. When my wife or I read a transformative book, guess who the first person we recommend it to is? Many years ago, on a late night on Camberwell Grove, she handed me her battered copy of the book someone she had just finished. It was Robert Kiyosaki's now controversial, Rich Dad Poor Dad, a book that transformed my life. A week later, we discussed the concept of assets over liabilities and how to grow my creative ventures. When I saw her life in corporate banking dwindling down a road of misery and promotion chasing, I told her to quit and agreed to pay the bills while she re-discovered herself. She went on to create a role she loves, working for arguably one of the most successful companies of all time. I've said it many times, but marriage is iron sharpens iron. One hand washes the other and then they both wash the face.
Naturally, two heads should be better than one, a relationship should elevate you, but on the flip side, most people struggle to commit to the challenge of being with a partner who forces you to grow. They want the best for you, but you know it's not going to be easy to attain it. It's the Coach Carter, Mr. Miyagi, Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday (damn right, I'm showing my age) dilemma. Although change cannot be helped, growth is a choice. Many people do not want to grow and instead opt for superficial 'freedom'. Sadly, being ready for commitment doesn't always mean that you are ready for growth. So it is possible to outgrow someone who refuses to grow. If a person willingly chooses to remain stuck, then that's on them; eagles don't fly alongside pigeons, and lions can't hunt next to sheep. While it's true that people can outgrow each other, it is essential to recognize the difference between outgrowing someone and simply refusing to grow alongside them. When one person chooses to remain stagnant, the imbalance becomes apparent. It becomes a battle between the yearning for personal growth and the desire to maintain a bond.
For better or worse, till death do us part, ride or die — all sound good on paper, but life is unpredictable. People become unrecognizable in the face of temptation, hardship, or adversity; the challenges of life never leave you unscathed. A marriage is a commitment to love, and a greater commitment to partnership.
In the journey of marriage, growth is not a linear path. It is a winding road with twists and turns, uphill battles, and unexpected detours. Both individuals within the partnership must be willing to face these challenges head-on and evolve together in pursuit of a shared vision for the future.
If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living - Gail Sheehy