One of the most common contributing factors for divorce and marital strife is the idea that couples grow apart over time. As a Houston relationship therapist, I’ve talked to many people who feel that their significant other has changed so much that they almost seem to be a different person. Of course, change doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. We all change over time (nobody exists in a static state), but if you want your relationship to last, the important thing is to change with your partner. That is, you should both encourage each other’s individual expressions and work to understand how each other is truly feeling.

Let’s take a positive look at change this week and talk about 5 ways that healthy relationships can help individuals grow.

Your partner encourages you to get out of your comfort zone. The only way to truly grow as a person is to have new experiences, but you’re never going to have those meaningful novel experiences if you get settled into a routine. However, couples can encourage each other to try new activities that they might not have otherwise, such as traveling to another part of the world or learning a new skill.

Your partner points out positive things about you. According to Dr. John Gottman, couples in healthy relationships average 5 positive interactions for every one negative interaction. That means that your partner is pointing out positive things about you and allowing you to see yourself in a new light. This can increase your confidence and self-esteem.

Your partner encourages good habits. When you’re in a relationship, you’ll likely notice that you and your partner start adopting some of each other’s good habits. For example, you may compromise on a bed time instead of staying up watching TV into the middle of the night, or start going to the gym together a couple times of week. Just pay attention to your habits and make sure it’s the good ones that are sticking, not the bad!

Your relationship gives you emotional support when you most need it. A good partner is there to support you during the good times and the bad times. If you’ve experienced something negative like the loss of your job or a death in the family, your partner will be there to help you get through the grieving process and keep going with your life.

Your relationship gives you space to be yourself. When you’re at work or in certain social situations, you may feel the pressure to be “on”—to present the version of yourself that you think will go over the best in the given situation. This can be draining, especially for introverts who need alone time to recharge. When you feel particularly close to your partner, however, you feel safe to be yourself and know that your partner loves you for who you are.

Learn more ways that your relationship has a positive effect on you by contacting the Houston marriage counselor today.