How to Grow Separately in a Young Marriage

They say that positivity is contagious. Is that true for negativity, too?

If you're an "early mama" reading this, then you've probably spent little time living alone, getting to know your adult self. Personally, I've been with my guy for 10 years. That means that I basically went from living with my parents to living with my permanent housemate, with very little time in between. When you add becoming a mom on top of that, my alone time has been virtually non-existent.

We've heard time and again about the importance of our 20s — and this is true for so many reasons. For me, the most glaringly obvious shift in my life was transitioning from "sleepwalking" every day to uncovering an awakening conscious perspective. I completely changed through my 20s, but I somehow found myself in the process.

And it's been hard work. I dealt with the anxiety and depression that plagued me. I faced my biggest fears by examining them under the microscope of self-awareness. I worked to reprogram the neurons in my brain — quite literally how I think — and it took a long time.

I bet a lot of you are doing the same. It's exactly what Michelle has written before — how our children are so often our source of strength. They can also be the catalyst we need to become better people, and to even inspire us to chase our dreams (perhaps because, intuitively, we want the same for them). We work to change, and they keep us inspired. It's perfect.

But what happens when there is someone else living under your roof who isn't on the same page? How can we peacefully co-exist with our partner/husband/boyfriend who has no desire or ability to make the changes we're making?

I know it may seem impossible, but I promise that it can be done. Today I'm going to share 5 tips to help you in this situation:

1. Shift your focus

The most important thing that you can do in this situation is shift your focus on to you, and away from your partner. Whenever you feel the pull to dwell on your differences and the changes that are (or aren't) happening, put that energy toward more inner growth. Listen to that podcast. Pick up that book. Watch that documentary. Don't waste time stressing about what you can't control.

2. Understand the journey

When you're part of a couple, it's easy to forget that you're both very much individuals. Often when we're in a good, solid relationship, that's when issues rise to the surface most. It's like our needs are met on a basic level, so we start to dig deeper. Let your partner deal with his issues when it's time, and you deal with yours when it's your time.

3. Practice surrendering

If you're feeling an internal struggle with your partner, it might be because you're holding on to an idea in your head that isn't happening. It's time to let go and surrender to what actually is happening. Loosen the reigns on the situation so it can play out however it is meant to play out.

4. Gently nudge

You don't have to be completely silent. You can use low-key methods of grabbing your partner's attention. You know him well — if it's really important to you, there are ways to gently nudge him. Leave books and magazines out for him to stumble on, and suggest watching films together that can open up a dialogue.

5. Be compassionate

When we're changing, it can be easy to judge others who are not on the same path. Isn't it ironic? You can be doing all of this "inner work," only to realize that you're more judgmental of others than ever! (Ed note: This is often referred to as being High and Mighty. Check yourself.) Open your heart to your partner and understand that you're no better than him. You come from different backgrounds. You have had different life experiences. And our experiences come at different times; you can't force it.

One last thing: Take care of yourself, sister. Inner growth is hard, and there is very little gratification. It's a long-haul sort of deal. Don't let anyone bring you down for trying to better yourself. Your life will be infinitely better for it.

Read more from Heidi at The Conscious Perspective.

And read more of my thoughts on this young marriage challenge.