The Eight Stages of Relationships: Part Two
This is part two of a series on the predictable stages of a relationship. To read part one, click here.
How a couple negotiates the fourth stage — Power Struggle — determines what stages they will encounter next. I cannot stress enough how important it is to negotiate the power struggle stage successfully in order to keep your relationship alive and thriving.
At this point in your relationship you will follow one of two tracks, and I will be describing both. A couple who has negotiated the power struggle successfully will most likely follow Track One, which I will cover in this article. Couples who did not negotiate the power struggle successfully and who require work in their relationship are more likely to follow Track Two, to be covered next week.
Track One: What Happens When the Power Struggle Is Over?
Stage Five: Growth
It takes a lot of soul-searching, self-discovery and deepenedcommunication to break out of the power struggle and move beyond it. It also takes redefining the relationship, firming up some of the relationship roles while loosening others. Through all of this, both partners must grow or the changes will simply not be adequate for the relationship to thrive. And those who are committed to their relationships do grow, no matter what may be required of them.
When it starts and how long it lasts: Growth is an ongoingstate of a relationship, but it will be more intense at some times than at others. After a power struggle, the couple will experience a “growth spurt,” a period of intense growth lasting from six months to a year or longer.
The joy: The joy is in the results of the growth. The more each of you grows, the more intimacy you are able to share with oneanother. The more intimate you become, the more in love you become. The more love you feel for each other, the more joyful you become.
The stumbling block: Growth can be terrifying and confusing.You may know what you need to change in your behavior, but you may be afraid to make the changes. Or you may have no idea how to make the changes. The same thing may apply to your partner.
What to do: Find a way to grow — both together and separately– and infuse your relationship with new life. Think of this period as your second chance to create the relationship you have always wanted with a partner you have always wanted to be with.
Stage Six: The Second Honeymoon
It’s not that there will never be hard work or hard times again, but you have reached a new stage in your relationship — a stage where you cherish and treasure each other, appreciate the good and accept the bad. You have bonded, connected, joined. This is what love is all about.
When it starts and how long it lasts: This stage startssometime after the power struggle is over and can be intermittent or ongoing. In the best possible scenario it will last until the end.