|The Eight+ Stages of Relationships, Part 2
The Relationship Stages After the Power Struggle
Last week's article covered the first four stages that a
relationship endures. How a couple negotiates the fourth stage --
Power Struggle -- determines what happens to their relationship
and what stages they will encounter next. I cannot say enough
about how important it is to negotiate the power struggle stage
successfully in order to keep your relationship alive and
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 this week. 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 5: Growth
It takes a lot of soul searching, self-discovery, and deepened
communication 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 other roles. 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 ongoing
state 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" with a period of intense growth
lasting from 6 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 one
another. The more intimate you become, the more in love you
become. The more love you feel for each other, the more joyful
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 6: 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. Now this is what love is all about.
When it starts and how long it lasts: This stage starts
sometime after the power struggle is over and can be
intermittent or ongoing. In the best possible scenario it will
last until the end.
The joy: It is almost all joy -- the joy of connection at a
level you have either always dreamed about or could never
imagine. It is a joy to share your life with your partner in a
The stumbling block: The stumbling block is that you don't
expect your connection to be broken. It is solid yet flexible
now and can allow for much stress and change. Yet, as you both
are human, it will be broken at times.
What to do: Remember what brought you to this wonderful place
and keep tending to your relationship by continuing to
communicate and grow.
Stage 7: "The Child"
A "child" can be real children or it can be an idea, business,
or passionate involvement on which both of you are focused. This
can be as simple as the value you place on living your life as a
couple, or as intricate as being involved in a cause or a
political campaign. Or, of course, it can be parenthood with all
of its complexities.
When it starts and how long it lasts: Ideally the couple has
life and blood child only when they are through the power
struggling and are into the second honeymoon. But for many
couples, this stage happens throughout the relationship.
The joy: The joy is in sharing a third entity you created
together or are both passionate about. The joy is leaning and
working together. The joy is also seeing different aspects of
each other as you get passionately involved in the "other" entity.
The stumbling block: The stumbling block will be learning to
work together and becoming a team. It can be hard to share
responsibility. Often both partners will think their way of
doing something is THE right way.
What to do: Joyfully embrace the "other" involvement. It will
bring a deeper dimension to your relationship and bring you
closer together. Learn to work together, negotiate, and
Stage 8: Life Crisis
Very few people live a charmed life without life crises.
Whether it is a job or career change, or a move to a new city or
country, whether forced or willingly chosen, change feels like
life crisis. Whether it is declining health or a sudden illness
of your spouse or another loved one, serious health issues can
be life crises. If your property or your financial situation is
threatened, dealing with and resolving the issues can feel like
a life crisis. If you have far too many demands on you and not
enough time or space to fulfill them, you may feel as if you are
in a life crisis. What affects you deeply affects your
When it starts and how long it lasts: Life crises can happen at
any time, but hopefully can get handled in a timely manner and
not overtake the relationship. Life crises can also happen more
than once in the course of a relationship as the couple grows
and develops and matures together.
The joy: If there is joy in life crisis it is that by now you
should be able to mobilize quickly as a team to deal with
whatever situation arises. Often there is also a deeper bonding
that occurs in crisis -- and that can be a nourishing kind of
joy as well.
The stumbling block: The nature of crisis is that there are
many stumbling blocks, not the least of them being one or both
partners being less available to the other for a time. This can
be extreme, such as in an illness, or temporary and somewhat
mild, such as in financial worries or starting a business. The
difficult part is not having each other to always count upon
just when you need each other most.
What to do: As much as possible, stay connected. And as much as
possible, work on looking at the positive aspects of your life.
Work on being grateful for all that is yours in spite of crisis.
This will help you both to get through the crisis more positively.
Beyond Stage 8: Life Happens
What happens after your relationship has touched on all eight
stages? Life happens to a more mature, seasoned, and hopefully
happy and vibrant couple. You move together and separately
through your life and know when you need to connect and when you
need time apart. You know how to meet each other's needs and
seek increasingly deeper connection. Your relationship is the
rock, the wellspring of peace in your life.
Next week: Track Two, post-power-struggle-stages, is more
likely to be followed by a couple who did not negotiate the
power struggle successfully and has relationship work to do.
Do you have comments, questions, or feedback about this
article? I would love to hear from you. Simply email me with
Your Relationship Coach
(c) Rinatta Paries. Do you know how to attract your ideal mate? Do you know how to build a fulfilling relationship, or how to reinvent yours to meet your needs? Relationship Coach Rinatta Paries can teach you the skills and techniques to attract and sustain long-term, healthy partnerships. Visit www.WhatItTakes.com where you'll find quizzes, classes, advice and a free weekly ezine. Become a "true love magnet(tm)!"
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