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The Eight+ Stages of Relationships, Part II

Relationships go through predictable stages as they grow and develop. This can be said for all relationships, but it is specifically true for romantic relationships.

What stage is your relationship in? Or, if you are not in a relationship, at what stage do your relationships always end? Why?

Knowledge can be power - if you know the stage you are in or the stage at which your relationships always end you may be able to see events in a different way as they unfold, and perhaps even change their course.

You may want to review part I of this article.

The Eight+ Stages of Relationships, Part II

The power struggle, stage 4 of relationships, is the deciding point of the relationship, and solidifies your future together. There are two possible ways the couple comes out of a power struggle, which is why each of the following stages has two options:

Stage 5: Growth vs Anger

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 six months to a year or longer.

Anger
If the power struggle is not negotiated successfully, at some point one or both partners give up struggling. They, however, do not give up on the issues, on their needs, or on their entrenched positions. They simply give up struggling. Because nothing has been resolved during or after the power struggle, they only have one choice - anger. Anger can look obvious and belligerent, or quiet and passive. Either way, it is unmistakable.

When it starts and how long it lasts: This stage starts after the power struggle has gone on too long. One or both partners have burned out from continuously not getting their needs met. This often does not start for years; but once started, is very difficult to turn around.

Stage 6: The Second Honeymoon vs Peace with a Price

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, what made the relationship worth working on.

When it starts and how long it lasts: This stage starts some time after the power struggle is over and can be intermittent or ongoing. In the best possible scenario it will last until the end.

Peace with a Price
Even anger can burn out after a while, leaving behind nothing but silence and often indifference. The couple, if they have made it together this far, will typically live parallel but separate lives. They will still interact on necessary issues, such as child-rearing and household responsibilities, but will share little else. They will finally have peace, because they are no longer demanding anything from each other, but love and passion may be all but lost.

When it starts and how long it lasts: This stage can take years to develop and is often found in long-term marriages and relationships. Very occasionally, this can be a phase in a fairly new relationship. Once in this stage, the couple normally does not grow out of it unless something drastic shakes them up.

Stage 7: "The Child"

The Joyful "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 real human children only when they are through the power struggle and are into the second honeymoon. But for many couples, this stage happens throughout the relationship.

The Last Resort "Child"
For couples who did not fare well in the power struggle, a meaningful project that involves them both is rarely a choice. There may be circumstances beyond their control that bind them together, or something one partner devised in an attempt to keep the other one from leaving or straying too far.

When it starts and how long it lasts: For many couples, this stage can be the last attempt to save the relationship. This stage can happen at any time the relationship is deeply threatened.

Stage 8: Life Crisis Fared Well vs Poorly

Life Crisis Fared Well
Whether it is a job or career change or a move to a new city or country, whether it is forced or willingly chosen, change sometimes feels like a 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 respond to them all, you may feel as if you are in a life crisis. What affects you deeply affects your relationship. The couple uses crises as opportunities to support each other and connect more deeply. They come together as a team to deal with the situation.

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, develops and matures together.

Life Crisis Fared Poorly
Because the relationship is already in crisis, any additional crisis runs a risk of destroying the relationship. Both of you may no longer be able to function within the relationship. You or your partner may simply leave.

Beyond Stage 8: Life Happens vs Life Happens, But Separately

Life Happens
What happens after your relationship has touched on all eight stages? Life happens to a more mature, seasoned, 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 wellspring of love in your life.

Life Happens, But Separately
What happens to a couple that never resolves the power struggle issues? They may go their separate ways. They may stay together but effectively live separate lives and be involved in other relationships. One of both may stay and suffer silently, holding on to the hope that something will change. No matter which path they take, they do not derive many of the benefits and joys for which people get involved in relationships. They often do not function as a couple at all.


What stage is your relationship in and how is it doing? Or, at what stage did your last relationship end in, and do you have the tools to do it differently next time? Should you care? Only if you want deep, true love!


3. Help for Your Love Life: Something New and Different, part II

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Enjoy!
Your Relationship Coach,
Rinatta Paries
Coach@WhatItTakes.com
www.WhatItTakes.com


(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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