Saturday, February 4, 2012

Stages of a relationship

Every relationship moves through stages (from that first kiss all the way through to the marriage part and beyond). Many people believe that a "good relationship" is one long honeymoon phase that just remains like a fairy tale or soap opera relationship. WRONG!!! Sorry to disappoint but that's not reality.

The main cause of relationship failure is that couples break up instead of make up. It sometimes seems easier to change partners or run away from the relationship instead of actually making the effort to work on it and really make it better.

To advance through the stages of a relationship, change is REQUIRED! Change and compromise. When you take two lives and blend them into one, change is inevitable!

Couples move back and forth between these stages of love until they reach the final destination (REAL and EVERLASTING love). It's unrealistic to believe that a relationship will grow and strengthen without any work. Relationships will always have those ups and downs.

Ok- I will get to the point now :-) What are those stages that I keep rambling about?

Stage 1- The honeymoon stage
This is that stage when you first meet. Everything is great. There are so many butterflies. The passion is surreal. There are no troubles or conflict. There is no reason for change because there is so much lust. This is the spontaneous "falling in love" stage. However, it is not the conscious decision to love each other. We don't see anything negative about our partner at this time in the relationship. They are wonderful, perfect yada yada yada. Our hearts and hormones are our leaders during this stage, not our heads. You are basically blind at this stage of a relationship. Now let's move on to Stage 2 of a relationship.

Stage 2- The magical thinking stage
The honeymoon stage is starting to fade some now. We are now starting to see some faults in our partner and we think that we are magically going to change them. Often, we get disappointed here. The longer you stay in this stage, the bigger the problems become and the more disconnected you get from the relationship. Magical thinking is bad ladies. There are times for some magical thinking though. These often occur during the break up and make up stages. It helps couples have the confidence to fight more for their relationship. This is also the stage whereas many people cheat. People love that honeymoon stage. They love those butterflies in the stomach. They try to recreate that. However, if you want to develop real love, take control of the situation at hand and fight for it. Work for it. People don't want to do this sometimes for the fear of being hurt or the fear of the unknown. Life is all about taking chances. If you don't take the chance and try to find the solution, how can you ever be truly happy? It's easier to run or be defensive and reactive than it is to be proactive. Replace that magical thinking with connection and communication. Fight Fair in your relationship (I have another great post to fighting fair and I will link back to that one at the end of this one if you wish to read it). I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the chances that you are going to magically change your partner to what you want them to be are slim to none. When you make changes, they will too! COMPROMISE! Now on to stage 3

Stage 3 of a relationship- The old power struggle stage
Again, honeymoon stage is over. I don't think the magical thinking stage ever really leaves us completely LOL. During this power struggle stage, couples tend to focus on their differences rather than everything they have in common. This is the stage where alot of what we saw as a child in our parent's relationship starts to come out. The closer you get to your partner, the closer you get to all those childhood wounds. Instead of sharing, you are now competing. This is the stage of a relationship where you have to give up "being right all the time" and give in to "what works". Again, we tend to run during this stage too. It is often easier to run than to really work at it. Running away from the issues instead of working on them is the leading cause of relationship failure. Expect conflicts and struggles. Identify the struggle. Rather than run, find solutions. Fight fair. Struggles occur at all points in a relationship. Use the struggles to learn and to make your relationship stronger. On to Stage 4 now.

Stage 4- The transition stage
Relationships change daily. Behavioral changes are required here to move on to the next stage. If you are willing to see the part you both play in the power struggle stage and put yourself in each other's shoes, you can spread your wings and fly together- without colliding. Always try to put yourself in your husband's (or partner's) position when a conflict arises. Try to see it from their point of view as well as your own. Changes like getting a new job or losing a job, moving in together, buying a house, getting engaged or married, getting a pay raise or pay cut are all parts of life and a relationship that require transition. These are the times to use transition to your advantage rather than letting it consume you and take you down. See each change as an opportunity for relationship and personal growth. Learn from it. Life and relationships are all about learning. Don't believe that you can't change. Don't believe that your partner can't change. Believe in yourself and believe in them. When you change for the positive, you create the space in the relationship for your partner to change. Do what needs to be done, cooperate, compromise and communicate. It's so important. I know because I lived it. I have read so many self help books and relationship books. I almost lost my husband and I am so happy that I took the necessary steps to work on my relationship. He's my best friend in the world. I will link back to that post as well at the end of this one. Today, we have one of the strongest and best connected relationships that I know of. Did I have to make changes? YES!! Did he have to make changes? YES!! Do the words "I am sorry" taste like vinegar coming out of my mouth? OF COURSE!! I am female haha. We like to always be right :-). Change and transition are so important. Expect to go backwards sometimes in your relationship. It's going to happen. Expect change and prepare for it. Don't take changes for granted. Appreciate them and learn from them. Continue to respond in new ways and try different things to make changes work. Don't make it harder than it needs to be. Change is a good thing. Life is way too short to be unhappy. Now on to stage 5

Stage 5- The Break Up stage
Yes, I have been there and done this. Before my husband was my husband, we broke up twice and Yes, I cheated once (before we got married). I am just telling you that because I am far from perfect. I write this blog to help women avoid the stupid mistakes that I have already made :-). Our relationship is awesome now but it took alot of hard work and change on both of our parts to get to this point in the relationship. Mostly all couples get to that point in their relationship where they wonder if they should end it or they do end it. Sometimes the grass always looks greener on the other side but than we learn that the grass was really greener on the side that we already had. Even if you don't physically break up, you can break up emotionally. If a couple breaks up emotionally but stays together physically, they usually get stuck in a resentment state of mind. You end up resenting your partner. You are angry with them. You hold grudges all the time. Your partner is supposed to be your best friend. If you find yourself feeling angry and resentful at them alot, you have a big problem. However, if a couple breaks up with love, as a proactive rather than a reactive step, the relationship can be revived and become stronger. I know because that is what happened to me. The break up stage of a relationship can last a few hours, a few days, a few weeks or a few months. It usually takes a few weeks for each of you to realize how much you really, truly miss each other- You go through all the stages. You are angry at first than you get sad than you get lonely without that other person. I know this sounds really negative but it can actually become a positive factor in your relationship. That is what happened with me. Guess what happens when you go through this stage?? You realize that you truly don't want to live without that other person and you are alot more willing to change (as they are) to get back to where you used to be as a couple. You realize that you don't necessarily like your life without that other person. You realize that you can focus more on your partner's positives than their negatives. We all have faults. Nobody's perfect. It took me a long time to realize that. My husband isn't perfect but his positives far outweigh his negatives. Don't leave anything to chance. Don't assume that next time will the same as the last time. Accept that changes need to be made to make the relationship work. Let's move on to stage 6 now :-)

Stage 6- The make-up stage
After a temporary break up, the make up stage is your second chance for love. If you get a second chance and truly want to be with that person, work for it! This is your second chance to make a first impression and start fresh. Couples who break up to make up and work through this stage develop the best relationships. They are strong. They are connected. They don't forget what made them break up in the first place. They learn from their mistakes. In this stage, you both change. You both agree to keep changing. You now know that you want to be with this other person. You are willing to make changes to do that. Many people break up to avoid this stage. They don't believe that they can change. They don't have the commitment and faith that they can make it through this. I am going to be a little harsh here and I am sorry but basically, they don't want to really work for it. A strong relationship isn't handed to you ladies on a silver platter, you have to work at it. Commit to yourself, commit to your partner. Ignore what anyone else says negatively. If you believe in your relationship and it is a good relationship, fight for it!! Also, the make up stage is great LOL. The conflict and tension from the break up causes passion and intimacy, which is why the sex is so great at this stage :-). I have another post on my blog about why intimacy is so important. You can read that at your own leisure :-) Do not blame or get angry. Deal with your anxiety by working at your relationship. Change is good ladies. Now on to the next stage :-) Thanks for staying with me so far LOL

Stage 7- The Re-Romanticizing stage
Whether you are making up after a break up or your relationship has just stalled out, it's time to shift gears ladies and enter this stage. This is the time to pull out all the stops and really go for it. Remember, you have done determined that you truly love your partner at this point and you want this relationship to work (NO RELATIONSHIP FAILURE FOR YOU)!!. It is up to you to recreate the magic and romance in your relationship. Again, I don't want to be harsh ladies but men really aren't bright when it comes to this type of stuff (which is why I posted the post about the power and influence that women have over men). Men are from Mars RIGHT?? They are clueless when it comes to this type of stuff. They really are. You lead, they follow in this department. They know how to provide and protect but are simply clueless in this department unless you lead them there. You need to guide them. Hug them when you want to stomp your feet and walk away. Coach (not nag) them to stay on track. Change your own behavior so they will change theirs. Don't throw the past back in your partner's face. See your partner as new each and every day. You can't change the past so don't go there, focus on the future. Be responsible for yourself and treat your partner as your equal. Ok, so now Last but not least- Stage 8

Stage 8- The Real and Lasting Love stage (which is where I am finally at WOOHOO on that one) Sorry, but it took alot of work and alot of learning for me to get here (so I am proud). In this final stage, you continue to grow together as well as individually. You know how to keep your love alive. You know how to live together successfully. You fight fair. You communicate. When you reach this stage, the relationship no longer seems like work because you already know each other so well. You have your "together" lives where you do certain stuff together but you also know yourself as an individual as well and you know your partner as an individual. You don't take each other for granted. You cherish each other and you have respect for your own beliefs and your own interests but you also cherish their respects and interests. You make time for romance, fun and just basically listening to each other and encouraging each other in their goals and dreams etc. You support one another and work as a team. Make sure intimacy stays at the top of your list. It's so important! Read my post as to why intimacy matters. Take some time and scroll through my different posts. I write every post from my heart and my own experience ladies so just scroll through. Honestly, I can't link back to every post but I do write this blog just to help women avoid the same mistakes that I have made and to help us all build better relationships together. A relationship is work so let's work together and share our feelings and thoughts and help each other. I am always looking for tips to improve my own so feel free to post any tips that you have on making relationships better.

Also, I know this blog isn't for everyone. I wrote this blog for women that have decent men in their lives but are struggling emotionally. I do not endorse or encourage staying with a man that is abusive (either Physically or emotionally),a drug addict or alcoholic etc) I am trying to help women that have a decent partner but just need a little help to enhance that relationship. Every woman deserves to be respected and cherished!! OK ladies- I'm off for tonight because my daughter has dance competition tomorrow and I have to get up at 5AM (on a Sunday :-( LOL. I think I am more nervous than her and I am not even the one dancing

Here are the links that I promised :-)

Fighting fair in relationships

What is a good relationship

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