Oh Yes! Sparks… chemistry… heaven and more….
When two individuals agree, they could engage in committed relationship. As they take time to have fun together, know each other further, the relationship progresses. It goes through stages distinct from the other.
If you are introspective, observe that you, your partner and your relationship, things gradually happen between both of you because they are what they are and it is a normal process..
Level 1. THE ROMANTIC STAGE
The Shakespearian fantasy, crazy head-over-heels, the surge of drowning feeling and cant-get-enough-of -each other. Trying to impress one another. Both have a high degree of passion and expressive of the overflowing romance. Both are in constant bliss and infatuation. Both parties perceive that, “we are a good match”, “S/he is the one for me”, or “You are perfect”. The feeling of effort is less. The intensity of the wanting enables the person to carry out like almost anything. There is the belief and expectation that they are could never argue and the feelings and experiences could go on forever, and that somehow fate have brought them together. This stage lasts from 6 months to 2 years. This is the shortest stage among the stages of long-term committed relationship.
Level 2. ADJUSTING TO REALITY
Yes, realty bites. As people become comfortable with each other, individual habits and routine begin to emerge. Romance starts to wear out. Some triggers are when they are trying to share something such as time, things, projects, living in together, finances, or planning the wedding. Differences that were hidden become more notable. Usually, after a conflict, couples may learn from it positively how to work with each other or they may have a hard time believing the fantasies in the romantic stage.
The feeling of bliss and infatuation in the romantic stage is replaced with disillusionment, disappointment and hurt. There is a general thinking that the person is not the one that can keep hopes up, or not as what they thought the person was. It is common that one feels being cheated or ripped off from the wonderful experience. Closeness may diminish. There is the desire to be close again but there is fear of being frustrated and hurt. Confusion begin to rise and doubts for each other begin to emerge.
WHAT TO DO:
Couples need to realize individual differences and the effect of one’s action towards the other. They need to respect to differences, manage them and integrate their differences with their being as an individual in the relationship.
Bottomline is, Adjusting to Reality is where the REAL relationship begins.
Level 3. POWER ASSERTION
When conflict begins, who talks and who listens? What to believe and who to believe? Who submits? Who steers the discussion? Adjusting to reality could be fierce. The relationship starts to get bitter and rough. Both individuals struggle their own voice – struggle to be heard, and to be understood. Each one begins to defend their territories. The used-to-be all-tender loving, romantic and caring relationship has transformed into a battleground. Anger, hostility, fear of giving in and ambivalence are felt in both individuals. Both have their deep-seated disappointments, frustrations and resentments. Both have their thoughts of leaving the relationship.
WHAT TO DO:
When couples are strong enough, their relationship doesn’t have to end. Couples need to work out on managing their individual thoughts and emotions, their dialogue, negotiation and problem-solving skills. Couples need to learn how to listen to each other, compromise and support. Couples may need not agree on something but may learn how to respect their differences and position. Criticizing each other might not always help in this stage. Attacking and coercing to some ideas might agitate the other. Presenting preferences and letting the other person understand one’s preference, invites the partner to better understand and to connect. Couples need to understand each other in less threatening and intimidating activities. Make positive activities to evoke comfort and security with each other. Couples need to support each other even if it takes compromising their own wants.
Level 4. RE-EVALUATION
For after every storm, there comes calm. Couples will eventually realize that power struggle is tedious and would lead to a halt. Couples may decide to end or continue their relationship. Instead of looking forward to launching fantasies, this stage takes note of the realities of pains and fears of the relationship. Is this the person i used to know? From what I know about this person, do I still want to continue?, Knowing the person’s limitations, am i willing to accept it?
Most of the time, each person veers outward to resolve their issues. Fears of neglect,and/or betrayal are deeply loaded in this stage. Feelings toward each other could be flat and/or empty. This stage is vulnerable to an affair. Oftentimes, the person will disclose to the opposite sex. Continued disclosure with the confidante builds up more value in the person’s life. They will most likely to get emotionally involved without them consciously knowing it, out of their neediness and vulnerability.
If couples continue, they move on to a more conscious state of their fears, aspirations and commitment for each other. They need to be present for each other and honor their commitment. They need to develop individually and see their partner as a separate person for the relationship to survive.
If the relationship survives, there is the re-awakening of interest and the desire to get closer and reconnect. From the separatedness of the Re-evaluation, the person has come to realize that, not in fantasy but in reality, that there is the wanting to try again. There is open acceptance of the individual differences of the relationship. They now come to realize that the differences are real and will not go away. In this stage, there is a deeper sense of taking ownership of their roles in contributing growth and conflicts in the relationship. They admit their faults and limitations.
Constant communication and coordination with each other’s activities would help bring back trust and confidence to commit with each other.