You are probably in phase two and that is normal!
What happened to my wonderful romantic relationship? What are we not getting on anymore?
There is a reason for why there are more frustrations, hurt and pain in your relationship now…
Relationships typically go through a number of phases. We all know about the ‘honeymoon phase ‘ where everything feels wonderful, as if you have known your partner forever. It feels as if your needs are being met and that this person just gets me fully. During this phase your brain is literally releasing a number of good feel chemicals. It is like being on a high…cloud nine.
Then it all changes! Somewhere between a few months and two or so years later you may find that the relationship does not feel the same. It is as if your partner has changed. “You’re so different! What happened to you?” might be examples of typical thoughts and feelings. Not only that, it now feels like a very painful place to be. Feelings might include hurt, disappointment and anger.
This is the next phase that all relationships go through and is known as the ‘power struggle’. It is a very painful place to be where there may be much more conflict, disagreement, withdrawal and a real struggle to re-connect with each other. So painful that you might find yourself coping in either one of two main ways. Some partners ‘withdraw’ their energy and perhaps go quiet, avoid confrontation by keeping busy, working longer hours or anything else that avoids dealing with the issues in the relationship. A bit like a tortoise that does not feel safe might retreat into their shell. Some others may ‘expand’ their energy by becoming louder, shouting, getting angry and demanding. A bit like a tiger that feels threatened and goes on the attack.
The problem is that the more the tiger goes on the attack, the more the tortoise retreats. The more the tortoise retreats the more the tiger gets frustrated and knocks on the tortoises shell with the result that the tortoise retreats even further! Sound familiar?
Guess what? Its normal! Conflict is growth trying to happen. It is a bit like a butterfly trying to struggle out of its cocoon. It is a normal and necessary part of the butterfly’s progress and this too happens in our relationships. The bad news is that this pattern is normal. The good news is that it doesn’t have to stay this way.
If the couple are willing to embark on a journey of mutual respect, commitment, understanding, support and joy then it is possible to move through the ‘power struggle’ phase to the next phase of ‘mature love’. Fortunately we can learn the skills and knowledge necessary to repair and re-connect with each other after there has been a rupture in the relationship. One can learn to stay in connection with your partner during conflict which allows growth and healing to happen. It is possible to learn how to share without shaming, blaming and criticising. It is also possible to learn how to listen non-defensively in order not to take things personally.
If you can learn how to love in this new way then you are on the journey toward a more committed, conscious and joyful relationship where conflict is seen as an opportunity for growth and closeness.
If you are struggling with frustrations in your relationship then Imago relationship can make a significant difference. Be in touch to discuss how couple counselling or marriage therapy in your area (Prestwich, Salford in North Manchester or Wilmslow, Didsbury, Hale and surrounding areas in South Manchester) can either save your relationship or make it significantly better.