Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How the hell did we end up here?

The secret to a successful marriage is partnership, but how do you achieve it? 

It is shocking how quickly a long-term relationship can fall apart.  I have seen 20 year marriages disintegrate and divorce within months, leaving everyone in tatters, unable to make sense of how things fell apart so fast.

Relationship coaching has helped an increasing number of 'silver wedding couples' recognise that problems that are surfacing now actually started much earlier in their relationship.  It is inevitable that a relationship will change over time, but whether it grows and evolves depends on your willingness to address issues as they arise.

Unless we evolve our emotional intelligence and learn new methods to communicate and process our experiences, unresolved issues increase the stress in the relationship until something drastic happens - like someone leaves or has an affair.  Sometimes, frightened of having to address the issues, both partners just withdraw, disregard their emotions and settle for a safe but dull co-existence. No passion, no connection, no fun.

All relationships go through changes, understanding the stages of the process means you have a better chance of handling the changes successfully.

The Stages of Relationship:

This powerful phase lasts anywhere from 6 - 18 months.  It feels like you have found the person who completes you.  Brain scans have discovered that the huge levels of  dopamine flooding the brain at this stage creating a brain state similar to that of addiction. You feel inspired, powerful, motivated and ready to conquer the world. It feels so great you want to hold on to it for as long as possible, not realising you have mistaken the addiction for the relationship.   Being convinced this is the true version of the relationship prevents you moving on easily to a deeper level of the relationship.

The Romance phase actually reveals the potential of the relationship and, more importantly, provides you with the love and bonding we need to handle the next phase of growth. 

The Inevitable Power Struggle
That's right, it is inevitable and those who are utterly addicted to the Romance phase come unstuck here, but this is actually the growing edge of the relationship.  

As the Romance settles down and a couple get to know one another, deeper more sub-conscious patterns start to arise. Suddenly, your strong silent hunk seems a little distant, cool and disinterested - just like your father.  The woman you admired for being so organised and switched-on now seems to be trying to control you, just like your mother did.  The charming, chaotic darling is suddenly irritatingly disorganised and always late, making you feel as anxious and insecure as you did in childhood. 

It may seem like your partner is the problem, but the real problem lies in your inability to process the feelings being triggered in you. As the relationship moves on - often with the added strain of children, mortgages and greater responsibilities -  your emotions don't keep up and the sparkle goes out of the relationship along with those heady, glittering carefree early days.

Dead Zone

This is where you end up when you're unwilling to bridge the distance that started during the Power Struggle.  Most relationships die here and if you want to get out of here with the relationship intact its vital to start doing some 'emotional archeology' - going beneath the surface and exploring the emotions that have been buried.

Ironically, the Dead Zone is often a place where there is also a great deal of success.  From the outside things can look good; great life, lovely family, comfortable home.  You might question why you feel so unhappy when you have everything you could wish for, but without connection the spark goes out and the relationship feels stifling.  

Choice Point.  This is a crucial stage in any relationship and is actually a point that we visit many times. We always have a choice; either to ignore the signs that something is wrong or to become emotionally courageous and face your vulnerability. People often talk about their fear of opening a can of worms, but I say the  worms are already out and eating up the relationship.  Ignoring the issues and distancing yourself from emotions means distancing yourself from the people you love too. 

It is time to take an emotional risk here and change the way you relate to your world.  There are 5 things that can turn things around: commitment, communication, creativity, appreciation and forgiveness.  Introducing these principles on a daily basis will to lead you to a revolutionary stage of relationship...

Partnership: Opening up vulnerability and learning to communicate more honestly builds greater intimacy and connection in the relationship.

In Partnership you see your relationship, and your partner, differently.  Suddenly they become part of your journey of self-discovery, growth and development  where love, creativity and prosperity can blossom.  You become a role model to your children as you model commitment by working through difficulties and disagreements with emotional courage and improved communication skills. 

The rewards  of Partnership  are that you realise the potential that was promised in the earlier Romance stage.  Taking an emotional risk, opening your heart and reconnecting first with yourself and then with your partner opens the door to true intimacy..

Ready to make a fresh choice and escape the Dead Zone? 

You can book Individual and/or Couples' coaching sessions by contacting or 07789 408378.

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