With a few exceptions, an ecstatic clinch marks the end of most romantic movies and reality TV dating shows. The implication is, the couple lives happily ever after.
But that is fantasy of course!
TV's "true love" pairs usually break up within months!
We may like to dream that relationships are fixed at their most joyous state, but we know better.
Relationships are not static, frozen-in-time unions...
They are living,, breathing organisms, reacting through the days and years
to the outside world and their own internal dynamics.
Relationships are tested constantly.
We are well aware of the trials caused by accidental or intentional cruelties such as illness or infidelity.
What new science is teaching us that long term relationships go through stages and that within each are critical transitions that shake every couple, even the most secure and serene.
The first stage, Spellbound Phase. Two people become infatuated and increasing obsessed with each other.
When the two shift into a more explicit dependency and commitment, they enter the first stage of a relationship called Formal Bonding. This typically occurs between one and two years into dating.
The next stage, Parenthood, centers around the appearance of a couple's first child This is an especially hard time for women, many of whom become deeply unhappy and even clinically depressed.
A couple enters the the later stage, Mature Love, usually when the last child is ready to leave home. Another stress, retirement by one partner, may occur at the same time or later.
These are crucial transitions; partners' live change dramatically and unpredictably as new challenges arise and different needs come to the foreground. The smooth, know path suddenly becomes uneven and strange.
While lovers may experience intense joy, pride, and excitement, they also grapple with massive stress and uncertainty. A couple often falters at such times. The usual explanation is that the general strain of these life transitions has proven too much.
These relationship shifts are actually potential bonding crises in which our need for connection and the nature of our bond is the core issue. The bond has to be reshaped and renewed, or it may break under the weight of the new reality and both partner's changed expectations.
The more we understand these stages, and shift points and the relationship needs that arise from them, the more equipped we are to deal with them.
Love Sense ~ Sue Johnson