Relationship stages follow a predictable developmental process. It is important to remember that whether or not the relationship fully develops depends on the investment of each partner - it doesn't "just happen". In fact, most relationships don't make it to the final stage and very few make it to the third stage. According to divorce statistics less than half make it out of the second stage. Healthy Relationships take work.
Human growth and development occurs in stages - We refer to them as developmental stages. There are developmental stages for every important aspects of being human:
We use these stages as a compass to mark where we are in the process of growth. We can also have some idea of what to expect... or what's "normal" in a healthy relationship for a specific stage of growth. You may be interested to know that each of the developmental processes listed above fit into stages of one specific, predictable, and recurring developmental process... They are "stages-within-stages" if you will. These higher-level stages are:
Below is a chart summarizing how these developmental processes fit together... Each period of life represents the degree of separation one is able to establish... each developmental period is also an opportunity to rework separation issues from the previous period.
If a child is not allowed to establish enough separateness by the end of the infancy period it sets the stage for unhealthy codependency in all the other stages. If a child is not allowed to establish enough separation by the end of the toddler stage it can lead to problems with unhealthy counter-dependency in all the other stages.
Externalizer is another term for unhealthy Counter-dependent.
Internalizer is another term for unhealthy Codependent.
John Bradshaw outlines four general of a long-term, healthy relationship stages...
Since the feelings are so strong there is a tendency to idealize the other person because "no one else can make me feel this way". There is peace and harmony because your new mate "can do no wrong." But eventually the chemical bath subsides - usually in three to six months - it paves the way for disillusionment and conflict...
The fighting in this stage is healthy counter-dependency... It's healthy because it helps us to separate a bit from the over-connectedness of courtship. Major life changes always bring on extra stress...even good changes. When we are under ongoing stress the "fight-or-flight" response can be triggered easily and often.
If we are aware that this relationship stage is normal it's much easier to work through. If we are unaware, then we might wake up one morning and say..."Oh...migod! What have I gotten myself into!" (isn't it interesting how we automatically want to pray when we're in trouble!)
In this relationship stage, we have gathered a list of negative things about our partner that we "never noticed before". It's a good time to remember this statement..."Whoever you are in a relationship with says as much about you as it does them."
I mean this as a reminder of what I refer to as the subconscious synchronization of compatible neural networks... When we "click" with someone it is because our "Love Maps" mesh with each other on a conscious AND a subconscious level. (By the way, if you were aware of that it wouldn't be subconscious)
Longevity is no guarantee that a couple can achieve intimacy... there have been many people married for 25 or more years who never really knew one another. If you have grown up in a less-than-nurturing home then you may have trouble with this one. You must have access to your True-Self before you can share it with another. It may help to read all four parts of the "Iceberg" if you cannot fully answer the question... "who are you?"
Thawing Toxic Relationships, is a book about healing and learning to co-create healthy relationships for those who learned toxic relationship dynamics in a dysfunctional family. If you relate to this website and would like to have a genuinely happy and functional relationship then this is the book for you!
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