It’s exciting to read from you and hearing that the relationship stages have been a bulb moment for many that are beginning to identify themselves with these stage. I have discussed Dream and Drama and now Discovery Stage. Relationships have dynamics, and interestingly each stage presents unique learning opportunities along with challenges and obstacles. A couple can, therefore, move through the stages several times in their lives, each time with better understanding of what is involved, having gone through the stage before.
Stage four – Discovery, Reconciliation
Couples can push through the previous stage through deepened communication, allowing vulnerability, honesty and trust to be their foundation. For most couples, the discovery happens after their tenth year of marriage. It is a comfortable place to be, yet still has it challenges. At this stage, couples discover and create a new sense of connection. They learn more about each other’s strengths and vulnerabilities. They also learn to identify and talk about their fears instead of acting them out. They don’t judge or blame their partner; instead, they translate their complaints into requests for change. They stop being critical and become more accommodative and work on winning strategies to move the relationship forward despite the challenges. They complement one another and accommodate their weaknesses without necessarily breaking sweat.
However, the downside at this stage is that there is not so much spark in their love life or conflict and the partners turn their attention outward, focusing on their children, work and other friendships. If they do not observe balance, they drift to their comfort zones and before they know it, they are living separate lives, getting on as if they were single.
James, in his frustration, had this to say: “Since my wife began to pursue her college education, she is either at school, catching up with her study partner or working on her assignments. She sleeps late and to her, it is as if I do not exist. She is always preoccupied with her books and simply has no time for the children or me. I am feeling neglected, lonely and concerned. We do not seem to have quality time any more.”
Many partners identify with James’ dilemma. It is important that partner’s are aware of their growing demands and structure their time together. It is easy for careers, education and children to eclipse a marriage. It is important to remember that jobs and children will not always be there and that it is your partner who will walk the journey of life with you until death do you part. So, do yourself a favour and navigate these stages with wisdom.
It is rewarding when partners navigate the discovery stage effectively. They view one another in a new light with increased empathy and compassion. They learn to appreciate and respect each other and not to take one another for granted. It is exciting and greatly fulfilling when partners find a balance and grow towards oneness as they enhance their intimacy levels, both individually and collectively. Their thinking becomes more expansive and inclusive. Renewed energies are experienced as they focus on gratitude and thanksgiving. Failure to accomplish the tasks of one stage can inhibit movement and growth through later stages.