What happened to the ‘in love’ feeling?
When Tuakana and Samantha first got together their love seemed perfect and never ending. The conflict that had started to happen was leaving them both hurt and unhappy.
According to Gottman (2014), relationships transition through natural, yet complex
stages. The first stage is ‘falling in love’.
Stage One: Falling in love
In the falling in love phase, a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters is set off when we encounter someone who smells right, looks right and feels right (Crenshaw, 1997).
We experience symptoms such as a sense of elation and intrusive thinking (Gottman, 2014).
The ‘falling in love’ phase is also a time where we typically ignore or justify undesirable behaviours. The ‘falling in love’ phase does not last forever. This is a normal relationship transition. The relationship then transitions to stage two.
Stage Two: The Working Relationship
The ‘’working relationship stage’’ is where we do the relationship work that builds a robust relationship. Conflict can be a simple signal that we are entering the working relationship stage.
This normal transition can be a surprise to us. This stage of the relationship can be successfully navigated when we have good communication tools, and are able to use them to resolve the inevitable conflict.
When we understand that this is a normal relationship transition, we are more able to understand that successfully navigating this stage can build a robust relationship.
A robust relationship will help us plan for life transitions, and manage the surprises that can’t be planned for.
Stage Three: A Deeper Love
The third stage is about creating a deeper, ‘lifetime-and-beyond’ love. It is about nurturing each other and fostering an environment of gratitude. This committed stage of the relationship becomes possible through awareness of relationship elements that make deeper love more predictable.
One element is fostering equality around power distribution, so each person feels empowered in the relationship, and feels comfortable empowering others.
Another element is using communication tools, along with awareness of love-languages, to intentionally maintain a five to one balance of positive to negative interactions. A regular relationship inventory can help us review these elements, and plan to enjoy a lifetime of deeper love.
If you would like support in creating a deeper life-time love, please contact Jenny.
Crenshaw, T. (1996). The Alchemy of Love and Lust. New York: Crenshaw Writing Company, Inc.
Gottman, J. (2014, November 19). The 3 Phases of Love. Retrieved from The Gottman Institute: gottman.com/blog/the-3-