Every romantic relationship evolves according to stages that have been very well analyzed by psychologists: love, passion, the struggle for power, the sharing of power, commitment, and openness to others.
During the seduction that culminates in the passion phase, the first step in the relationship, you are not yet sure that the relationship is well established; men and women then show themselves on their best day to seduce and conquer each other. It is during this phase that men are the most communicative and the most attentive: they look after their image and are interested in everything you say; they only have eyes for you and compliment you constantly. It is during this phase that the woman looks and listens to the man with the greatest admiration: she is always ready to stick and to make love with you, as often as you wish; she never criticizes you and is ready to follow you in all your projects.
At the same time, you will lure the coveted person: it is your soul mate, your prince, your princess and the love you feel for each other will overcome all the trials. You spend your nights chatting and making and making love again. You can not do without one another: you are madly in love, perhaps for the very first time in your life. This is the phase we would like to take forever.
Biochemists have shown that during this phase, the human brain produces a hormone called phenylethylamine. It is this hormone that is responsible for the euphoric states one experiences when one is in love. This hormone would have the same effects as cocaine. If the desired person leaves you during this period, it is the lack, the pain of love. If you are a phenylethylamine drug addict, it is you who will leave when you feel that passion is decreasing to find elsewhere a new flame that will restimulate the production of phenylethylamine. You will go from passion to passion, incapable of true engagement in love.
On the other hand, if you accept the drop in passion, your brain will replace the production of phenylethylamine by the production of endorphins, which have the same properties as morphine. You will live than days of calm happiness: you will be able to sleep in peace, in silence, in the arms of one another. You will never have been so good, so in harmony with your whole life. Your couple will fill you.
Alas, the passion … pass! In fact, during the passion phase, you were not really in love with the other person; you were in love with the sensations that your idea of ??the other person caused in your body and your head. You have ignored all its little faults; you have seen and heard only what was your business; you have put aside all that could dull your passion. And you are married, or, as the Spaniards say, you have “put yourself in a house” (casarse); you started to live together.
The struggle for power
But now your body and your head have become accustomed to the effects of phenylethylamine and endorphins. You are always happy, happy, but the intensity of your happiness has diminished and you are gradually returning to earth. Surprised, you realize that your prince charming behaves sometimes like a toad, that your charming princess comes out more and more regularly his claws and fangs. You make contact with the real person with whom you are in relationship.
You enter the second phase of your relationship: the struggle for power. The anxiety and insecurity of seduction and passion forced you to show yourself in your best light; the security of your happiness and the certainty that the other person loves you allow you to let yourself go and show you in your true light. You no longer pretend you are yourself and you start to say and even demand what you expect from your relationship. You already said it, but the other admired you and he (she) did not really hear what you said. If it’s true that love is blind, it also makes you deaf.
It is then that you realize that the other does not quite share your views on leisure, money, choice of home, division of household chores, number and education of children, friends, the frequency of sex, the type and location of your vacation, the choice of movies … in fact, the way to love and invest in the couple.
You realize that he is focusing on his career, whereas you would like him to take more care of the family. You realize she wants to make love, but in her own way. You are meticulous, he leaves everything lying around. You love tight arguments, she puts emotion everywhere. You like big family gatherings, he prefers to go hunting or fishing with his friends. You like to read your newspaper in the morning, it always has something to reproach you for. You like teleromans; he prefers sports programs. He plans a retreat in the south; you would prefer to be near your grandchildren. And so on.
This struggle for power is inevitable and even necessary. It is this struggle that makes it possible to know who we are dealing with and that enables us to affirm our needs and expectations in the face of the couple. This struggle leads the two partners to be in relation to each other. Unfortunately, the majority of couples get bogged down in this fight and engage in dead ends:
- “It’s you who started! ” ” No it’s you! “
- “If you also listened to me when I spoke to you. “
- “You and your damn family! You are all the same. “
- “If you stopped criticizing for change. “
- “If you do not always put everything back to tomorrow. “
- “If you picked yourself up, too. “
- “If you made a man (a woman) of you. “
- “What did I do to God to meet you? “
- “It looks like you’re doing it on purpose. “
- ” I told you so. “
- “You (talking about children) always let them go to their heads. “
- “You just have to take care of it a little more (children). “
- “You always want to be right.”
- “Anyway, you will never understand anything.”
- “Well, here we go again! “
- “That’s it, go away! “
These words are familiar to you. Do not worry, you are normal. Our two intimate and passionate lovers become, during this phase, two intimate enemies. Both love each other and want to continue to love each other, but the friction is more and more numerous. These frictions are due to the differences existing between men and women, to the differences existing between this particular man and this particular woman; they are also due to our frustrated expectations of the life of a couple and the paradox of passion, ie the coexistence of the need for passionate fusion and the need for autonomy.
At this point, the future of the couple is at stake. More than half of the couples will divorce and many will repeat the same dynamic with a new partner. Thirty percent of couples will resign themselves, develop an unbalanced relationship, have a war interrupted by periods of a lull (a surge of phenylethylamine production) and seek compensation in work, family or elsewhere. Barely 20% of couples will succeed in transforming this inevitable struggle for power into power-sharing, the third stage of a couple’s life.
The sharing of power
To understand the dynamics of the couple, let’s compare it to a day. A day consists of a day and a night whose duration varies according to the seasons. The day is filled with light and activities. The night is filled with darkness and rest. At dawn and dusk, day and night meet. These two periods are filled with harmony and peace: it is neither day nor night; he does not sell; the birds no longer sing; time is suspended. As we can see, day and night complement each other to form the day, as Yin and Yang do to form the Tao.
Man possesses faculties that are unique to him and a way of thinking about life and the couple; the woman has faculties that are unique to her and a way of thinking about life and the couple. The woman can fulfill functions (pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, seduction, relational concerns, receptivity, capacity for symbiotic relationship) that man can not fulfill or even understand. Man possesses abilities (physical strength, material creativity, competitive spirit, intrusiveness, hunter instinct, need for independence) that the woman can not match or even understand. One can not ask the man to perform the feminine functions and vice versa, just as one can not ask the night to fulfill the functions of the day and vice-versa. The two can only be asked to complete each other to form a whole. The woman can not ask the man to vibrate symbiotically with her as she can with her fetus; man can not expect his wife to “embark” on his activities as he can live with his friends or associates. These two expectations are illusions among so many others.
In the sharing of power, the one and the other, after having taken knowledge of the individual peculiarities of this man and this woman, agree to use these peculiarities, different and sometimes contradictory, to form their couple. One and the other do not seek to transform the other to meet his own expectations; both do not accuse each other of being responsible for the frustration of his adolescent illusions with the couple. The two realize that they are lovers and intimate enemies (there will always be differences even in the happiest couples), but the two now emphasize intimacy and the personal, albeit different, the contribution of everyone in this unique couple. Both exploit the qualities of the other for the benefit of the couple (and the family). Both share the power they now transfer to the couple, understanding that only the couple, not the other, can satisfy everyone’s needs.
One of the main clues showing that the couple shared power and that he is ready to enter the fourth phase of his evolution is that it has now become easier for him to repeat “I love you”. During the struggle for power, “I love you” was often suffocated by “I hate you”. During this phase, saying “I love you” meant giving more power to the other. The “I love you” of the third phase no longer has the same meaning as the “I would eat you” of fusional passion. It means “I am committed”
“I now know your faults and your qualities, your strengths, and your weaknesses, and I accept them, even if sometimes …”
“You are no longer the beautiful and charming princess I had dreamed of, you are no longer the Prince Charming, and with my reveries, your body has even stood the test of time, but I am so good with you. “
“I know a little better your needs and your expectations of us and I pledge to do everything to satisfy them; we know very well that I will not succeed, but I know you will appreciate my efforts. “
“I do not want to change you anymore, I accept you as you are. “
“You’re not the ideal partner, I could have lived with someone else, but I’m happy with the way we have traveled and I want to continue growing old with this Us.”
The “I love you” of the fourth phase actually means “I love you”. The two lovers have become real accomplices. It is at this stage that one should contract marriage and not at the moment of blinding passion.