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Track One: What Happens When the Power Struggle is Over?  

Stage 5: Growth
It takes a lot of soul searching, self-discovery, and deepened communication to break out of the power struggle and move beyond it. It also takes redefining the relationship, firming up some of the relationship roles while loosening other roles. Through all of this, both partners must grow or the changes will simply not be adequate for the relationship to thrive. And those who are committed to their relationships do grow, no matter what may be required of them.

  • When it starts and how long it lasts:
  • Growth is an ongoing state of a relationship, but it will be more intense at some times than at others. After a power struggle, the couple will experience a "growth spurt" with a period of intense growth lasting from 6 months to a year or longer.
  • The joy:
  • The joy is in the results of the growth. The more each of you grows, the more intimacy you are able to share with one another. The more intimate you become, the more in love you become. The more love you feel for each other, the more joyful you become.
  • The stumbling block:
  • Growth can be terrifying and confusing. You may know what you need to change in your behavior, but you may be afraid to make the changes. Or you may have no idea how to make the changes. The same thing may apply to your partner.
  • What to do:
  • Find a way to grow -- both together and separately -- and infuse your relationship with new life. Think of this period as your second chance to create the relationship you have always wanted with a partner you have always wanted to be with.

Stage 6: The Second Honeymoon
It's not that there will never be hard work or hard times again, but you have reached a new stage in your relationship -- a stage where you cherish and treasure each other, appreciate the good, and accept the bad. You have bonded, connected, joined. Now this is what love is all about.

  • When it starts and how long it lasts:
  • This stage starts sometime after the power struggle is over and can be intermittent or ongoing. In the best possible scenario it will last until the end.
  • The joy:
  • It is almost all joy -- the joy of connection at a level you have either always dreamed about or could never imagine. It is a joy to share your life with your partner in a deep way.
  • The stumbling block: The stumbling block is that you don't expect your connection to be broken. It is solid yet flexible now and can allow for much stress and change. Yet, as you both are human, it will be broken at times.
  • What to do: Remember what brought you to this wonderful place and keep tending to your relationship by continuing to communicate and grow.

Stage 7: "The Child"
A "child" can be real children or it can be an idea, business, or passionate involvement on which both of you are focused. This can be as simple as the value you place on living your life as a couple, or as intricate as being involved in a cause or a political campaign. Or, of course, it can be parenthood with all of its complexities.

  • When it starts and how long it lasts:
  • Ideally the couple has life and blood child only when they are through the power struggling and are into the second honeymoon. But for many couples, this stage happens throughout the relationship.
  • The joy: The joy is in sharing a third entity you created together or are both passionate about. The joy is leaning and working together. The joy is also seeing different aspects of each other as you get passionately involved in the "other" entity.
  • The stumbling block: The stumbling block will be learning to work together and becoming a team. It can be hard to share responsibility. Often both partners will think their way of doing something is THE right way.
  • What to do: Joyfully embrace the "other" involvement. It will bring a deeper dimension to your relationship and bring you closer together. Learn to work together, negotiate, and compromise.


Stage 8: Life Crisis
Very few people live a charmed life without life crises. Whether it is a job or career change, or a move to a new city or country, whether forced or willingly chosen, change feels like life crisis. Whether it is declining health or a sudden illness of your spouse or another loved one, serious health issues can be life crises. If your property or your financial situation is threatened, dealing with and resolving the issues can feel like a life crisis. If you have far too many demands on you and not enough time or space to fulfill them, you may feel as if you are in a life crisis. What affects you deeply affects your relationship.

  • When it starts and how long it lasts:
  • Life crises can happen at any time, but hopefully can get handled in a timely manner and not overtake the relationship. Life crises can also happen more than once in the course of a relationship as the couple grows and develops and matures together.
  • The joy: If there is joy in life crisis it is that by now you should be able to mobilize quickly as a team to deal with whatever situation arises. Often there is also a deeper bonding that occurs in crisis -- and that can be a nourishing kind of joy as well.
  • The stumbling block: The nature of crisis is that there are many stumbling blocks, not the least of them being one or both partners being less available to the other for a time. This can be extreme, such as in an illness, or temporary and somewhat mild, such as in financial worries or starting a business. The difficult part is not having each other to always count upon just when you need each other most.
  • What to do: As much as possible, stay connected. And as much as possible, work on looking at the positive aspects of your life. Work on being grateful for all that is yours in spite of crisis. This will help you both to get through the crisis more positively.

Beyond Stage 8: Life Happens
What happens after your relationship has touched on all eight stages? Life happens to a more mature, seasoned, and hopefully happy and vibrant couple. You move together and separately through your life and know when you need to connect and when you need time apart. You know how to meet each other's needs and seek increasingly deeper connection. Your relationship is the rock, the wellspring of peace in your life.

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