So, in any relationship, how do you get from angst and frustration to accommodation, from conflict to resolution?
You set up realistic expectations of the relationship.
But that is not so easy because, in order to do this, you have to first adjust your own expectations of both the partnership and your partner. It means you have to stand back objectively and make changes in yourself to actually change what you expected that relationship to be, which is rather difficult. Next, you have to rebuild the spark that united you in the first place. When you recognise that you are just disillusioned, that you don’t really dislike your partner, you will also recognise that you need to rekindle the fire of attraction before it is all burned out between you. But rebuilding an acceptable relationship is not something you can do on your own, especially when the partner has ceased to be attractive or appealing in your eyes, or has rejected you emotionally and that valuable chemistry is missing.
The only way to start is to know what you both want and decide together to acknowledge mutual hurt and fears and then set realistic goals. That acknowledgement to potential hurt is crucial to moving on. Obviously, communication skills are very important here. Talk, listen, ask questions, clarify responses all are essential, but can be difficult if the other person does not want to reciprocate or finds it difficult to air their feelings. But, if the two people really want to continue with the relationship, talking and listening are keys to getting rid of the tension and acknowledging and accommodating each other’s viewpoint.
The alignment phase is considered to be the beginning of the best part of the relationship. Conflict resolution becomes the key to the rest of the union and the emphasis is on awareness of both parties’ needs, caring for each other and expressing and displaying love and commitment. Even real satisfaction in sex begins at this stage because the couple is likely to understand their emotional needs better in terms of quality rather than quantity, which is more important than just sex for its own sake. Studies have found that most couples have to be married about 15 years before their sex life becomes most satisfying.
Quality Time Together
This is the point, the resolution phase, when a truly happy and successful marriage is possible based on a more realistic footing. What matters most now is time together; spending time doing things you both enjoy and which add quality to your life. Next is treating each other with equality and respect, especially the realisation and acceptance that both partners are important to the union. No one is greater than the other, or anyone’s job more superior. You complement each other in everything you do because that’s the purpose of a partnership. Without both partners the relationship would not be there, so each partner deserves appropriate respect. But, if there is a problem with this aspect, it could be that you have to love and respect yourself first before you can actually reciprocate with someone else. Yet you may not have reached self-love because of low esteem caused by a lack of achievement, past unsuccessful relationships, personal fear and/or insecurity.
That is why this stage is strong on commitment and loyalty but low in expectation because of the bond already there, the care and allegiance of each partner to each other and the trust and faith which help the relationship to flourish. In such a committed union, which would have lasted for some time, each party gradually accepts personal boundaries not because they have to but because they actually wish to do so. It also seems the most natural thing to be loyal and loving to a partner of many years, even though keeping commitments of any kind is often difficult. When couples move to this stage of a relationship they will have spent a significant time together (perhaps 12-20 years) and wish to spend their future in each other’s company.
This is the stage in which you recognise not only that your relationship can rise to another level, but also that you have the power to make real changes. While one or both of you may continue to feel anxious, confused and afraid, and may resist making any changes, both now take charge of the direction of their happiness as partners. And that is done best by each taking responsibility for their individual behaviour. In this stage you gain new information and insights relating to yourself, your partner and the nature of the marriage or relationship. Issues of sharing, trust and mutual respect are taken for granted. This calmer phase also represents the end of the cycle of familiarisation because commitment is much more in evidence. Expectations have evolved to become less competitive and more compatible. Both parties seem to want the same things, though it might be in differing amounts or clothed in different shapes.