Mature Love - Couples And Phases

Preliminary remarks: Human relationships, in couples as well as in work teams, for example, can go through various stages of development. These are not always as clearly delineated as described below and do not all have to be passed through. Moreover, they can be experienced in different sequences, one can also fall back to earlier stages and one can be in different stages at the same time, namely in different areas.

1. "Feeling-in-love-phase”

For the most part, one experiences oneself as 100% loved, respected and somehow nurtured by the other. "Only you...!" "I can't live without you!". The "Inner Children" experience, "Finally, I get the love I've always longed for!" Strictly speaking, they are more "Inner Infants/Babies” because at this time everything still seems to fit. One sees life only in “pink”. And other "colors", even dark ones, are not of interest, are adapted to one’s own ideals, are ignored, are “faded out”, e.g.: "He does drink a little, but he will get over it, or I will get him out of this habit!".

This time of being in love is immensely important - not only because it is experienced as particularly beautiful, but also because it shows what feelings everyone is capable of, what potential lies in oneself - and in the partnership! So this potential is there, it exists - and it is important to develop it later, when perhaps everything seems to be lost!

2. "Shrinking phase”

At some point, one slowly senses the "unevenness" that was hidden until now. The "inner child", the inner infants/babies, have now grown into adapted toddlers and become afraid that the wonderful harmony could come to an end and they now compensate for these "unevennesses". I.e. one withdraws, “takes a back seat”, without really noticing it, "arranges" oneself with the situation or "checks off" what doesn't seem so important. Mostly both partners do it, often unconsciously. And it happens in the most diverse areas of life: not meeting as many friends anymore, although one actually wishes to do so deep down, putting hobbies on hold, not telling one's mind clearly .....

This own "shrinking" is like an unconscious protective shield in order not to feel that the wonderful time of being in love is apparently no longer there. And it happens of course from positive intention, from love, in order not to endanger the relationship and the peace.

And this protecting, more or less slightly closing, has fatal side effects: on the one hand one holds back oneself increasingly more in its openness and love, on the other hand one can feel also positive things less, because: protective shield is protective shield!

And both is the creeping "death" of a relationship!

It is just as fatal that this happens gradually, so that one hardly notices that it has become too much.Often one “wakes up” then suddenly, mostly due to occasions, which seem to come from the outside:

Shortly before the transition to the next “phase” of the relationship (see below), various symptoms may appear, because the hidden feelings have become too strong, but one does not yet dare to talk about them with the partner (or one has still not been understood by the partner).

Such symptoms can be, for example:

Secrecy (for example an affair)

Psychosomatic reactions – because the body reacts to the inner tensions (to the own shrinking or to sensing: there is something in the air with the other person!); e.g. pain without physical findings (e.g. throat pain - actually it is the heart hurting in a figurative sense), or dizziness (because one suspects one's present life to be "dizzy")

Emerging addictions, e.g., food (unconsciously, e.g., "I don't get enough of the other!"), work (unconsciously, e.g., "At least here I feel valued.")

Symptoms in children:children are very sensitive to tensions and react unconsciously (!) by, for example: decline in performance at school, aggressiveness, stealing, .....Until you go to therapy "because of the children" and there perhaps get the opportunity to talk about your own issues as well; until the secrecy is exposed or until it becomes too much for you and you let it "explode". This is the next phase:

3. "Fight phase"

"That's enough! This can't go on!" The "inner child" in the "defiance phase" or the inner teenager in his rebellion wakes up and blames the other person for everything: what she or he has done wrong, why you have suffered so much, and so on. One polarizes oneself more and more. In this phase, the "inner children" sometimes fight against each other like for survival! If an outsider were to observe this, he would think: "This is so much like kindergarten!" Couples usually stay together because they still hope for changes (from the other!!). - If, on the other hand, the inner teenager is in command, most couples break up in this phase.

Unfortunately often hastily. Because many have not learned how to represent themselves constructively and instead only know either "harmony" or "war". And in this phase of struggle, they can hardly imagine that there could be any meaningful change, especially since it often feels like a fight for their own survival.

But countless couples have been able to experience a new beginning!

Because of one's own distress, one usually forgets here the basis of the relationship, the love - one's own, mind you. The love of the other person is often demanded, as if love is actionable/claimable: "If he/she would really love me, then wouldn’t he/she need to ...?!" But that just turns it on the other person.

And even if one should “win”, the “winner” is not really happy afterwards. Because one might have “won” against the other, but thus also against the relationship and against oneself - and therefore has also lost.

It can also be, of course, that oneself has "shrunk" too much in the previous "phase" and that all feelings in oneself have cooled down. Then many leave their partner, even though he or she may just be “waking up”. It has just been too late. (Although even cold feelings can warm up again).

4. “Negotiation phase”

The fighting subsides. "Adult" parts begin to work. One now sits down opposite each other and negotiates objectively.

Sometimes, however, it becomes almost business-like: "If you come home earlier in the evening, I'll make sure to have the kids in bed already and be there for you more." These are young people or young adults who are slowly becoming aware of their value(s). So, although one is no longer an adversary, one is still a "vis-à-vis". And seeks the way out in compromise.

Compromises are first steps, but they do not always help. Sometimes they are "lazy compromises" - one agrees, but rather half-heartedly, to have peace again. But then you are back in the "shrinking phase".

And in every compromise there is also a certain tension, because both make compromises and are therefore possibly not completely satisfied later. This tension can become apparent when one person does not keep his part of the compromise. Then the other one can also cancel his/her agreement and it can come to a fight again: "You didn't keep the agreement either!

5. "Mutual (!) salution phase" - mature love.

Here the way out is found on a higher level: in the connectedness in love as a starting point. One experiences oneself connected with each other and therefore seeks to reach satisfying goals together. The phase of mature adults begins, which is not found so often.

In the previous phase one was still standing opposite each other, i.e. on two points of view and each represented him-/herself. Now one stands next to each other on a common point, and each one represents both, one jointly considers/reflects/thinks for both. That means: one knows about the point of view of the other and also wants to find a solution for it with all one's heart, as if it were also one's own goal. So the starting point is now the common ground in the connection of the hearts, no longer only "I" (phase 2 and 3) or "you" (phase 1 and 2), but a real "we".

In short, a mature love loves without expectations, for example, without expecting love in return. It is therefore no longer "commercial/trading-calculating", (phase 4), whether an "investment" of love would still be worthwhile or not. Because: Love is love! - "The best relationship is the one in which each partner loves the other more than he needs him." (Dalai Lama).

This most mature form of relationship naturally needs both its time to develop and then to "nurture".


Do - preferably also together with your partner! - the self-test of your current situation:

Each person writes down intuitively for him/herself what percentage of the relationship, in his/her opinion, is currently allotted to each of the five “phases”. The sum must add up to 100% for everyone, of course.

Then compare your values with each other and talk about it! This can already lead to deeper partnership, especially if you talk openly about backgrounds of high percentages in the shrinking or fighting phase and look for ways together.

Most couples come to therapy, of course, because they are stuck in area 3 - fight. And there this scheme of experience can become a help for them: there is MORE! There is more than struggle, even more than compromise. There is also mature love to achieve.

Ausführlicheres zu diesem Artikel können Sie auch in meinen öffentlichen Vorträgen hören.

Das Urheberrecht des Artikels liegt bei Peter Bartning,
Ausschließlich für private Zwecke darf dieser Artikel – ganz oder in Auszügen – weitergegeben werden und nur unter der Bedingung, dass dann als Quelle mindestens mein Name und meine Webseite mit aufgeführt sind. Jede andere Verwendung, insbesondere berufliche oder gewerbliche, bedarf meiner vorherigen schriftlichen Genehmigung.
Nach oben