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A Couple’s Journey

Excerpt from LOVING PROMISES: The Master Class For Creating Magnificent Relationship

I had previously referred to a couple’s long-term relationship as a journey. In many ways, this is a useful comparison. Being in love is an adventure, an ongoing voyage of discovery. Over time, each partner learns about their mate, themselves, and the process of living with and loving another person.

Typically, as couples grow together and become more comfortable and committed, their relationship will mature and they will progress through a series of stages. Each stage of a couple’s journey presents new challenges to be encountered, new tasks to be accomplished, new learnings to be absorbed. Once the tasks of one stage are achieved, the opportunity to move on to the next stage comes into view. I think it would be useful for you to become familiar with the stages so you might get a preview of the form a relationship could possibly take as it develops.


New love is exciting, romantic. Holding hands, the first kiss, surprise gifts, confessing love. So many new things to learn as this stranger begins to become familiar. Both are on their best behavior. Neither person is aware of or will tend to minimize the other’s defects. Egos bask in the warmth of being loved.


Reality sets in as partners relax and allow more of their real selves to come out. He’s a bit of a slob, she’s is sometimes lazy, he flies into rages when frustrated, she talks on the phone for hours with her girlfriends. The excitement has begun to wear off. Annoyance and resentment start to grow.

Power Struggle

Partners express their dissatisfaction with each other's supposed defects and try to get the other to change. They will try reasoning, arguing, criticizing, manipulating…anything to get him to clean up after himself or get her off the phone. It's also about competition. Who will win, who will lose, who will be in control?


The power struggle is upsetting. It's unstable. Often couples settle control issues and negotiate a peace treaty, eventually becoming resigned to parts of their mate they don't accept. They are willing to “live with” their mate’s imperfections. For the most part, the couple is happy enough and is getting most of their needs met. While things may not be fabulous, they are certainly good enough. This stage can last for a long time and most couples remain content in this non-demanding, relatively comfortable, and peaceable stage. This is what many people would call a “good relationship.”

Conscious Commitment

The couple in this stage is not satisfied with a “good enough” relationship. They want their union to be great. They are willing to do what they can, as individuals and as a couple, to further their own and their partner’s physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual unfolding. They make mutual fulfillment a central goal in their relationship.


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