Why the Love is Gone in Your Marriage…and Why It’s Not Your Fault

Relationships might seem like a mystery, but they actually have a very predictable pattern. Why does that matter? Well, when you know the pattern, it makes it easier to adjust to changes that are inevitable coming your way. Ever wonder why the passion faded in your marriage? Well, it happens to all of us, but many couples get frustrated and think there is something wrong. Then problems begin.

When the intensity of first love wears away, and your partner seems less exciting and a bit more irritating, rest assured that it happens to all of us. After about two years, what used to excite us about your partners now irritates us. What was once an admirable trait is now an annoyance. People out of the know (most of us!) wonder – Where has the love gone? Why don’t I feel the same way about my partner anymore? Sound familiar?

The truth is, that first intensity of love is supposed to dissipate – it’s Mother Nature’s way. But why? Well, think about it. If you were enamored for the rest of your life as you were the first week of meeting your mate, would you get anything done? Probably not.

It’s back to business when first love fades away. This may sound depressing, but it’s the way we are created, and this pattern makes room for self-development and a closer relationship with others. When we take the intense focus off of our infatuation, we can start to grow again and challenge one another. After all, it is long term love that sustains us and helps us lean on one another through trouble times. It is long term love that helps us raise healthy and happy children. It is long term love that helps us function as a couple.

When we are aware of the natural stages of love, it is easier to manage the ups and downs…and the disappointments. It takes the mystery out of “why don’t I feel the same way anymore? ” So let’s get started. What are the stages of your relationship, and why are they important to understand?

Stage 1: Bliss

In this stage, we are completely enamored with our loved one. They can do nothing wrong, and everything they do is wonderful. This is romantic love – short-term intimacy – our gift from Mother Nature. It lasts up to two years. This love bonds us sexually and intimately throughout the complications of life and the ups and downs of everything around us. Nothing matters but the beloved – we are totally tuned in to one another. Then it’s over and we move to Stage 2…

Stage 2: Power Struggle

In this stage, we step back into our individual roles and start to look at our partner in a more realistic way. What we once thought was endearing, might now be annoying. You might have fallen in love with your spouse’s sense of adventure, but now his restlessness is annoying you. This is the stage where we work on accepting our partners with all their flaws, and this is the stage where we start working on ourselves. This is the stage of realization that we are each imperfect beings. In this stage, we struggle with communication. We have to learn how to communicate with one another in a clear way. In this stage, all of our family of origin baggage comes to the surface to haunt us. Suddenly, you might feel criticized by your partner as you did by your mother. In this stage, conflict is common. However, throughout the conflict, growth and personal development is what should be accomplished – this doesn’t always happen, but you should be working toward a cohesive relationship by resolving power struggles in this stage.

Stage 3: Cohesiveness

This is the place you want to get! In this stage, you are aware of your personal struggles and your partners’ personal struggles. You know how to talk to your partner about your problems and you know how to listen to your partner’s side of the story. You develop a productive back-and-forth communication, and therefore, you both grow to be better people just be being together. You develop a sense of self that is more self-aware, and thereby, you function better with everyone around you. In this stage, you are truly a truly better person for being with your spouse (how cool, right?), and, just as you challenge your spouse, your spouse challenges you back to become better and better each day.

So here’s the lesson – a truly good relationship should challenge you to become more self-aware and to become even better than you were yesterday. When you enter Stage 3: Cohesion, you are truly in a relationship with your soul-mate.

Unfortunately, many of us do not get there. We either stay in Stage 2, fighting over the same thing again and again OR quit after Stage 2 with our current partner and move on back to Stage 1 with someone else. Unfortunately, the cycle of going from Stage 1 to Stage 2 and quitting again repeats over and over – remember that Stage 1 always disappears. Then the Power Struggle gets us ever time, and we think we just haven’t found the right mate yet. Of course, the other decision is not appealing either…we stay in Stage 2 with our current partner and we continue to power struggle or we pull apart and live separate lives. Mates become roommates, and the love dissipates. Yikes!

So first thing’s first – understanding…by understanding the three stages of a relationship, you can better equip yourself to take on natural relationship challenges and live through discomforts together as a team. If you find that you have been in the power struggle for far too long, seek outside help to pull you through (FREE HELP here). Your relationship CAN be repaired if you so choose. You may choose to move on. That’s okay too, but just understand that Stage 1 and Stage 2 will need to be walked through before you can successfully enter Stage 3 with anyone.