Relationships can be understood through stages. Each of these stages may be unique for each couple, but they have common similar themes. The themes and actions in these stage can help us determine if our relationship is just going through a “normal” stage or if something is seriously going wrong. It is normal to have resistance in certain stages.
1. The Honeymoon Stage: This is the infatuation stage. The dopamine in our brain is increased during this time and it is easy for us to ignore all the little things we might not enjoy about someone. We are smitten and determined to make this relationship work.
2. The Toilet Seat Up Stage: This is the stage where reality sets in. The dopamine levels have come back down and we are aware of the little things that we dislike about our partner. The “toilet seat is up” (or anything that bothers us) has become a common theme for arguments. We are easily irritated as we try to get used to someone new.
3. The Suggestion Box Stage: This is the stage in which couples want to put their expectations on one another. They use it less as a suggestion box and more as a way to try to turn the person they met into the person they think they need. Irritation has subsided and we feel comfortable enough to voice our opinion on this person. Voicing our opinion is important, but we must do it in a loving and appropriate manner.
How to Get Through Stages 2 and 3:
- Keep your attitude in check. Don’t let little things bother you. Learn what you will and will not compromise on with this partner.
- Be mindful to include the other partner in your decisions.
- Take time with your friends and time away from your partner.
- Keep your hobbies, so you don’t resent someone else after the honeymoon stage. You are responsible for your actions.
- Communicate with words that will not harm the other person. Try to be calm.
- Be self-reflective during this time, other than finding flaws in others.
4. The Rainbow Stage: This is the stage where you realize that you can not change the other person. When you can learn to let go and just roll with the punches, life will flow as smooth or as rocky as you want to make it. The two middle stages may bring storms and rain, but if you can get through those on an equal playing field you will see the rainbow after the rain.
5. The Never-Ending Stage: This is the last stage in a relationship. It will never end. Relationships that survive trials have two people who are always diligently working at the relationship. You may marry, you may have kids, you may have job loses, moves, careers, and the list goes on and on. Relationships take work and dedication, but you get back as much as you give. Don’t let the rough stages discourage you. A lot of what you feel after the honeymoon stage is normal.