Have you ever wondered why love sometimes feels wonderful and sometimes it is one of your worst nightmares?
Sometimes I hear people say: Life is a song, I have discovered the love of my life! Sometimes people say: I tried hard, but I wasn’t made for a relationship. It doesn’t work for me!
Research shows that relationships move in a cycle.
All relationships start with the in-love phase. Being in love can either be an exuberant recognition, or it can just be a quiet homecoming. In this phase, the Imago starts in and binds two different people.
After committing, couples move on to the power struggle. The power struggle is the place you realize: We are not the same. You are different from me. Initially, it was a big shock, because, while being in love, you were convinced you are the same: the same dreams, ideals, love the same holidays, etc. But suddenly you realize we each have our own reality. One deals with conflict, with silence, and the other with noise. One thinks we should spend more time with friends, the other feels it should be just the two of us. In the power struggle, there is only one solution: You are wrong, and I am right. You are wrong. It then becomes a power struggle: Who is right and who is wrong? In the Imago theory, we see that the power struggle is necessary and normal. It is an intelligent process. (read more about this). The power struggle can be a silent decency or it can be intense fighting.
The power struggle couple then moves over to the survival phase. One suddenly realizes I’m not going to get you to be like me. What couples do then is make peace with the other’s silence or noise. They also make peace with their own pain as a result. How couples do this is they start breaking contact and living parallel to each other. What also happens in the survival phase is that the conversation, focus, and love of the relationship are moved away from each other to other people or things. You talk to the children more than to each other. The dog gets more love than your partner. You spend more time behind the television than with your partner. It can lead to addictions and also to extramarital relationships. All this leaves the relationship very empty. This is where people say the “spark” is gone or we even no longer love each other.
If the power struggle can be turned into dialogue, couples progress to the awareness phase. Through language, contact, security, and commitment, the marriage’s unconscious agenda of healing and growth can become conscious.
Couples who are conscious can then eventually do the work of marriage and move on into the transformation phase. Love is not interested in bringing people together just to be happy. Love brings together specific people to be whole. This is where the silent one can learn to speak again so that only one that feels lonely can feel loved again. This is where the chaotic one learns to calm down so that he feels trapped and can feel free and safe within contact. When these changes happen, the focus, conversation, and love come back into the relationship.
The relationship begins to come to life. The people (including our children) who live in the relationship feel loved, cared for, and alive again. Passion, curiosity, care, creativity, and intimacy become the hallmarks of the final phase: the mature, conscious relationship. It feels similar to the phase of being in love, but this time sober and more aware. It’s so nice, you’re moving into the love phase again. A new part of life must be discovered, so you move back into the power struggle … and so the cycle continues.
This cycle is different from the cycle between in love and the power struggle. Here you only become aware of the pain, but nothing happens. In the full cycle, you not only become aware of the pain, but in the transformation phase, you do something together. And pain heals. In the unconscious relationship, you keep repeating the same themes over and over. In the conscious relationship, these may be the same phases, but brand new, more complex themes.
Marriage becomes a collective journey of discovery of self, others, and life. Image therapy helps couples to live in conscious, healthy relationships
Watch the video below.