Looking for a relationship guide?
Well, I wish we could send you a nice, neat and handy guide that would set you on your way to eternal bliss and happiness. ;)
Unfortunately, it is not that simple. We definitely need guidance in our relationships but don't expect it to be that easy.
We think easy-to-read, easy-to-use handbooks like the ones we get for gardening or how to fix your bike might work but relationships are human, unique and complex and something that all of us struggle with on a daily basis.
We do believe, however, that there are a few things that happen in all relationships and things we can do to help all of us have happy relationships.
These things are not always obvious. Our relationship guide will make you aware of some intentional skills that helped get us get to a mature conscious relationship.
These guidelines might not work for you but we believe they will work if you commit to using them consistently and intentionally.
The reason we say this?
It worked for us. Simple as that. And we have helped enough couples to know that it works for almost everyone else IF YOU WORK IT.
We like seeing our relationship as an adventure filled with discovery, excitement, joy, intimacy, curiosity and romance as well as fear, anger, danger, hardships, struggles and conflict.
It is inevitable that we experience the good and the bad. That's life. And we have to find a way to deal with life. Just like you need a map or guide for a real adventure you also need a relationship guide for your most precious relationship.
How we deal with each and every challenge (including all the nice ones!) will determine how we grow as a couple and as individuals. It will make us or break us, force us to survive or thrive, get us stuck or help us become the best we can be.
The choice is yours.
Trust us to be your relationship guides and show you the different stages of a relationship journey. We will show you how we dealt or are still dealing with each stage.
See if you recognise some of the stages and if you responded or are responding the way we did.
Most importantly, see what you like about what us and thousands of other couples do to keep the adventure going and if you think you are up for the challenge!
Let the adventure begin!
We all fall in love.
You don't need a relationship guide for this stage!
It just happens. It's a wonderful, exciting, fantastic stage that cannot be explained, examined or analysed...So just enjoy it! While it lasts...
We have all experienced this phase. You meet someone. You are "lovestruck". You either fall head over heels in love or over some period of time gradually get together with that special someone that makes everything better the more time you spend together.
Sunsets are more brilliant, roses smell terrific, shared ice-cream never tasted this good and everything around the two of you are simply better when you are together. You even finish each other's sentences and know exactly what the other one wants!
This stage is full of romance, fairy tales, flowers and cards, batting eyelashes, shared meals, laughter and sunset walks...
And during this phase no one in the world will convince you that you need a relationship guide. Ever! It is all too easy and oh so wonderful!
Compare it with the excitement you have when going hiking for the first time. You are so excited about the adventure that you cannot imagine why you even need a guidebook or map. Everything is set up and the road ahead looks clear, comfortable and very inviting....
Unfortunately this doesn't last!
Enter the POWER STRUGGLE!
Yes, we use capital letters for this stage because it is that serious!
Call it your first fight, disagreement, misunderstanding, or "having words". Whatever you call it, it's not something you signed up for when you fell in love. It is not even something you expected or thought would ever happen.
It is at this stage that you realise that you and your partner are still two different people from different backgrounds with different thoughts, different emotions and different views about life.
It is now that you might start looking for a relationship guide.
The first time this happens might not be so bad. You disagree about something and you agree to disagree. No train smash right!
But of course that's not where it stops. It happens again...and again...and again. The "fighting" gets more hectic, the mutual understanding less and the idea that you are "meant for each other" gets really strange and absurd!
Many times these power struggles are about who is right and who is wrong. And of course if one of you are right the other HAS to be wrong!
We all cope differently with this stage. Some of us are defensive and withdraw while others get very aggressive, vocal and attacking. No matter what you do it is not a happy place and not a place where anyone wants to be in their relationship.
Unfortunately that is where most people get stuck. As I said before it's not what we signed up for when we fell in love but that is what inevitably happens!
We get stuck here because it feels impossible to get out of the power struggle. We want to prove ourselves right, fix our problems or fix our partners. Most of the time we don't see a way out. We stay stuck! Lost in the wilderness with no idea how to get back and no map or signpost in sight! Where is that relationship guide?!
We have a relationship guide that can get you through this but for now just know that everybody gets to this stage and we get there very often and very easy!
More on how to resolve this and move to a place where you are having fun again later...
Relax, calm down and know that this stage is a natural progression to a mature and conscious relationship. It's all up to YOU to get there.
At the start of your relationship you made some form of commitment to be together. You either got engaged, got married or made a decision to live together or be together as a couple.
Now it's time for another commitment. Let's call it a re-commitment.
This commitment is a conscious decision. It is a choice you will have to make with a lot of intention i.e. a choice you make to DO something and stick to it no matter what... not because you feel like doing it but because you need to do something different than what you instinctively want to do. It's a choice you make and commit to!
It is also the first time in this relationship journey we are describing, that your decision or choice is entirely conscious. In other words a decision that you have to make deliberately, a decision that will not come naturally and a decision that will even feel forced...
Why do i say this?
In stage 1 (falling in love) what happens to us happens almost naturally. We don't make a a decision to fall in love do we? it just happens and it feels natural...
It is the same with stage 2 (the power struggle). We certainly don't want to start fighting, disagreeing and struggling. It's not our choice; it just happens...
These stages and all the feelings, emotions and stuff that happens all happen unconsciously. We almost don't have a choice.
In stage 3 (the re-commitment) this changes. It has to. In order for you to find a way to get back to a great place you have to make a conscious and intentional decision. it does not feel natural and it does not "just happen".
Many of us would rather stay stuck in the power struggle and keep fighting to prove that we are right and our partner is wrong. Many of us try to get back to the stage where we fell in love again...
But none of these options get us "unstuck". We have to do something different. We need a relationship guide.
It's a new commitment to our relationship that we haven't made before. Maybe we thought we did but our first commitment felt like the natural or right thing to do when we were so in love. This time it's different.
This commitment is to find a new way to move through the Power Struggle to something new, something that will save our relationship and get us to a stage where we love in a mature, and conscious way.
This commitment is necessary to move us to another stage where we are fully alive and relaxed joyful and our relationship is a source of growth and true happiness.
Once we have committed (stage 3) to do something different we are ready to learn something new. Stage 4 is about gaining new knowledge, acquiring new skills and doing the work.
Think of anything in your life where you need to get to a better stage or place. Let us take your job as an example. In order for you to get promoted, earn more money or get better at your job you need to learn a new skill, study more or do another course. Once you have acquired this new skill you can apply it.
Another example is what we do if we want to get in physical shape. We might go to the gym or get a new diet plan. Then we have to consistently follow the exercise and eating plan. We have to DO it!
We know we have to DO something different than before. It's the only way we will change for the better. It's the only way we will get to where we want to be.
So you have to DO THE WORK and follow a relationship guide.
The Imago process gives you all the tools you need and teaches you how to use them. Then it's up to you! You have to start using the tools!
Just like Stage 3 where you commit very intentionally and consciously, you HAVE TO be VERY intentional to DO the work. There is no other way you will get to your destination.
LET'S GET THERE!
Once you start doing the work you will become aware. Aware of how you act and react. Aware of what you do when you feel angry or sad. Aware of what you contribute to the power struggle...
And once you are aware of all of this you will have a desire to change it. Once you are aware of every thing you have been doing unconsciously (unaware) you can intentionally start doing something different.
This awareness will keep you alert to what you now need to DO in order to enjoy a thriving mature and conscious relationship.
As with Stage 3 (Commitment) and Stage 4 (Doing the work) this stage can only happen intentionally. I'm sure you can now understand how this differs from Stage 1 (Falling in Love) and Stage 2 (The Power Struggle).
You are now ready for the best stage! The one where you want to be for the rest of your life!
We all want real love! This is where the relationship guide will lead you.
This stage of your relationship is mature and conscious and where you experience safety, connection, healing, growth, openness, honesty, romance, real love, fun and aliveness and the desire to be and grow TOGETHER.
But in order to get to this stage we need to commit (stage 3), do the work (stage 4) and become and stay aware (stage 5). All these steps have to be done intentionally and consciously.
This is where you want to be in your relationship most of the time. None of us are perfect though and neither are our relationships.
So there will be times that you fall back into the power struggle. That is natural and will happen to all of us. This time though, there is a big difference!
You will now know what to do not to stay stuck, cope and simply try to survive! In order to get through the power struggle to the next stage you need to be intentional.
And this intentional DOING will get you back to where you want to be, in REAL LOVE!
You will now also understand, feel and become aware that all the awesome "feelings", emotion, romance and fun that was such an important part of "falling in love" will now return. This time it happens consciously and you and your partner create it together if you are willing to follow the relationship guide!
We hope this relationship guide intro have given you a better idea of the different stages of your relationship. It will hopefully make you more aware and conscious of where you are and what you need to do now.
It will not be easy but it will definitely be worth it!