there’s an explosion!!! Fireworks spark between you and another. Life suddenly makes sense. It feels like you finally know why you are here. Everything you ever did, every decision, every person you met led you here, to meet this person—this amazing person. You find out that you’re not alone in your feelings and they feel the same way. You’re both elated and can’t stop thinking about each other. You want to spend all your time together. Congratulations, you have just entered the Honeymoon Phase. Welcome to the easiest part of your relationship.
Fireworks may not have exploded for all of us when we met our significant others. It doesn’t matter. Relationships have ever evolving phases & dynamics. The first phase (no matter how it began) is the Honeymoon. We know it well. We put our best foot forward and show our best sides, without even trying too hard. It just seems to come naturally. It’s a phase that has no timeline. If it did, we might try to prevent the end at all costs. When this seemingly blissful, romantic phase comes to a close, there is only one thing knocking at the door to greet us—reality—at its finest.
This is when a certain level of comfort sets in and we are no longer performing at our highest, best self. We find ourselves right back in the middle of our journey in becoming. What happened? We look to our partners. The things that used to be cute and endearing are now somewhat annoying. Who they seemed to be in the beginning, they aren’t living up to anymore. We’re feeling somewhat duped. What changed?
“Is it me? Is it my partner? Are we compatible?”
—The questions arise.
“He used to be so affectionate.”
“She used to just come along, even when it wasn’t her thing.”
“They never want to go out anymore.”
—Ahhh, remembering when.
—The blaming begins.
“Why can’t things go back to the way they were?”
—We’re holding on to a time when things were “perfect.”
Well, I’ll tell you just how we got here. I call it, the Mating Dance. Let’s go back, shall we?
In the beginning is when the first dynamic of a relationship is created. The Mating Dance. It’s the courting performance every animal does to entice a mate. Humans are no different. Whether aware of it or not, our euphoria kicks-in and we aim to show up as attractive as possible to our POI (Person-of-Interest). It’s basic biology. In this state, it’s not that hard being our ideal self either. It feels easy in fact. However, seeing this ideal self initially makes an expectation that is hard to let go of once reality knocks. This mating ritual is often the only part of romance that is portrayed in most movie plots. Unfortunately, these are the examples we learn from…and draw from, whether for better or for worse. Which means, the basis of our relationship knowledge stems from a simple snapshot, usually fictional. Couples lose sight of the reality of relationships as a whole.
When reality knocks, let’s get realistic about the Mating Dance too. This dynamic happens between two people who don’t know each other very well. They show off their best selves based solely on themselves as individuals. They meet as distinct I‘s or Me‘s. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are testing each other, interviewing each other, assessing.
When the Mating Dance dynamic wears off, bringing the Honeymoon phase to a close, the next natural phase of romance awaits. The ecstatic euphoria has calmed down. We feel free to let go, relax, and get real. Congratulations, we’re now comfortable enough, and some needed trust has been built. Remember, this is only the beginning. There is much to come. A new chapter lies ahead, and when we are aware of it and willing, it involves a distinct We. I call this Coupledom.Many relationships resist entering Coupledom, simply due to their lack of awareness around real relating and cling to the movie-like romance splendor of the Mating Dance.
Every now and again, I am contacted by a pair of dwindling love-birds who have arrived at this important cusp. This is one of my favorite times to catch a couple. They come in thinking their trying to salvage the withering remains of their relationship. Both at a loss of what to do, unsure of what happened. Then, leave elated to find they’ve simply reached an ending that is asking to die off, so they can enter the next intonation of their maturing relationship, if they so choose. Bright-eyed and excited about the newness, Coupledom can then be entered with another level of romance & wonder to accompany it. This is true for every shift, change, and transition in relating (and there is a lot!) Helping couples through these transitions within the maturation of love are at the heart of my work.
It pains me to see their is such a lack of guidance and experiential wisdom around relating to help nurture couples through these chapter changes. Especially the massive one that happens when a new baby enters the dynamic. Suddenly, there are not only parent-child dynamics that begin to form, but a family system as well. Evolutionarily speaking, this is where that first Mating Dance was headed all along.
One of the most important dynamic-shifts that too often gets overlooked at the baby juncture is that there are now two couples in the household—The Parent Couple and The Lover Couple. The former being, how you are as parents relating to your child, which becomes primary. It is also often shaky because it’s all new without little to no personal experience in this area together. The latter being, how you are as lovers in spite of now having a child. Which often get’s back-burnered for so long that when it’s found again (if found) the lover connection is as unrecognizable as the blackened-mishapen-burned-out pot it was once in, while the flame has been simmering for so long, the coals are too cool to the touch to know if they can even be rekindled.
So what to do?
♥♥♥ Relationship Tip ♥♥♥
The Lover Couple is equally valuable to maintain as the Parent Couple. And contrary to cultural belief, it is actually quite important to the stability for children to sense the lover connection in their parents. To pay witness to moments of affection and romantic gesture. To know that their parents have date nights. That there is an important bond between the parents that doesn’t include the children, but nurtures them, supports them, sustains them. It is important for kids to sense and feel the love that they were literally conceived amidst. What I’m talking about is what is picked up on the children’s end energetically. I’m not advocating for having sex in front of your children.
All I’m saying is find ways to maintain the Lover Couple together. Not just sexy-time, but quality time. To bask in your romantic selves. Play with your passion. Feed your flames of flirtation. Find ways to communicate “I still want you,” “I miss you,” “I know there’s a lot going on, but let’s make time.” Then…Make. The. Time. I call this—Mate-enance.