Monday, September 2, 2013

100 Things I Want to Tell My Children and Grandchildren: #3

Relationships go through phases, so just relax.

The issue of relationship phases came up last night as I was enjoying dinner and wine with my hubby of 23 years, Mr. Crouse-y-poo. We were discussing how glad we were that we’d weathered some tough times in our marriage to get to where we are, and it occurred to me that a little insight into  “relationship phases”  was something that might be of value to my kids and grandkids.

If over fifty years and multiple love relationships teach you anything, it teaches you that everything about relationships is temporary. Contrary to traditional wisdom, which tells us that relationships are all about permanence, temporary-ness is not a bad thing. You’ve heard of the five phases of grief, well, relationships have five phases too: sex, fear, anger, resolution and comfort.

In the early phases of most “love” relationships it is all about sex, and that rocks. But at some point, just like a new toy it may lose some of its luster and/or be taken for granted. If you are truly committed, you’ll be satisfied to explore the relationship and find new ways to keep it exciting and interesting. 

The thing about sex and relationships, and it took me years to learn this, is that they are almost entirely about how you feel about yourself. If you don’t feel good about yourself, you will feel insecure, which causes fear. This fear compounded by the stress of money, work and kids, will eventually, and pretty much unavoidably, lead to the third phase of relationships, anger. This is often where divorce or counseling happens.

There is an old adage, “If you don’t know what to do, do nothing.” Which, when you are in the middle of it, seems impossibly unbearable. It is here at this critical crossroad you find out how smart you are. If you can be still long enough to figure it out, you have reached the next phase, resolution. Some might call this stage compromise, but as I often tell my children, being right feels good for 15 minutes. If you’re still miserable after those 15 minutes, what have you really accomplished? A good bit of compromise/resolution in relationships is about accepting who you are and accepting who your partner is.

So here we are at a point past the sex, fear, anger and resolution – which may be 10-20 years into the marriage – and you’ve arrived at comfort, which is strangely similar to the sex phase, in that it is just fun. You may still have rows, but when you wake up the next morning, you let it go. 

Long story short, relationships go through phases, so just relax.


  1. Love this! I think it would have been hard to understand/believe this when I was younger, but now I know it is completely true. Thanks for sharing.