Where Are You In The Relationship Cycle?

We change over time and so does our marriage relationship. Our relationships go through cycles of moving closer to each other and seemingly growing more distant.

The relationship cycle is normal. It is how God built us. Neuroscientists tell us that our brain experiences a dump of neurochemicals when we begin to fall in love. The next 18 to 24 months as our relationship continues, we experience that loving feeling that is due to the “chemical cocktail of love”. But at some point in the first two years of our relationship, our brains chemical system automatically resets.

“You have made my heart beat faster… with a single glance of your eyes…How beautiful is your love… How much better is your love than wine…’ Song of Solomon 4:9-10 edited (NASV)

When the brain resets its chemicals to “normal”, many people believe they have fallen out of love. They wonder if they made a mistake and the whether the person they are with is really their soul mate. In fact, you may know someone who seems to fall in and out of love every couple of years.

When the brain resets its chemicals to “normal”, too many spouses seem to notice someone else in their life. That other person begins to become the object of their affection and they begin to rationalize that they are really in love with someone else. If they have married, their relationship becomes another victim of the divorce industry.

The Relationship Cycle

There are four phases to the relationship cycle. We change over time and so does our marriage. In a life together forever marriage, these changes take place again and again during your time together. They are what makes marriage interesting, challenging, painful and fun. They are normal for every relationship.

  1. Honeymoon/Commitment Phase – As you begin to get to know each other better, you feel like everything is wonderful and close. You enjoy each other. You want to be together. It sometimes hurts when you are away from each other for any extended number of hours or days.   Goal: Enjoy it!
  2. Accommodating/Censoring Phase – As you discover more about your spouse, you begin to notice your differences more. You find more to disagree about, but you usually do not talk about it. You often censor, or hold back your thoughts, afraid you will hurt your spouse or mess up the relationship. Goal: Figure out how to be two individuals in a marriage together.
  3. Assessment Phase – You each spend more time doing things separately. You need time, space, friends, and rewards apart from each other. Your loving feeling is gone and you do not feel very connected emotionally or physically. You wonder how it is that you saw your spouse as so positive early in your relationship and negatives out way the positives. Other people and relationships in your life seem better than your spouse and yours. This stage leads to either a decision to leave the relationship (in some way) or to recommit to making the marriage better. Goal: Make your spouse the object of your affection and do the things that made you two fall in love in the first place.
  4. Recommitment Phase – You have worked out how to be an individual within an interdependent relationship. You have made a recommitment to the marriage and your spouse and are doing the things, like dating, that you did when you first fell in love. Goal: Become the best spouse you can be. Intentionally do the things that help you discover each other again.

Making Your Marriage Stronger

Falling in love is easy. It is staying in love that is difficult. If you find that you are in the Assessment Phase and have lost that loving feeling, consider the following:

  • Pray!  Pray for your spouse.  Pray together! One recent study found couples who pray together regularly have a divorce rate of less than 1%.
  • Review Your Relationship Highlights!  What are the most positive things that have happened in your relationship?  Use pictures or video when you can.  Share the list with your spouse!
  • Review Your Relationship Highlights!  What are the most positive things that have happened in your relationship?  Use pictures or video when you can.  Share the list with your spouse!
  • Listen!  When choosing between when to speak or listen, choose to listen.  Good listening means pushing back your own agenda for the sake of the relationship.
  • Kiss! Spend at least 10 solid seconds kissing every day.
  • Prioritize your partner – before work, friends, sports/hobbies. Treat your spouse as if they are the best thing that ever happened to you… because it’s probably true!
  • Assume the best! It usually was not done on purpose to you.  When you try to interpret your spouse’s reason for behavior, start by assuming they didn’t do it on purpose.  Do not assume the worst.  Be curious not investigative in questions about it.
  • Flirt with your spouse!  Dust off those flirtation skills and use them on the one you’ve committed to living your life with.  You never know where it will lead you!
  • No Secrets! Stay open about how you spend your time, energy and money. Don’t let anyone or anything between you.
  • Do Chores.  Do your spouse’s household chores for a day each month!  It will make you more grateful and the relief of duties might make your spouse more amorous!
  • Choose Your Battles Fight Fair. Show some class. Hurtful words are frequently forgiven but hard to forget.
  • Connect daily.  Do you have a scheduled time to catch up with each other every day?  Talking regularly about life can help you achieve a stronger bond in your relationship!
  • Date at least twice a month!  When is the last time you went on a date?  Even a free or cheap event can revive relationships.  Take turns planning and asking each other out for a date.  Plan a date today!
  • Move! Not your address, but your body.  Get active together!  Walk, job, bike, dance, hike, swim, skate, golf, garden, bird watch, people watch, volunteer, move together!
  • Change the focus of change to the person in the mirror.  If you want a better marriage, begin with being the best you that you can possibly be.  Continue to grow, learn and improve.
  • Invest in your relationship. Couples who attend marriage workshops or retreats and read relationship books are more than 80% less likely to divorce.

Putting these resolutions into action in your relationship will improve your happiness, health and financial well being.  Doing a little every day to strengthen your connection has a huge impact.

What do you have to say?

We love to hear from readers. What other suggestions you would add to this article? Do you know someone you need to forward this article to?

This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2017. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at [email protected].