Relationship Rescue for Wives and Girlfriends of Internet Pornography Addicts
Rebuilding After Sexual Addiction - Natural Stages of Relationships
All relationships go through a maturation process that results in adjustment to reality, negotiation, and conflict resolution. Is it possible the two of you are destined to travel this road and your catalyst for growth and change just happens to be his porn addiction?
As you begin to work on rebuilding your relationship, it is important to have realistic expectations regarding the type of bond you are striving for. Relationships are a lot like playing tennis. You can play doubles ,but it important for you to have your single game finely tuned as well. Tennis anyone?
The Stages of Committed Relationships
When attempting to create a loving, healthy intimate relationship, it is important to have an accurate roadmap for the journey. Most of our culture's roadmaps have emphasized fantasy, illusion and denial, and those who follow those maps will tend to have unhappy, conflict-ridden relationships. What follows is a reality-based roadmap which comes from research into couples' actual experiences of being in long-term relationships.
While theorists disagree on the exact name and number of the stages couples progress through, there is a general consensus that couples go through some version of the following stages. Not everyone goes through all the stages and some couples may go through them in a different sequence, but for most couples this is the normative experience in a long-term committed relationship.
This is the love that Hollywood loves to promote as the only kind of love. Romantic love is wonderful, easy, and effortless. It is very spontaneous and alive. The feelings and perceptions that go through both people are that we are one; we are the same. You are perfect. I can give and receive love with little or no effort required. There is a tremendous emphasis on maximizing similarities and minimizing differences. There is a belief and expectation that you will provide most or all of my wants, needs, desires. There is generally a high degree of passion and feelings and expressions of romance come easily and often. The partners think about each other constantly, and make much eye contact and are very affectionate when they are together. Many people experience this as living in a state of near-constant bliss and infatuation. There is a belief that these feelings and experiences will go on forever, that 'we will never disagree on anything', and that somehow fate or forces larger than themselves have brought them together.
This stage generally lasts from six months to two years, and is the SHORTEST stage of any of the stages of long-term committed relationships.
2. ADJUSTING TO REALITY
Ah, reality. Inevitably, predictably, eventually, reality rears its (ugly?) head and the bubble bursts on the Romantic stage. Sometimes it is a slow leak, other times a sudden and complete blowout. But either way, something happens which causes a minor or major conflict in the new relationship. Sometimes the trigger is living together and having to share household chores and experiencing personal habits up close. Sometimes it is an act of deception which is discovered. Sometimes it is planning a wedding, buying a house, or sharing finances. Whatever the cause, after the conflict occurs, it becomes impossible to continue the fantasy that this person and this relationship are immune from struggle, from effort, from reality. Differences which were previously obscured suddenly become visible. Conflicts, anxieties, disappointment and hurt replace the effortless flow of the Romantic stage. There is a sense that this person is not living up your hopes and dreams, and there is an accompanying loss of closeness. Gradually each person is forced to relinquish some of their most cherished romantic fantasies, or to cling to them desperately in a state of denial.
In this stage, it is common to feel as if someone or something or even Life itself has confusionas how to create that. It is the first time that fears of intimacy begin to arise. Suddenlythe couple must learn how to deal with very real differences, how to deal with conflict,and how to integrate being an independent person as well as someone in an intimate relationship. In short, Adjusting to Reality is the stage where the Real Relationship begins.
3. THE POWER STRUGGLE
As the disillusionment of the Adjusting to Reality stage deepens, the couple tends to have more disagreements. Minor issues blow up into larger arguments. Yelling appears for the first time, if it ever will. Both partners dig in their heels and defend their positions on issues fiercely. Each person digs in their heels and protects their turf. This once-tender effortless loving relationship has become a battleground and evolved into a daily Power Struggle. This is a typical stage in the development of a long-term committed relationship.
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