Many relationships begin with lots of laughter, romantic dinners, unexpected gifts, and a great deal of passion. If the relationship deepens, the couple may notice that their feeling of affection and sexuality become more intense as they become focused on each other. They may cherish the idea that their lover adores them all of the time. During this natural process, the couple may have a feeling of oneness and experience “falling in love.” In this euphoric state, many couples assume that their partner will always be thoughtful, kind, happy, agreeable, helpful, and caring.
As the couple deepens their connection, stimulating chemicals are being released in the brain’s limbic system, producing a “natural high.” This usually strengthens their expectation that they will continue to always feel ecstatic and “live happily ever after.” During this time, if either observes a negative trait in their partner, they may assume that, over time, love will change their partner.
Meanwhile, most couples are unaware that sustaining a loving relationship requires more than experiencing happiness, joy, and passion. They may presume that it will always be easy to have mutual respect, honesty, humor, and a sense of good will and acceptance. They may not know how to create emotional safety, communicate respectfully, resolve their differences, solve their problems, and have persistence when things get difficult. Unfortunately, these attitudes and skills don’t come automatically with being in a committed relationship.
After The Honeymoon
Over time (from two months to three years) the brain tapers off of its production of the stimulating chemicals, and euphoria wanes. Simultaneously, each partner may begin to see the reality of their partner, including noticing the negative traits that they may have overlooked before. As each partner notices that the other is human (and not ideal), they both become confused, disappointed, irritated and fearful. They may begin to argue. In the struggle for power, either partner may try to coerce the other partner to change, producing more disenchantment, belligerence, anger, and/or withdrawal. As resentment and bitterness increase, happiness and affection usually diminish. The couple feels hopeless and like they have “fallen out of love.”
This scenario is common for most couples to experience early in their relationship. It often leads to couples thinking that “the honeymoon is over” even before they get married. They often have no idea how to accept the disillusionment and proceed to create a mutually respectful, loving, and sustainable relationship. Being unaware of this predictable phenomenon, many couples may conclude that they picked the wrong partner. They may resume searching for the perfect mate.
Recovering and Setting Realistic Expectations and Goals
Fortunately, researchers have been able to verify the predictability of this process; and therapists have formulated ways to help couples recover from their disillusionment, develop mutual respect, create realistic expectations and goals for their relationships, learn strategies to resolve their differences, and improve communication. As couples learn and incorporate these ideas and skills, they most often increase their compassion, their connection, and their sexual enjoyment.
Getting Help to Create a Sustainable Relationship
If any of this sounds familiar, I can help you better understand what has happened, and help you to learn the attitudes and skills that are necessary for creating a mutually satisfying, loving, and sustainable relationship. Call me at 770-952-3308 for a complimentary consultation. I look forward to the possibility of helping you achieve a more enjoyable relationship.