In every fairy tale and cinema romance we are shown: When two have found each other, all is well and happy ending. Unfortunately, no one has told us what comes next. Therefore, here is a brief overview of the individual relationship phases.
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Life as a couple is not always cinematic. Do we all know. There are events that mean a break: When you’ve known each other a few years, when you move in together, when you have a child.. . Although these are beautiful moments, they pose challenges to couples and also pose risks. The good news: overcoming problems together welds both partners firmly together.
Apart from such changes in the life of a couple, there is also the ravages of time that gnaw at the relationship, or let’s say it more nicely: the relationship with each other changes. And one thing in advance: this does not always have to be for the negative!
Here are the main relationship phases that just about every couple goes through:
Relationship phases # 1: The 3. Year
After about three years as a couple, the pink clouds have cleared (at the latest). We realize that we have idealized the other a little in the initial infatuation. Now we see more clearly. Also the mistakes of the partner.
There are two risks in this relationship phase: Either we try to change the other person according to our ideas – a conceivably bad idea. Or we try to maintain the illusion by blocking out everything that annoys us about our partner. Also works only conditionally.
Here’s what couples can do in this relationship phase
We should realize in this relationship phase that we have only now really grasped our partner as a person – without rose-colored glasses. In order to please each other, you may have suppressed some real traits in the past and hidden them from your partner. You have just shown your best side.
Now in this relationship phase is a good opportunity to become authentic and have a "real" relationship Develop relationship with each other. And: to return to what you were before you met each other. This also means meeting friends that you may have neglected for years. So this phase is also an opportunity. For yourself and for the relationship. And whoever survives this together will be rewarded with a deep, intimate love.
Relationship phases # 2: The darn 7. Year
This relationship phase can be difficult. Especially if you haven’t really mastered the 3-year cliff, that is, the transition from initial infatuation to clear vision and new, old independence. If you have closed your eyes to reality for years, it will catch up with you at this point all the more surely.
At this point, at the latest, you have to accept that the passion of the first years has given way to something else. It is no longer about butterflies and wet hands. Suddenly you wonder if the love has become too friendly. Is the passion gone forever?
This is what couples can do in this relationship phase
Do not panic. It is not about the end of love, but about the end of blazing passion. The couple must understand that love changes over the years. Now it becomes real, grounded and justified. This is something positive, because this love is clear and honest. There is not only black and white, passion vs. Boredom. Routine can also be something beautiful. Let’s call them rituals. Because it’s all about the habits that bind a couple together.
But it is important to break out of this routine from time to time, to rediscover the fun in each other and not to let the routine become indifference. What is also important in this phase of the relationship is to create moments of closeness again as a couple. For example, about sexuality or by reflecting on why we fell in love with each other.
Relationship phases # 3: Moving in together
Moving in together is the first clear sign that both partners want to put their relationship on a solid foundation. A small promise for the future. You show yourself as a couple, as a unit. But whereas before you saw each other in special moments, got ready for dates with your partner, and went completely underground on lousy days, now there’s nothing to gloss over. Moods, bad habits and different lifestyles can hardly be hidden anymore.
This is what couples can do in this relationship phase
Both must learn in this phase to put away perfectionism and rose-colored glasses and to take the peculiarities of the new flatmate with humor. The open toothpaste tube, the socks lying around, the toilet lid left open – these are the typical (mini) conflicts of everyday life. You even give color to living together. Instead of getting angry, we should let our partner surprise us. Yes, he may be more demanding in some things than we thought. But that is all right.
It is important to be careful not to fall into a kind of couple hibernation. This means: not to lose the connection with friends and family and be careful to maintain the network of acquaintances and hobbies. This is the only way to keep the partnership exciting in the long term during this new phase of the relationship.
Also important: a new relationship needs a new home. If both partners move to the family of one, to the old apartment of the other, or even to the apartment where one partner previously lived with the ex, this can cause problems.
Relationship phases # 4: The end of togetherness
The first child together. Lord knows this is more than a new relationship phase, it feels like a whole new life! You have hoped and waited so long. Now the baby is here and it is really upsetting the whole structure of the couple. From now on, the baby will make enormous physical and emotional demands on its parents. The couple must become a family, husband and wife father and mother. It is usually easier for a woman because she feels strong motherly feelings right from the start thanks to the hormone oxytocin.
Here’s what couples can do during this relationship phase
Beware of thoughts like: The baby is our last chance to save the relationship. A baby connects two people, for sure, but it can’t putty a relationship. Strong nerves are needed, especially in the early days. Conflicts that already existed before come to light even sooner.
Many new parents also believe that everyone else is working perfectly except themselves. That’s why they tend to hide their fears, just so as not to give the impression of being overwhelmed with the new situation. The only thing that helps here is to talk openly about your feelings. Strengthening each other.
In addition, it is important in this phase of the relationship to watch out for alarm signals that indicate that you are drifting apart as a couple. If parents notice that they are not able to separate from their child for an evening, they should be careful. You must also take time for yourself, even if this is difficult, especially in the early days.
Relationship phases # 5: Hard times
Illness, grief, disappointment: There are phases in which a relationship must prove itself. Even if it sounds natural to be there for each other in such phases: In reality, they are a test that many a couple has failed at. Small consolation: the couple may very well emerge from the crisis stronger than before.
Here’s what couples can do in this phase of their relationship
A partnership is built on two pillars: love and the will to remain a couple. In bad times, it is precisely this will that is decisive. If you love someone, you have to be able to rely on them and ask for help.
We often mistakenly think that our partner must feel that we need his help. You should rather formulate your wishes and needs clearly and – also important – don’t expect miracles from your partner. He, too, is only a human being with fears and insecurities.
If you want to help your partner in a difficult phase, you should remember that what helps ourselves is not necessarily right for others. There is no right or wrong. The partner should recognize and respect this.