The best relationships are the ones that are constantly progressing. So how
can you keep your marriage moving forward, in a healthy way?
Studio 5 Relationship Matt Townsend says there are three stages every
strong, happy couple will experience.
All human relationships follow a very natural progression which leads the
participants to either draw closer into each other and to connect more richly
or to drive them apart and eventually separate from each other. The three
stages to watch out for are the Yearning, Earning and Enduring stage. Here’s
a review of each stage.
Yearning Stage of Relating
Every relationship, no matter what type, starts with some elevated levels of
chemistry, excitement and blindness. The combination of the chemicals
involved as well as the newness and novelty of the experience all combine to
create a special feeling and sometimes an illusion of specialness. Just as 80%
of the fuel in a rocket is used in the first stage of the trip to the moon, the
same is true in the yearning stage of most relationships. We really need to
have an exciting start to keep many relationships alive long enough to give
them a second chance. The truth, however, is that in this highly chemical
stage we feel a lot of excitement with very little effort on our part, which
eventually may blind us or make us have unrealistic expectations about the
process of building relationships. Below are some other key points to this
first stage of relating.
· Every relationship starts in this first, chemically charged state called the
· The chemicals are high, clarity is low, and commitment is untested.
· Signs of Yearning:
o We are very willing to give the benefit of the doubt.
o We tend to believe everything the other says.
o We somehow seem to think that all of their jokes are hilarious.
o Excitement is at its peak.
o All interactions are energetic interactions.
o We’re on our best behavior.
o We truly care what the other thinks.
· In the Yearning stage we tend to feel so charged that we act with all of
this energy. We are quick to serve. We give and help the other willingly
because we “feel” like it…it’s just so easy.
Earning Stage of Relating
The second stage in the progression of healthy relationships is called the
Earning stage. In this stage, because you are no longer being driven by
chemistry and the novelty of the relationship, the relationship enters a stage
where if it is going to last it will now take some work and effort. Earning the
relationship demands that we begin to work for the relationship; make time
for it, understand the needs of the other person, and put ourselves second to
them. For many, the Earning stage is complicated because it is so contrary
and difficult compared to the initial phase of Yearning. If you really think
about it though, all things in life of value need to be worked on to make
them happen. Here are some other key points to the Earning stage of
· The chemicals are low, clarity is high, and commitment is tested.
· Signs of Earning:
o Questioning each other.
o Trust issues appear.
o Jokes are getting old.
o “Oh it’s just you.”
o Less energy, excitement and fun!
o Boredom and predictability set in.
o Comfortable over exciting (flannel jammies and sweatpants).
o Conflict goes up.
o Care less what they think.
o You hear phrases like: “It shouldn’t be this hard…”, “He or she has
changed!”, “I love you but I’m not in love with you.”
· In this stage we are struggling to serve, give and help the other because
it just doesn’t come as easy to us. We really have to work harder in the
Earning stage and if we do, eventually our work will pay off and we’ll start to
feel something different for them. In this phase, we feel that we have worked,
served and given all that we can.
Enduring Stage of Relating
The last stage in the progression of healthy relationships is the Enduring
stage. The Enduring stage is not the “enduring to the end” kind of
relationship or something that you must simply endure. Instead it is the fruit
of hard work and service for another person when you have officially earned
the relationship and now you have an “enduring” friend for life! The Enduring
relationship is made up of people who will love you no matter what and with
whom you totally relate. Here are some more examples of what makes and
· The relationship is not founded on chemicals even though there is a
profound connection. Clarity is crystal clear between the people and
commitment is enduring.
· Signs of Enduring:
o You accept the other person for who they are, not just what they can
o You are very realistic about the person; you know their strengths and
weakness and revere them just the same.
o You see the person with respectful eyes, as someone who is independent
of you and not just as someone who can give you want you want.
o You feel confident, secure and strong in the relationship.
o You are willing to risk more and be more vulnerable with the other and
your goal is to be real and not to impress.
o You feel you are at “home” with the other.