Tag Archives: love

There is no getting through it

Every relationship falls on hard times. Some get through it. Some don’t. I’ve always wondered what the difference was between those who make it and those who don’t. Was there a secret to the “getting through” or a trick that some learn and others don’t?

LoveCycles_coverA couple of months ago, I was sent a book on review. The title of the book: Love Cycles – The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love. It’s by Linda Carroll, a couples’ therapist for over thirty years. In the book, she describes the five cycles that love goes through. Sometimes these stages repeat themselves within a relationship. To me, that’s the trick or the secret to it all. There is no “getting through” it. We are always going through it. At any given time, we are in a different stage. As Carroll writes, “The stages of love do not end at wholehearted loving but rather with an acceptance that the stages form a spiral; different ages and stages continue to bring new gifts and fresh challenges. Over time, we become more flexible and willing to accept the natural impermanence of relationship seasons.”

Below is an article written by Linda Carroll describing the five stages of love.

The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love

by Linda Carroll

As a counselor to couples for many years, I’ve come to recognize five distinctive stages we travel through over the course of any intimate relationship: the Merge, Doubt and Denial, Disillusionment, Decision, and, finally, Wholehearted Loving.

Love Cycles and Choices

The first stage, [the Merge] fueled by a delicious and powerful love potion and marked changes in brain chemistry itself, causes people to become obsessed with the wonder and delight of their new partner. Its as though a veil covers our rational brain, and all we can see is what is magical about this person and the relationship. The seductive power of this stage may also cause us to fall in love with an inappropriate partner. With consciousness and effort, we can choose what to do with our feelings. Do we fan the flames of a potentially dangerous fire, or do we control our passion and turn our attention elsewhere?

Even if our partner is a good match, this will not eliminate the difficulties and annoyances two human beings bring to one another. In this first stage, we tend to see only the best, the possibilities, the magic.

If we choose to move with our partner into Stage Two, Doubt and Denial, we wake up from the trance of infatuation and begin to wonder whether this relationship is really the best choice for us. You find your feelings of love are becoming more conditional, power struggles increase and you wonder if your partner has changed. What now? We can choose to look carefully at our partner and assess his ability to collaborate, manage conflict and disappointment and accept responsibility for his choices and troubles. Can we feel strongly attracted to someone and yet admit to ourselves that this person is not a good choice for us? If so, are we able to say no to the relationship?

During this second stage, the spotlight shines on the flaws of our beloved. We now invest a lot of energy in getting our lover to become the ideal partner we thought they would be. At the same time, we also catch glimpses of our own least likeable parts — for example, how we react when our partner doesn’t agree with us. The research clearly shows that managing conflict effectively requires something different than fighting, fleeing or freezing. Can we learn these new skills?

Each of us is forced to give up our dream of perfect, unconditional love in which our partner always sees the best in us, says the right thing, never embarrasses us and reads our mind so that he or she can please us in every way possible.

As our disappointment escalates, so do our biological responses to stress: we prepare for war, retreat, or don camouflage. Welcome to the third stage: Disillusionment. As differences continue to emerge, our proclivities to defend and preserve ourselves may grow even stronger: we may believe that we’re always in the right and that everything should be done our way.

Alternatively, you may be the kind of person who cannot bear conflict. You shut your ears to every dissonant chord and pretend that everything is wonderful — or at least tolerable.

The point is, you have chosen how to respond. You will continue to make choices as you move through love’s stages. As disillusionment sets in, we can try our best to offer goodwill and kindness, even as tension thickens. As the “Why aren’t you me?” argument gathers momentum, we can consciously decide to loosen up a bit and allow more than one truth to be present in the relationship.

In this third stage, when our brain signals major alarm, it is particularly vital to choose to move from reactivity to rationality. When we are calmly present, we are free to act for the highest good of the relationship rather than out of fear and neediness.

Of course, because we’re thoroughly human, we won’t always respond to our lover from our highest selves. Then what? Can we apologize, make amends and take responsibility for how we’ve behaved, despite what our partner has done to upset or annoy us? We have the power to make that choice.

Let’s say that when we reach the fourth stage — Decision— we make the choice to part ways. Can we wish our former partner the best? If that’s too hard, can we at least not wish him or her the worst?

If we decide to remain together, we have the opportunity to learn the lessons that will help to make us the best person we can be, while also giving our relationship the chance to grow and deepen. This is where we enter the fifth cycle, which is wholehearted loving. No longer two halves trying to make a whole, we are two complete people learning about love. Passion, safety and generosity return to the relationship, along with humor and empathy.

From the Inside Out

Some of us are lucky enough to enjoy a strong connection with the same partner for a long stretch. But regardless of the quality of our intimate relationship, our emotional and spiritual life journey begins and ends within us. In this sense, every relationship is an inside job. Inside us is where it starts — and where it finishes, too.

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LindaCarroll_author_LoveCyclesLinda Carroll is the author of Love Cycles. A couple’s therapist for over thirty years, she is certified in Transpersonal Psychology and Imago Therapy and is a master teacher in Pairs Therapy. She lives in Corvallis, OR, offers workshops across the country, and is a frequent speaker at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico. Visit her online at www.lovecycles.org.

Adapted from the book Love Cycles: The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love ©2014 by Linda Carroll. Published with permission of New World Library www.newworldlibrary.com.

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Ms. Carroll writes about this topic with compassion, great understanding, and eloquence. Her book was not only interesting and helpful, but enjoyable to read and an intriguing look into how people love. If you’re looking for some inspiration to help you along the path you and your partner are travelling, I recommend Love Cycles.

As I’ve learned, it’s not about getting through it so that everything will be alright on the other side. It’s about going through it together and each person working from the inside out.

Great and limitless

Each day in my Inbox, I receive inspirational quotes, poems and sayings.

Today, I received this one: Continue reading

Reflecting

I haven’t written in this space for a while. Life has taken over again.

But this I must put down in writing somewhere and I do not have my notebook with me today.

On the way to daycare drop-off this morning, my sweet little girl was in one of those moods. She grumbled and whined all the way to her babysitter’s house. She wouldn’t let go of whatever it was that was turning her beautiful smile upside down.

Normally, this would irk me. I would let it get to me and it would force my smile upside down. Which in turn would make my daughter worse and my little boy a grumpy or sad mess.

I’ve read tons of parenting magazines, books, articles, blogs, etc. Many of them give fantastic advice. Some of them are ridiculous (they’re good for a laugh, though). But one piece of advice that I have read over and over in my lifetime (and not just from parenting “experts”) is that how other people treat you is not a reflection of you, it is a reflection of them and their circumstances.

Until this morning, I never really applied that to my children. I often think of it in terms of the adults in my life. But I have always taken more of a I-control-how-my-kids-feel attitude toward the little people in my life.

But today, my little girl was grumpy and whiny and I looked up at the grey sky and thanked God for her, grump and whine and all. And my gratitude reflected back to me and I felt good. All the way to daycare.

And when I dropped them off, she gave me a wonderful kiss and a hug. And she walked happily over to her friends. Perhaps my gratitude for her shone some light into her and cheered her up.

Whatever it was, for the first time, I did not feel like her mood was my problem. People get grumpy sometimes. All we can do is stand by and be there when the sun comes out for them again.

No commercials, but everything we need

Last year, we had cable. This year, we don’t. We still have shows for the kids, but it’s not commercial programming.

That’s my Christmas gift to me.

I have been enjoying the peace in our house without the background noise of the TV and the gimmies from my kids following every commercial break.

And my heart swelled when I asked my daughter if she wanted to write her letter to Santa in time for the Toronto Santa Claus parade and she said, “Sure!” then proceeded to ask me how to spell C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S  T-R-E-E and B-E-L-L.

I asked her why those words and she said, “Because that’s what I’m asking Santa to bring me for Christmas. I want a toy tree to go in my room and I want a bell like I got from Madame when I was the Étoile de la Semaine at school.”

Without the influence of commercials, my daughter wants her own tree, just like the big one we put up in our living room and she wants a bell. She asked for no toys, no clothes, no games. I was curious, so I asked her, “Why a tree and a bell?” Continue reading

Where did all the fun go?

When did our world (and by “our” I mean “my”), get all hung up on little things and stressed out?

Some time ago, my daughter was doing her homework at the kitchen table while I made dinner. My son wanted to join the homework fun, too. I offered him colouring books, writing activities, puzzles, etc., none of which caught his attention. Then I pulled out a game/puzzle exercise a friend had given me for my son. It had belonged to her son when he was younger and had been sent to him from his relatives in Germany.

I laid it out on the kitchen table and read the instructions. There were, of course, English instructions, but some of it was literal translation and a bit of German crept in. So, to make things fun, I used a German accent when I read the instructions out loud.

Both my kids dissolved into a laughing mess. Continue reading

Five Minute Friday – Grace

Linking up with Lisa-Jo over on her site today.

It’s Five Minute Friday. The word is grace. Here’s how to play:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back to Lisa-Jo’s post and invite others to join in.
3. And then, absolutely no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

GO

Two things collided this morning.

Yesterday, I volunteered at my daughter’s school, which gave me a chance to be with the teachers and the administration and to see the children in the environment in which they spend most of their waking hours absorbing, learning, grasping, growing, and attempting to comprehend their place in our world. Continue reading

Reminders of Innocence

I was doing a little catching up on my blog reading, and I came across this post on Memoirs of a Clueless Woman.

She wrote that she knew her third child would be her last, so she took tons of photos of him. And when he pushes her to her limits of patience and sanity (and really, what kid doesn’t do that to their poor, exhausted parents?), she looks back on those photos and is reminded that he is her baby and he won’t always be so challenging.

Her post made me aware that I do the same thing when my kids test me.

I get through the challenging moment the best I can, then, after putting my kids to bed, I sit down at my computer and sift through all those delicious baby photos that remind me of their innocence, their sweetness, their tiny personalities at that stage and how much they trusted me unquestioningly with their safety and well-being. Then I go back upstairs, tip toe into their room and hug and kiss them until I almost wake them up. I sneak out of their room then and stand at the door, peering at them through the crack as if looking into their lives as they stretch out before me.

Looking back on those baby photos, reliving those motherhood moments when I thought I couldn’t love another human being more and was so terrified of messing them up, reminds me that I was innocent too. I didn’t know the full capacity then—and I don’t know now—of the love that I feel for those little people that I brought into the world.

As a mother, I have grown so much right alongside those two little monkeys who, on some days, test me to my limits but who are really just doing their best to figure everything out…just like me.

Dipping into the past through photos (and catching the odd glimpse of myself in those pictures—most of the time I was behind the camera) is such a great reminder of the infinite wonders that are my little ones and the distance that I have come as a mother to those little wonders. But it also shows me that we have this infinite capacity for love and patience and strength that keeps us going, even on days when we don’t think we can.

Big Sis and Little Bro

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