Is your relationship worth fighting for? These are the three “stages of love” – and they’ll help you see yourself (and your partner!) more clearly.
“I know that love changes and there are different phases of love,” says Mark on 10 Warning Signs of a Bad Relationship. “But how do you know if you’re in a normal slump or if your relationship is over? My wife is changing, going through some emotional stuff that is making her withdraw and pull away from me. Part of me thinks this is a normal stage of our marriage, but part of me wonders if things will ever be the same. So how do you know if a relationship is worth fighting for?”
Here’s one of the best ways to know if you should fight to save your relationship: you’ve done a “reality check” on your marriage. You know the difference between fairy tale love and true love. And, you know your own self. Below are some of the most common deceptions and myths about relationships, to help you see whether or not fighting for your relationship or throwing in the towel is the best route to go…
If your spouse is emotionally or physically difficult to reach, you may feel anxious or afraid. You might be worried that your relationship has changed or that he doesn’t love you anymore. While you’re struggling to decide if your relationship is worth fighting for, remember that all love relationships go through periods of distance and closeness, disconnection and attachment.
One of the most important tips on how to love someone who is emotionally unavailable is to stop trying to change or fix him. Let go of the illusion that your love will open your husband or boyfriend up, that your emotional depth and commitment is enough to save your relationship. Hold tight to the fact that even though love changes, you can change with it! You can discern whether your relationship is worth fighting for, and you can take steps to rebuild your love.
Is Your Relationship Worth Fighting For?
While you’re reading through these stages and phases of love, remember that there are no exact formulas or specific solutions. Every relationship is different and unique.
It is a difficult decision to make – especially if you have children or other investments in your relationship. Take your time, listen to your heart, and hold on to the peace that surpasses all understanding. Know that you can trust God – or whatever you conceive your Higher Power to be – to bring you through this stage of your life.
3 Stages of Love: Romance, Power Struggles, and Acceptance
The First Stage: Romance and Chemistry
Romantic love is driven by testosterone and estrogen; it creates strong physical attraction and sets the stage for emotional attachment. In this stage of love, endorphins soak your brain and you’re immersed in intense pleasure. The last thing you’re wondering about is whether your relationship is worth fighting for, because you know your man is perfect, ideal, made for you. In the romance phase you feel exhilarated and even “high” (similar to the feeling you get after eating melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate or enjoying a great workout. Endorphins!).
The Second Stage: Physical Attraction and Power Struggles
The “lovesick” phase is characterized by a loss of appetite, less sleep, and daydreams about your new love. In this stage of romantic love, the hormones dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are racing through your body and brain. You’re also trying to shape your lover into your ideal partner – which is where the power struggles come in. You’re becoming more realistic, and you and your boyfriend are working through everyday issues, such as which friends to spend time with or how to make relationship decisions. Even thought the initial intense chemistry is wearing off, you can confidently see the signs your boyfriend loves you.
The Third Stage: Emotional Attachment and Acceptance
In this phase of love, you’re aware of both positive and negative traits in your boyfriend. You decided you want to build a life together – get married, invest in homes and cars, have children. Confrontation is most likely to occur in this stage of love (though if you’re authentic and honest, it’ll also happen in the second phase). You and your partner might start wondering how to know if your relationship is worth fighting for. Should you stay committed to a healthy love relationship or call it quits?
One of my favorite books about relationships is ScreamFree Marriage: Calming Down, Growing Up, and Getting Closer. In it, Hal Runkel shows couples how to stay calm while dealing with intense marital conflicts. He reveals the key to creating and enjoying a deep, lifelong connection in marriage, and why your relationship is worth fighting for. It’s an awesome book for couples to read together, or for individual partners to work through on their own.
7 Ways to Know if Your Relationship is Worth Fighting For
Perhaps reading through the three Stages of Love has shown you that your relationship is worth fighting for. More likely, though, you’re still confused and unsure. It’s hard to know for sure where your relationship is headed, or if you and your partner are able and willing to fight.
The following seven facts about relationships will help you know if your relationship is worth fighting for…
1. You know that a relationship can’t bring you lasting happiness
“Current relationship studies explode the belief that relationships bring lasting happiness and are a panacea for all that ails us,” write Judith Wright and Bob Wright in The Heart of the Fight: A Couple’s Guide to Fifteen Common Fights, What They Really Mean, and How They Can Bring You Closer. “While relationships may boost happiness for a short time, they don’t lead to long-term fulfillment and intimacy.”
Do you expect your husband to change your level of happiness? Then you’ll be disappointed. When you’re trying to figure out if your relationship is worth fighting for, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a man or a relationship can or will make you happy. The only source of lasting peace and joy is the flow of divinity that is constantly humming above and around and through you.
2. You love who you and your husband are becoming as a couple
You know your relationship is worth fighting for if you’re in love with the idea of who you can be together, as a couple. Are you able to support each other as you both reach towards your ideal selves – both together and as individuals?
When you interact with your boyfriend or husband, are you encouraging him to become a better version of himself? In the healthiest relationships, both you and your partner push each other to be your best selves. You support good choices, healthy habits, successful lifestyles, and satisfying activities outside your relationship. You know your relationship is worth fighting for when you have the potential to be united and connected as a couple who wants to be better, love deeper, and spread joy and peace in the world.
3. You have rejected the idea of a “soul mate”
Relationship research shows that believing in and looking for a soul mate actually makes it more difficult to experience an intimate love relationship. A romantic ideal of the perfect partner – someone created just for you – will stop you from fighting for your relationship when the going gets tough. And the going will get tough. All couples go through relationship problems and dry spells.
The healthiest couples no longer search for tips on how to know if their relationship is worth fighting for. They’ve committed to learning and growing together, to resolving conflicts as they arise, and working on themselves and their relationships.
4. You aren’t hooked on the myth of compatibility
“Happy couples are no more or less compatible than unhappy couples,” write the Wrights in The Heart of the Fight. “Compatibility is transient; it comes and goes, and no couple is compatible all the time. Couples in blissful relationships work with their differences – and grow from them.”
Your relationship is worth fighting for if you share deep sense of meaning and purpose with your husband.Your relationship is worth fighting for if you have common values and a dedication to growing healthier emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Your relationship is worth fighting for if you aren’t distracted by the myth that you have nothing in common, and you’ve learned how to stop going back and forth in your relationship.
5. You know chemistry isn’t what counts in a relationship
The first stage of love is often fueled by passion and chemistry, feeling madly in love and out of control in a wild meeting of hearts, souls, bodies and spirits. This isn’t true love. This is a chemical rush, and it is fleeting. Chemistry and energy that flares quickly and burns brightly will die a quick and flaming death.
Here’s one of the best tips on how to know if your relationship is worth fighting for: you love your boyfriend or husband but you aren’t obsessed by him. You don’t feel lovesick or preoccupied by thoughts of him all day long. You feel supported and encouraged, and you know you’re supporting him and encouraging him to be his best self. You know your love is worth fighting for when you have built a strong relationship that is founded on healthy communication, conflict resolution, and joyful and painful experiences together.
6. You aren’t focused on how attracted you feel to him
“Who we are attracted to isn’t necessarily who is best for us and in fact, is often the opposite,” write the Wrights. “It’s an automatic response to people who unconsciously represent aspects of our relationship with our parents. The stronger the attraction, the more they represent either that quality itself or its mirror image.”
For example, if you had a distant father you may find yourself attracted to an emotionally unavailable man. If you had an abusive father you may be attracted to passive men. Our early relationship with our parents determines who we’re attracted to as adults. If you’re wondering how to know if your relationship is worth fighting for, you might look at the deeper issues that attracted you to your partner.
7. You know you need more than love
One of the biggest myths about relationships is that love is all you need.
If you believe a great relationship develops just because two people fall in love, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment! Even the healthiest most loving relationships need to be fought for. Real love doesn’t mean you won’t have issues to discuss or that you’ll never be hurt by your boyfriend or husband.
Real love means you’ll have to work on your relationship. No matter how much love and chemistry you feel for someone, you’ll still have to put time and effort into your relationship. If you’re wondering how to know if your relationship is worth fighting for, you need to let go of the myths and fairy tales about romance. Learn what true love really is.
Before we wrap it up – and before you tell me if your relationship is worth fighting for – let’s quickly review a few quick tips for a healthy, strong relationship.
3 Tips to Improve Your Relationship
“Relationships – of all kinds – are like sand held in your hand,” said Kaleel Jamison. “Held loosely, with an open hand, the sand remains where it is. The minute you close your hand and squeeze tightly to hold on, the sand trickles through your fingers. You may hold onto some of it, but most will be spilled.”
A relationship is like that. Held loosely, with respect and freedom for the other person, it is likely to remain intact. But hold too tightly, too possessively, and the relationship slips away and is lost.
1. Focus on the things you can control
Your attitude, your behavior, your words, and your energy are all things you have control over. If you want something to change in your relationship – and if you’re fighting for your relationship – then focus on your own attitudes or actions. Don’t try to change your boyfriend or force your husband to be something he’s not.
2. Express yourself honestly and kindly
Learn healthy ways to express your disappointment, anger, or frustration. Be honest and authentic, kind and loving. If you aren’t sure what you think and feel, take time to connect with yourself. Connect with God. Pay attention to what you’re happy and sad about.
3. Understand that your partner can’t “make” you feel anything
If you feel unfulfilled in your life or overwhelmed by relationship problems, look at your dreams and goals. Are you pursuing the life you were meant to live? Are you following your heart? Develop your personality, mind, and spirit. Figure out what will make you happy in this phase of romance, and start creating the life you were meant to live.
If you’re committed to fighting for your relationship, then learn how to build healthy communication patterns. Focus on your own spiritual and emotional growth, and you will be able to discern whether or not your relationship is worth fighting for.
Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.
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