Sooner or later all relationships run into trouble. Sometimes the trouble is so severe that one or both partners believe that they cannot get through it; this is the definition of a crisis, something you think you will not get through. The good news is that there are common patterns in relationship crises, and when you become aware of these patterns you are more likely to find a way through. The bad news is that the way out of all crises is for both people in the relationship to face up to something that they would prefer not to face. I’ll start with the good news.
When two people ‘fall in love’ there are usually two things operating. The first is that each is able to see the ‘divine’ other and it is always irresistible. The two people literally glow with love and appear stunning, not only to their partners but to outside observers. The second thing that is operating is that the unconscious of each person sees in the other an opportunity to work out a childhood trauma, usually involving a parent. For example after finding myself in difficult relationships repeatedly I twigged that I was falling in love with rejecting women – because unconsciously I was wanting to resolve the trauma of being rejected by my mother. In the beginning the first aspect of the relationship dominates – the being in love with the divine other. But, as the saying goes, once the honeymoon is over then the second aspect of attraction comes to dominate – and each partner becomes progressively more frustrated as they are unable to resolve their unconscious material – largely because it remains unconscious.
The honeymoon period of a relationship usually lasts a couple of years, sometimes more, sometimes less. When it comes to an end and the unconscious material starts to dominate then the sex tends to become worse, arguments start and each person wonders “what happened to the person I fell in love with? where have they gone?” Because each is unconsciously seeking to resolve something, the next phase of relating usually becomes a power struggle. In a power struggle each person is trying to ‘make’ the other person change or become someone different from how they are. In power struggles each person will make use of whatever ‘weapons’ they have available. The most common ones used are sex and money, but absolutely anything can be employed in power struggles.
When the power struggle gets ugly then each person feels extremely hurt and lashes out and hurts the other. Each person blames the other for all the difficulties in the relationship and each has a story in which they are a helpless victim. Depending how volatile each person is, the escalation of hurt and blame can be very rapid or can take years, but eventually both people feel so hurt that they consider ending the relationship to be less painful than continuing it. Around this point the couple will be in a crisis.
So if this is the pattern that leads to a relationship crisis what is the way out? There are several ingredients, each of which is covered in one of the menu options of this section of the website. It is generally best to aim to reverse the sequence that led to the crisis.
So first stop blaming and hurting each other, this involves changing your story about what has been going on.
Second agree to end the power struggle between you, this requires each of you to put down your weapons.
Third use communication processes to understand what each of you is feeling.
Fourth use personal awareness processes to uncover the unconscious material that each of you are trying to work out in the relationship.
And finally be reminded of the person with whom you fell in love.
It is unlikely that using each of the techniques described once will calm everything down fully, but it might show you that the situation can be rescued and that there is a way out. If you do want your relationship to survive then prioritise setting aside sufficient undisturbed time to complete at least one cycle of the techniques described here. Alternatively there is an emergency procedure for rescuing relationships described here (Rescue Relationships v1); the process takes a minimum of two days and has a proven record of providing a lasting resolution to many relationship crises. If, on the other hand, you have already decided that you do not want the relationship to continue then just say so and stop wasting your time reading this material.