We often talk about the importance of balance. Today alone, I have had multiple conversations with folks about the importance of, and difficulty in, finding that balance… especially in relationships. When we begin a relationship with someone, usually things get off to a really good start. We are at our best and our partner is at their best. We are eager to please the other and put our needs on the back burner just to see our partner so happy. This is easy to do and comes fairly naturally. Some call this the honeymoon period. Sometimes seemingly too soon this period fades. We are left wondering where that feeling went and how is this the same person we fell in love with? This is the stage of adjustment. Adjusting to everyday life together, feeling more comfortable with each other, dealing with the day to day mundane issues of finances, coordinating schedules and taking care of household responsibilities. This is a time to increase communication, find new ways to connect, and check assumptions at the door. This is a time of making compromises. This is not an unexpected thing or bad thing but simply a time of change.
There can be great comfort and connection during this time. Or conversely, couples may find themselves questioning the strength or compatibility of the relationship. During this adjustment stage, differences may be highlighted and passion may dissipate from the previous levels you had been familiar with. Again, this is not all bad as this can be a new phase of working together to figure these things out. Passion becomes the comfort in consistency and deep appreciation for the other. Sometimes couples find themselves facing a very different reality though. They feel that they are compromising often, struggling to work on communication, blaming your partner, and casting this time in a negative light. Here, it is important to validate your partner and work on issues together. However, the tricky part that has been the crux of many therapy conversations recently has been that while validating your partner don’t forget to also validate yourself. Your feelings, needs, wants, and desires are just as important as your partner’s. Compromise is something we all have to do, sometimes a lot and sometimes a little. But, in validating your partner, don’t forget the fundamental things you need from the relationship as well. Don’t bend so much that you can’t get back to the place where your needs are represented in the relationship and being attended to. In any good relationship there is always room for the mutual respect of each partner’s perspectives. This is where the passion is.