LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XIX: THE INGREDIENTS OF ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS

LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XIX: THE INGREDIENTS OF ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS

We discovered that virtually all long-term relationships face a storming stage as a normal part of the couple’s ongoing development and maturation. Storming cyclically reoccurs throughout relationships with movement to various stages and when two developmental plates collide. Unabated storming typically results in either a remarriage or recommitment from two partners to make the relationship work or to divorce. With each remarriage or restructuring of the relationship, the enduring couple develops increased resiliency to brave new storms inevitably ahead.

Once a couple has weathered a storming phase, they set norms or implicit rules by which they can live and work with one another in an effective and interpersonally-gratifying manner. Norms of mutuality and dominance between the two partners are set that usually differ from the old patterns followed by their parents and families. Boundaries are established regarding discussable and nondiscussable issues both with each other and with other people about themselves. Enduring couples frankly and honestly discuss without each other’s weaknesses without serious consequences. They seem to view the maintenance of their relationship with their partner as more important than the maintenance of any other relationship in their lives.

The men and women we interviewed generally suggest that the performing phase is typically established once norms have been set. Enduring couples find their own special ways to reaffirm the power of their long term, intimate relationships. They tend to do so with small rituals or habits rather than major events or major celebrations. During the performing stage, enduring couples frequently readjust and experience one or more remarriages with their partner. They wrestle with issues of enmeshment and disengagement between them and eventually achieve a balance between these two. During this phase, they struggle with interconnectedness between the couple and the outside world, and eventually identify as either an open or closed couple.

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William Bergquist

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant, professor in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 45 books, and president of a graduate school of psychology. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations. His graduate school (The Professional School of Psychology: www.psychology.edu) offers Master and Doctoral degrees in both clinical and organizational psychology to mature, accomplished adults.

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