Wellness is not just about relieving back pain and other physical symptoms. Wellness is also emotional health and spiritual health. Relationship health falls into the emotional wellness category, and if there is a feeling of unwellness in your relationship, it has a negative and pervasive effect on the rest of our lives.
In my practice it is becoming clear to me how common it is to not feel completely well in our relationships and marriages, it seems to be more common to be struggling than to be well. Furthermore, it is becoming clear to me, how many people are living in abusive relationships without being aware that it is abusive because it isn’t physically abusive…
Relationships go through a series of stages, some stages you go in and out of for the length of the relationship.
The first stage of a relationship is the infatuation stage. This stage can last for up to two years, usually somewhere between one month and two years.
In movies, the lead up, the conflict of the story usually brings us to this moment, this part of a relationship. The tingles and flutters, the feeling that you are soulmates, that you are meant to be together, even a feeling that physical touch is electrical, it all happens here. If you are being sexual, sex is effortlessly exciting and magical in this phase.
During this phase, it is easy to ignore red flags, especially if you don’t come from a place where you understand codependent issues, or the different forms of abuse. I have witnessed friends in this stage, completely ignore the fact that they are with an obvious control freak, abuser, or criminal. I have myself ignored multiple red flags in this phase. This is why education about abuse and codependency is so important, if you go in prepared, armed with knowledge, you will still be able to make healthy choices during this stage.
Being in love is much like a drug, it is very powerful, and it is as if the whole world stops just for you two. It can feel like your relationship was designed by fate, and that you have known each other before, and often it feels like coming home. Although being in love is a world apart from “real” “actual” or “true” love, it certainly feels like it is.
The infatuation stage requires no work to maintain the feelings of love, excitement, romance and desire. Maybe it was love at first sight, maybe it wasn’t, but at some point, perhaps during the first conversation, there was a spark, and a knowing that you would fall in love. There is no pretending that you don’t like each other, like there might be during dating.
In Swedish, the word for in love, or infatuated, is “förälskad”, the word “för” means “pre” or “before” and “älskad’ means loved. In other words, “before love”. I think this is a good word for it, because if all goes well, this stage is what leads to true love.
Infatuation is intense, and yet, it is superficial, and one day you will inevitably wake up, and the magical intensity is gone, and thank goodness for that. Imagine again, that love is like a drug, and what would happen if you stayed high forever more… It is completely unrealistic, and furthermore, it would be damaging to you body in the long run. What this stage does, is creating a bond that takes you both to the next level. Eventually, if the two of you are right for each other, it will take your love to a place where it can deepen.
Relationship health is worth investing your time in, you will never regret becoming more aware of yourself, and more aware of potential pitfalls like abuse or codependency. True love will make both of you better people, but dysfunction will make both of you miserable, or worse.