There are five phases in going from war to peace in a relationship:
CRISIS - CONFLICT - CO-EXIST - COOPERATE - COMMUNE
1. Crisis: This phase is characterized by hostility. The couple engages in frequent, intense fights or they are very disengaged, preparing to give up on the relationship.
2. Conflict: Most couples in conflict don’t listen well. Each partner is intent on getting his or her point across, but doesn’t understand what the other person is saying.
3. Co-exist: In this phase, the partners live alongside one another and get along superficially, but, they still aren’t on the same page. Many couples spend most of their married lives in this phase.
4. Cooperate: At this point, both partners are working together and are happier. While the relationship is generally peaceful, one or both people may still be dissatisfied because they are missing the intimacy they long for.
5. Commune: To commune with your partner and establish a deep sense of community with the person you love is extremely satisfying. It is what most couples hope for, although many never reach this deeper level of intimacy.
When you want to heal and grow your relationship, think of taking one step to the right:
- If you are in crisis, work on stopping the immediate crisis, ceasing the open hostility. Agree to stop the destructive action of yelling, name-calling, blaming, and fault-finding.
- If you are in conflict, seek to co-exist with one another by listening to each other’s concerns. Identify each person’s agenda and identify your differences.
- If you are co-existing, seek cooperation and win-win situations. Agree to work together, choosing common ground and acting to further both of your interests.
- And, if you are currently cooperating, take the next step to community by building an intimate relationship where you commune with one another. Learn to celebrate the ways you each differ and celebrate your common interests. Identify your partner’s strengths and how they complement yours. Focus on the positives and give positive feedback to one another.