The third state of human psychic development (according to Erik Erikson, a social psychologist), is called INDEPENDENCE. In childhood, this is when we go to school and become somewhat independent, discovering our autonomy and independence. It's our first time away from home, and we have to face issues without mom and dad there to take care of things. As we learn to do this successfully, we grow more self assured and build our self-esteem. In relationships, there is no intimacy without autonomy. When we reach this third stage of our relationships, it can be a threat to our partners, as they are not needed as much as in the first and second stages. Depending on the mental health and maturity of each partner determines how successful they work through this stage.
The fourth stage (where few couples never reach with 60% of divorces taking place in the second and third stage) is called interdependence. It takes years for this stage to mature. This is when each partner supports the autonomy of the other and enriches each other's life, rather than completes or competes with it. This takes, maturity, self esteem, insight into our own stuff, owning our own stuff and becoming enlightened. It was Socrates who said, "A life unexamined is not a life worth living." Most people require a therapist to help couples get to this stage. The good news, it can be done!
All through these stages, the most common reactions to the anger and hurt that arise in all relationships, (except of course if two people agree never to disagree, and that is not an authentic relationship) is getting turned off. That is when sexual dysfunction raises its nasty head. This can happen to both men and women. Sexual dysfunction is one manifestation of a relationship turned sour. It may not be the relationship's fault. It may be the folks that live inside the relationship that have not done their family of origin work; that is the unresolved issues that have been dragged into the present from the past.
Most issues that are the baggage people carry in their gunny sack will get played out in the relationship. If these issues included any abuse whether, physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, or other, abandonment or neglect that was connected with either partner, or worse, if both, then the relationship can become a killing field. This is why it is so important that these matters be treated just like a broken bone. If left untreated, they won't heal on their own and will only worsen, potentially destroying the relationship.
It is important to note that most of us come into relationships with unrealistic expectations, and when our unrealistic expectations are not met by our significant other, that's when the disappointment, disillusionment and bitterness is born. Our sexuality changes as these expectations are not realized. Changing those expectations are paramount to a successful outcome. Poor role modeling and unrealistic expectations are perhaps the two most common reasons why most relationships fail.
It might be worth mentioning that with the onslaught of Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and other sexually stimulating drugs manufactured for men with nothing as yet to match it with for the female gender, widens the gap in the natural process of aging. Men can maintain their sexual prowess with the help of Viagra, and women are left in their natural aging process without chemical support. This has been a pandemic sexual issue in couples in their fifties. Women are slowing down, and with the assistance of Viagra, men are still performing as they did in their twenties, thirties and forties. The aging factor specifically pertaining to sexuality no longer maintains compatible.
In addition, living in the world today with all it's stressors and variables that we cannot control, contributes to the lack of longevity in relationships. What used to be "forever, until death do us part" is less than 60% in marriages today. Our fast world, with high speed technology and high speed advancements, has left the human spirit panting and exhausted just trying to keep up with the times. Our minds and soulful content can't expand as fast as our technology is moving. We barely speak to each other. Email and texting has become the cornerstone of communication. This leaves us with little time to nurture each other and keep our happiness in perspective.
Perhaps our recent economic crisis might be a double edge blade. It may have provided a time for us to slow down, spend less, work together and develop a team effort to move forward both economically and spiritually. This could become a blessing for many couples. It forces us to re-examine what is really important. It makes us become aware of our strengths as well as our weaknesses. Adversity can strengthen our relationships or destroy them: It is our choice.
In the following weeks, see how couples worked through the issues that nearly destroyed their relationships and how the healing raised their level of intimacy both in and out of the bedroom. The stories are true with some facts changed to protect the confidentiality. Not all the stories have resolution, while some are still a work in progress. I highlighted sexual dysfunction, which is most common to women who are struggling in their relationships. I am sure that you can find yourself in one or more of these stories.