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Stage of Love #4: Re-Commitment - I Do, And I Mean It This Time!

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Stage of Love #4: Re-Commitment - I Do, And I Mean It This Time!

Couples reaching the 4th stage of love have been through a great adventure together. They have shared many ups and downs of life, weathered victories and losses, built a family and possibly, raised kids together. The middle age is knocking on the door. Many of the familiar roles become secondary. The career has been, for the most part, established, the kids are grown, and for the first time in many years the partners spend most of the time together as a couple.

Whether we chose to raise children or not, the middle age is a time of reevaluation. We slow down and take stock. We compare the ideals of our youth to the realities of our present. In relationships we might find ourselves realizing that through the years we have grown apart and have very little in common with our partner. This stage of reevaluation can result in the decision to leave the relationship and pursue the dreams and aspirations we let go off earlier in favor of raising family and building a life together.

Alternatively, this can be a time of rekindling of the romantic love – a new honeymoon. Here we are freed from the majority of parental responsibilities, we have established a clear sense of self in the relationship and we gained a great understanding of our beloved. With lessening of the external demands on our time we have the opportunity to become lovers again. This can be the time of great emotional intimacy and reinvigorated sexual connection.

Two mature and self-sufficient individuals choose each other again. We reconnect and recommit to the relationship. The sense of being together and separate – the paradox – is held easily. Individuality and individual differences are values by each other and seen as enriching. Self-reflection and self-awareness are part of this stage. We are able to examine our relationship and take personal responsibility whenever conflict arises. We are curios about the experience and perspective of our beloved. Mutual awareness and appreciation mark this stage of love.

Couples at this stage seek couples therapy to gain insight into their sexuality and learn the language of mature sex. Couples might also reach out to couples therapist to receive help with the process of reevaluation of the relationship. If one partner expresses desire to leave, the other may ask for couples therapy as a way to either save the relationship or reach a proper closure.

One of my online couples therapy clients, Dan and Danielle, reached out after 25 years of marriage. They described moving to California from the northeast and spending last two decades between San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, raising kids, building careers, and achieving success in both. Now the kids are grown and it is just the two of them in the house. The focus of therapy was in finding ways to reconnect, rekindle intimacy and embrace the long-forgotten role of lovers and playmates.

Markers of the Recommitment stage are mutual appreciation, personal responsibility, rekindling of emotional and sexual intimacy, shift of focus onto self-actualization and pursuit of interests we had to postpone in favor of raising family.

The Task of this stage is to reconnect with our beloved and recommit to the relationship. Here we can promise “till death do us part” and genuinely mean it.

The Obstacle here is to shift back into the role of a lover and to move from mutual acceptance of our differences to appreciation of them.

Failure of recommitment stage can be the result of realization that the relationship has exhausted itself. After many years together partners have little left in common. Here the pursuit of self-actualization can lead to the end of the relationship.

Duration – Recommitment is much shorter then Partnership stage. Once partners are able to reconnect as lovers, the transition into the 5th stage of mature love is easy.

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