I’ve ridden one merry go round that had a brass ring. The object was to grab the ring as went past and win the ultimate prize. And that leads to me to the ultimate prize in relationships, the sixth stage.

Acceptance is the sixth and final stage in a committed relationship as I’ve described it. At this stage in the relationship each person is taking responsibility for their own needs and for their individual lives, while also providing emotional and physical support for their partner. There is a high level of respect, trust, warmth, and friendship, emotional and physical intimacy is present, and the couple has a high level of balance between personal autonomy and union. While conflicts still occur, the couple knows how to resolve them relatively quickly. There are few resentments, and both are aware of issues that they’ve agreed to disagree on; they are no longer a divisive factor. Knowledge about themselves and each other is high, baggage has been explored, discussed, and resolved, and there are few surprises. Couples at this stage know themselves, each other, and know what to expect. They accept themselves and their partners, with no denial or fantasy involved. They work effectively to stay connected, they communicate with each other openly and honestly, and also maintain their own individual identities.

Sounds great, almost utopian, and certainly a goal to shoot for, but there is a catch. I don’t think any couple can maintain this state indefinitely because people and their environments change. Expecting change to not happen is an unrealistic pipe dream. Change will happen, and no one can stop it. But by this point in a relationship both parties should be able to cope with change, support the other, and together work through the change that brought about a crisis.

What’s the chance of a crisis, a sudden change, disrupting the relationship? Pretty high; it will happen. What’s the chance that a sudden change will destroy the relationship? Pretty low in this stage of a relationship. But it didn’t happen out of the blue. Both people have gone through the previous stages, they’ve learned about themselves and each other, and have put in the work to make their relationship flourish. Their prize, that brass ring, a warm, open, and trusting relationship, is hard to grab and may be hard to hold onto. But its worth it.

Despite the stresses and changes your relationship can flourish. You can get the brass ring, but you have to put in the work to grab it and hang on to it.

Some people do it on their own. More power to them. Others may need some help. If you have questions or need some help in making your relationship stronger send me an email. Ask for a free consultation and include your availability over the next week. I’ll get back to you within 24 hours with a day and time that works for both of us.