The Relationship Possibility by Herb Tannenbaum, Ph.D.

Over the years, my work with couples has clarified that relationships change and evolve overtime. Although every couple is unique and face their own set challenges, O have observed, nonetheless, predictable sequences in a relationship’s evolution and development. There are at least four key stages: Romantic Love, The Power Struggle, Stability and Commitment and Co-created Consciousness.  Each stage has its own illusions, slippery slopes and potentialities. By recognizing the illusions couples are better able to navigate the slippery slopes and fulfill the potentialities that were sensed in the early stages of the relationship.

The ROMANTIC LOVE stage typically initiates the relationship and allows two people to bond. In this initial stage of the relationship, partners believe that they have discovered someone special and that the delicious elixir of romance will last forever. As a culture, we still idealize Romantic Love and hold onto the dream of finding the right person and living happily ever after with very little effort or attention to the relationship. However, as everyday reality chips away at these hopes and dreams, the POWER STRUGGLE eclipses Romantic Love and pain and disillusionment inevitably arise.

The erosion of Romantic Love leads to a disappointment that fuels the Power Struggle. Like Romantic Love, the Power Struggle is defined by illusion.  The illusion creates a mindset that if only the other person would change or be fixed, we could restore Romantic Love, feel fulfilled and have the relationship of our dreams. Holding onto the illusion, we fail to find a way for the relationship to grow and expand beyond the Power Struggle. What is needed for the relationship to grow is vision and intention. It is then possible for each partner to shift from a position of self-absorption to empathy; from blame to ownership and from being a source of pain to creating reliable safety, comfort and dignity for the other. These skills of VISION AND INTENTION sare part of a larger skill set that enable couples to forge a relationship that cecomes a venue for mutual healing and lifelong growth.

Without a compass or a roadmap, it is difficult for couples to find their way through these inevitable stages of relationship evolution and to see beyond the illusions. Overtime, no matter how well intended, couples cannot do this alone. A set of principles, skills and attitudes that can be learned, practiced and incorporated into everyday life providing a sense of path and directions. Couples need a lifeline.


The Getting The Love You ant workshop developed by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and        Helen La Kelly Hunt, Ph.D. offers a lifeline through a curriculum that educates and inspires couples to fine-tune and expand their skills so they can effectively and intentionally navigate the challengers of adult love relationships. I invite you to participate in my next  GETTING THE LOVE YOU WANT workshop that will be held in Amagansett, New York on September 17-18. For further information go to my website or contact me directly at



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