The Need For Diverse Interests At The Alignment Stage

by Elaine Sihera - Date: 2007-04-20 - Word Count: 512 Share This!

Unfortunately, the alignment period is also the stage which coincides with people reaching their forties or fifties; when career fortunes are changing, and not always for the better; when children are leaving home to begin their own lives and when insecure people of low esteem start to look back at the past with longing, to bemoan what they did not do and wish things were different. A time of feeling secure on one hand but rather unsettled on the other. A time which could bring fresh trouble as yearnings rise to the surface.

The danger now is of the couple's expectations diverging and each following her/his own interest without ever meeting in the middle, especially for the congenial types. Even though they both share a history, there is a gradual realisation that each partner's path in life may be different. The physical side of the relationship might have settled down and become mundane and predictable but the emotional turmoil could be just about to begin! Experts say this is the second most common stage for counselling or divorce.

The problem is an over-involvement with the outside world and the relationship itself being neglected. One example is of a partner being caught up in the responsibilities of work while the other is engrossed in clubs and voluntary activities. Or even worse, one partner being denied sex because the other does not feel like it anymore but unrealistically expects their spouse to do without that essential part of the relationship for the rest of their life. That is precisely when partners are likely to look outside for comfort, appreciation and relief.

The Need to Nurture Each Other
Relationships must be continually nurtured to have any chance of longevity. As one advisor says, there needs to be time for four parties in the relationship: "For you, for me, for us and for them", which is difficult sometimes, but choices must be made. She suggests a litmus test of where you may be in your relationship just now: "If your spouse and children are away for a while, who gets the first hug upon their return?" If it's the dog, she advises that it's time to take a better look at the 'us' part of the equation! Non-alignment creeps in because, at first, it feels good to stop trying to change your partner and to accept him for what he is, but life is also about growing and no one feels comfortable living with a fossilised relic.

As we grow older we also become more intolerant of what we dislike and whatever irritates us. So, should the alignment prove less than satisfying to both parties, they will either learn a grudging respect for each other or they will revert to Stage 3 to be plagued by greater conflict, resentment and hostility - exactly what destroyed our own union. The challenge every couple faces in this stage is that not all their expectations can be realised. But if they are entirely happy with each other, and their own lives and achievements, they will move gracefully into the final stage of the partnership.

Related Tags: friends, friendship, commitment, happiness, respect, quality time, interests, alignment, congruence

ELAINE SIHERA (Ms Cyprah - and is an expert author, public speaker, media contributor and lifestyle columnist. The first Black graduate of the OU and a post-graduate of Cambridge University. Elaine is a CONFIDENCE guru and a Personal Empowerment, Relationships and Diversity Consultant. Author of: 10 Easy Steps to Growing Older Disgracefully; 10 Easy Steps to Finding Your Ideal Soulmate!; Money, Sex & Compromise and Managing the Diversity Maze, among others (available on as well as her personal website). Also the founder of the British Diversity Awards and the Windrush Men and Women of the Year Achievement Awards. She describes herself as, "Fit, Fabulous, Over-fifty and Ready to Fly!"

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