Forming, Storming and Norming, as the Imagine Hope therapists have discussed, are the first three important stages in relationships that help us move towards intimacy. As Natalie shared in Wednesday's blog, Norming is where you have gotten through the healthy conflict (Storming) and know each others perspectives, expectations and where you "fit in" to the relationship. The fourth stage of relationships following Norming is Performing. Performing is where, because you have seen and heard your partner share deeply and from the heart (Storming), you feel safe enough to let your walls down and continue to be vulnerable in the future. When storming and norming are successful, it allows both people to continue to open up in the relationship and share deeply. This is what creates such a "connected" feeling that couples who go through healthy Storming share with us in their counseling sessions. Often times, couples will skip the Storming stage of the relationship and "pretend" that everything is connected and good, while really keeping important feelings and thoughts inside. Doing this results in a false sense of connection and doesn't truly allow the couple to be in the "Performing" stage of the relationship. Performing is simply continuing to be real with each other, because of the safety that the other stages of the relationship have provided. Performing is where the best attributes of each person are highlighted, appreciated and embraced, because of the hard work from the other stages.
It's important to remember that couples are continuously going through the stages of a relationship from day to day and week to week. Once you get to "Performing", it doesn't mean that you quit working! It's common to go back and forth through these stages, and only deepens intimacy on down the road.
Do you recognize what stage of relationships you are in with your partner? What are your roadblocks?
As always, thank you for joining Imagine Hope this week! Next week will be talking about four common triggers to "relapse" in counseling. We hope to see you then!
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.