Have you heard The Egg Story? It’s simple enough. We begin our relationships as two egocentric individuals. Separate eggs, each from our own egg cartons. Then? We fall in love…and everything changes.
We begin to do things together…everything together. Spending as much time as we can at each other’s side. We blend our lives. We are…in love.
Stage 1 of the Egg Story: Scrambled eggs
In the beginning, we’re excited. Excited to see one another. Every. Single. Time.
Our hearts race.
We’re happy to do whatever the other likes…happy to please, to do different things. Me? I went to concerts of bands I didn’t even like. Don’t get me wrong, I love live music; but the toe-tapping, soulful beat I prefer was silenced for a couple of hours. Did I care? Not in the least! Being with my new love — that was music to my ears.
We choke down food we don’t like. We go to events that before, we’d have never been caught dead at. We watch each other do whatever they do — sports, dance, singing, anything. And we smile the entire time because…well? Because…we’re in love!
We spend money (far too much, in some cases). We buy each other gifts, whether or not we can afford it. The price tag means nothing. No-thing.
We go out…movies, picnics, out with friends.
And the sex? It’s great! And if it’s not? Who cares? It’s love!
These two eggs are entirely scrambled — so mixed up in each other’s lives, we immerse ourselves in each other. Our bodies and minds become scrambled. We don’t know what we’re doing, and we don’t really care.
Truly — we’re willing to do anything for love. Without question. Without hesitation.
We’re so in love, we can’t conceive how it could ever change.
We even look at others who appear to be no longer in love and we say to each other, “We’ll never be like them!”
Have you ever stopped to think what would happen if we all remained in this scrambled-egg-like state? Can you imagine that world?
It’d be full of hungry, unfocused people, only willing to give their love, time and effort to one person.
How would the world function? How would we function?
It wouldn’t. We wouldn’t!
Stage 2 of the Egg Story: The separation
While real scrambled eggs can’t go in the other direction, in love, scrambled eggs do just that. They begin…to un-scramble.
The wonderful, innocent glow of initial love begins to recede and reality re-enters the picture.
Suddenly you can’t do anything right.
Putting on makeup before he gets up no longer seems necessary. Plus, it’s exhausting. He’ll live.
Driving from one end of the city to the other, just to drop her off at an appointment no longer makes sense (it’s just not efficient!). That’s what Uber’s for anyway, right?
He says, “Sex tonight?”
She’s too tired. Or perhaps the other way around.
He wants to buy a new car. She says, “Not a chance…we can’t afford it!”
She says, “Let’s visit my parents?”
He says, “Huh? We just saw them at Christmas!”
Things that were once cute and quirky become…well…really quite annoying.
Problems that once appeared small are now mountainous and appear unsolvable:
- The cap on the toothpaste that never gets put back on.
- The knickers that are always on the floor next to the clothes basket but never in it.
- The toilet seat that seems forever lodged in the up position.
- The inevitable empty toilet roll.
But hold on just one second…it goes both ways, ladies!
- The make-up wipes on the bathroom counter.
- They honey-do lists.
- The constant ‘reminders’ of things he was (of course) going to do anyway.
Making dinner is no longer ‘together time’. Before, someone peeled, while the other prepped. What happened to that cute arrangement?!
Household chores? Forget about it. Impressing each other with ‘adulting behaviour’ is no longer needed.
The infatuation of the first stage? It’s dead. Perhaps for both partners, or maybe one reaches that point before the other. That’s even tougher.
We begin to separate back into our own eggs. Separate. Solid. Shelled. Maybe even shell shocked.
We return to our ‘normal’ thoughts, ideas, and behaviours.
We begin to reveal very different likes and dislikes to those we communicated in the first stage. The result? Often, we seem to be a different person from the one the other person thought they knew and loved.
Some interpret this phase as deception. They feel betrayed.
My husband Paul had to realise I didn’t really like his taste in music, movies, surfing, or food. And him? He didn’t really like going out — to the beach, picnics, shopping.
For me and Paul, it took about 6 months for us to hit Stage 2. And boy was it a mighty jolt.
But what we realised…what we knew…was that we still loved each other.
We had many disagreements and arguments as we found a way to our ‘new normal’. We hung in there and discovered something interesting…there were things we actually liked about this stage too!
If you look at Stage 2 for what it really is, it’s a morphing of the relationship…into a stronger, more realistic version that is necessary for sustained growth and maturity.
Now, I’ve heard rumours that some couples never reach Stage 2 — they remain blissfully infatuated for their entire lives. That’s beautiful. I’ve yet to meet these strange creatures, but I am happy for them. Most of us, however, are mere mortals. So, what happens to a relationship when it reaches this second stage?
Do people break up? Sadly, sometimes they do.
Do some people stay together, but live with unhappiness and resentment as their relationship deteriorates? Again, sadly, sometimes they do.
We all know couples in both situations.
But…does anyone find happiness and maintain their love through this stage and beyond?
Thankfully, yes…sometimes they do! It is possible to have an equable, happy relationship when Stage 2 of love is over.
It’s a different love. A more mature love.
A love that transcends how the world uses the word today. Nowadays, we ‘love’ everything:
- “I love these shoes.”
- “I love your dress!”
- “I love pizza.”
- “I love sleeping.”
But the love that comes as we wade through Stage 2 of the Egg Story is the love that is associated with a primary, human, emotional need. If we accept that first obsessional stage of love for what it was — a necessary high in our initial journey of love with our partner — then Stage 2 is the time to pursue real love.
But, without tools and strategies to help us navigate this stage of love, it can too often lead to relationship breakdown, separation and even divorce.
It’s work. It calls for awareness. But is it not worth the effort?
You need to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and see the world through their eyes — anticipate their reactions and put their needs and wants first.
Early in our relationship, I loved planning social occasions for Paul and myself. But then we’d always end up in an argument over how frequent they were and then we’d end up doing nothing at all. I was confused, frustrated and angry. I wondered, “What’s his problem?”
I had no idea what to do about it until I learned about temperaments. I realised how different Paul and I were in our personalities. And I realised that I wasn’t thinking of Paul’s personality at all in planning what I thought of as our fun, social life. I was thinking about me. Not us.
Once I realised my constant social plans were not what he wanted (nor liked), I began to take his thoughts and feelings into account. It was work. Hard work. I didn’t want to change; but I did. I made sure we went out only once per weekend. And he was happy if I got my ‘friend fix’ at times when we weren’t doing anything.
Did I get what I wanted? On one hand, no. I loved seeing people. But on the other hand, yes! I got a happy partner who felt loved and cared about because I had put him first.
It’s about making the choice to expend energy and effort to benefit another person, knowing their life will be enriched by the actions you take. Knowing this, you too can find satisfaction…the satisfaction of truly loving and caring for another person.
True love cannot begin until the infatuated ‘in-love’ experience has run its course. In doing so, your reward will be to have truly loved and cared for another person who loved you in return.
There you have it. The Egg Story.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can manage your important relationships with people of different temperaments, check out my book Who Is This Monster (or Treasure) in My House?