Hitched: the three phases of love

Wednesday, July 29, 2020 2:03 pm
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Pastor Phil Ayres from Kingdomcity joins Jeziel in the studio to share wisdom on marriage and relationships. Phil has a passion for growing strong families, and is a goldmine of knowledge and advice. Phil says his passion stems from enduring many difficult years of marriage. After weathering the storm, his marriage is now stronger than ever, and he loves to share his expertise on marriage, relationships, and phases of love.


What do you do when you love your partner, but you feel like you’re no longer in love with them? Does the feeling of love change over time? The short answer is, yes. A lot of what Ps Phil speaks about comes from the book by Dr John Gottman, Principia Amoris: The New Science of Love. In the book, Dr Gottman explains there’s three natural phases of love. There are choice points where love may either progress to a deeper place, or deteriorate.

What are the three phases?

Falling in love.

Phase one is the most obvious.  Ps Phil calls it the “chemistry phase”, but not because you and your new love have such great chemistry together. It’s actually because many chemicals contribute to the feeling of love. Here’s just a couple of them:

Phenyleteylamine (PEA): this is a natural form of amphetamine that our bodies produce, and is sometimes called the “molecule of love”

Pheremones: a chemical that is unique to each person, but contributes to an inexplicable sense of well being and comfort

Oxytocin: sometimes called the “cuddle hormone”. It compels us to get close, and it’s secreted when we’re physically close to someone we like (or love)

This phase, as nice as it is, is often accompanied by poor judgement. This can lead to people ignoring red flags. Luckily,phase two often addresses this…

Building Trust

There are two questions that sum up phase two: “will you be there for me?” and “can I trust you?” These questions are in fact the basis of almost all conflicts newlyweds experience. The answers to these questions will indicate if there is a secure or insecure attachment in the relationship. For this reason, phase two is sometimes known as the conflict phase. Frustration, exasperation, sadness, and sometimes fury punctuate this phase. Thus, the future success of a relationship can be predicted by the nature of their second phase. If the ratio of positiviy to negativity exceeds 5:1 in conflict discussions, you’re looking good.

Are there strategies to get through the trust building phase?

It wouldn’t be a lesson from Ps Phil without some practical tips to try at home. the trick here is to learn to work with your conflicts and tune in to your spouses difference. In short, remember to ATTUNE:

  • A – Awareness of your partner’s pain
  • T – Tolerance that there are always two valid viewpoints in negative emotions
  • T – Turning towards one partner’s need
  • U – Understanding your partner
  • N – Non-defensive listening
  • E – Empathy

Building commitment and loyalty

The third an final phase is all about building true commitment and loyalty in your relationship. In other words, this is the phase that makes a deeper love last a lifetime. The crux of this is power distribution. The commitment and loyalty grows when both parties feel an even distribution of power between them. With this, the sense of value and safety grows.

To hear all of Ps Phil’s tips, check out the podcast below:

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