“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore”

The Disconnection Stage of Love

By JOHN WAGNER, M.S., L.M.H.C., N.C.C.

There is a gradual movement from the romantic stage, which can last from six months to two years, to disconnection. One of the biggest illusions in our culture is that the honeymoon stage will last forever, if you just find the right partner. We begin to discover this disconnection stage through disappointment with our partner which leads to disillusionment leading to coercion and then to an impasse.

Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand sang “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore” which tells the story of couples disconnecting.

You don’t bring me flowers, you don’t sing me love songs
You hardly talk to me anymore when I come through the door at the end of the day
I remember when you couldn’t wait to love me, used to hate to leave me
Now after lovin me, let I now
When its good for you and your feelin alright
Well I’ll just roll over and turn out the lights
You don’t bring me flowers anymore
It used to be so natural, talk about forever
But used to be’s don’t count anymore, they just lay on the floor till we sweep them away
Baby I remember all the things you taught me, I learned how to laugh and I learned how to cry
Well I learned how to love and I learned how to lie
So you think I could learn how to tell you goodby
You don’t bring me flowers anymore
Well you think I could learn how to tell you goodby
You don’t say you need me, you don’t sing me love songs
You don’t bring me flowers anymore.

Couples do not want divorce, they want an end to pain. It is so difficult to understand how someone we could have been so in love with, a relationship that made us feel “brand new” could get to the place where “you don’t bring me flowers anymore”. We can learn how to have that dream relationship if we are willing to go through the work to find that.

The individual who is anxiously attached will appear as clinging, have difficulty with separation from their partner; need consistent contact; tend to idealize their partners and overlook their partner’s faults to avoid separation. An avoidantly attached individual will attach to objects and work as well on projects, be uncomfortable in social situations, will tend to withdraw and become defensive.

This state of impasse leads to disconnect from the person they were so in love with during the honeymoon stage of love. This is the point where the couple could decide to leave each other through divorce or evolve into an invisible divorce and stay married for the kids, church, God, or family. The problem with leaving the relationship is that we eventually meet someone else and start the whole process again or the couple stays in a passionless marriage. Neither is the will of God for He says in Deuteronomy that He wants our marriages to be like “heaven on earth”.

I really believe that what happens as we move out of that limerence state, we begin to see negatives that we could not see before. It is almost as if the “love cocktail” blindfolds us so that we are not aware of these negatives. Below the surface we are aware, but we do not want to acknowledge it. After a while the negatives seem to be overwhelming. I really believe that most of the positive traits are still there, we just cannot see them. That is why we can act a completely different way towards others outside of the relationship.

Often there is conflict about issues like control, neatness, doing one’s part, closeness or space, feeling unimportant or alone, etc. We often find ourselves needing to be right during conflict. The danger signs gradually begin to appear. John Gottman calls them the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”. They are criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. Through his over 20 year research of what makes marriages work, Gottman has been able to develop with 93% accuracy, a couple’s potential of staying away from divorce. He does this by hearing how the couple deal with conflict. When he hears communication style using the four
horsemen, the relationship is on rocky ground if something doesn’t change.

Actually, this is the greatest opportunity to grow into the individuals God wants us to become. Harville Hendrix states that “conflict is growth trying to happen”. If we can learn to meet the needs of our partner the way they need them met and not the way we think they need, then we can have the dream relationship we have longed for.
The message we send in the “honeymoon stage” is “if you leave me I will die”. The message we send in the disconnect stage is “if you don’t leave me I’ll kill you”. The real answer is to evolve to the third stage of love, unconditional love.

EXCERPTED FROM JOHN’S UPCOMING BOOK
“HOW DO YOU KEEP THE MUSIC PLAYING”
Find out how to pre-order an autographed copy by calling John personally at the LifeWorks Group office- 407.647.7005

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