Are you stuck in the dead-zone?

All couples go through it: the dead-zone. Most of us don’t even know it exists, because most of what we learn about relationships is centered around the first two phases: romance and power struggle. Intimate relationships are a platform for clearing out your old stories and belief systems, and stepping more fully into the life you were meant to lead. And while you can do all that without having a partner, being in a relationship accelerates your growth. Why? Because there is no where to hide! No matter how you try, your partner will call you out, whether gently or dramatically. And the messages may be clear or convoluted, loud or soft, to the point or round-about. No matter how your partner communicates with you, when things are not working, one of you will be the first to sense it. If you are the one sensing it, you are probably also the one with the capacity to heal it.

The dead zone is one of the phases of intimate relationships as taught by Dr. Chuck Spezzano in his relationship model through the Psychology of Vision. Dr. Spezzano teaches that the dead zone is the phase right before true partnership, the shift between independence to interdependence, and the only way to true love. In order to get through the dead-zone, we must first understand what it is, and then learn tools to move through it.

What is the dead zone?

The dead zone is a dismal place that you may have visited before in your life. In it, you will find numbness, boredom, and disconnection. The dead zone is when your husband starts feeling more like a brother or a room-mate, when the passion is gone and though you are fine as companions, nothing is getting you excited about your once-true-love. If you and your partner have similar personalities and generally get along with each other, your relationship will spend significant time in the dead zone after every power struggle phase. The dead zone is where one of your will be tempted to have an affair, and may even act on those urges because you so desperately want to feel alive again. Couples can get stuck in the dead-zone for months, years, or even decades, if they don’t identify it as a stage of relationship and get some tools to move through it gracefully and without blame.

How do I know if I am in the dead zone?

In the dead-zone, you are not motivated to give more to your partner, and you will often feel over-worked or exhausted. That is because the dead-zone is a place where you have decided to block your own passion for life, and the juice you need to keep you going is all gone. You know you are in the dead-zone if you are experiencing the following on a regular basis:

  • boredom
  • stress
  • burnout
  • busyness
  • exhaustion
  • death temptation
  • telling yourself “I should” or “I have to”
  • numbness
  • feeling like a fraud
  • lack of creativity
  • stuck in family patterns
  • competition
  • fear of the next step
  • fear of intimacy
  • fear of success

How do I get out of the dead zone?

The answer is simple: move towards your partner. I know, it’s the last thing you want to do when you are stuck in dead-zone. But connection and joining is the only way through the dead-zone. You can stand there, behind your brick wall, throwing a tantrum that no one wants to play with you, or you could let that wall come down and take a risk – the choice is yours. And what is after dead-zone? When you get through this difficult phase, when tyou make a commitment to not let your relationship die here, there is a whole next level waiting for you. After the dead zone, as you move into the first phase of interdependence, you get to have true partnership, equal partnership. You also get to have a deeper level of intimacy and the feeling of success both in your relationship and in the other areas of your life. So if you are insisting on staying stuck in dead-zone, and refusing to step towards your partner, you are probably avoiding these gifts that are waiting for you. And please, don’t blame him or her for being stuck in the dead-zone. Remember, if you have noticed that something is wrong, you can probably heal it. Keep moving towards your partner, because when one person changes, everything changes, and it much easier to change yourself than anyone else. This is the moment, and the decision is yours – how badly do you want to get out of the dead-zone?