The Power Struggle is physically and emotionally draining, and if the couple can survive, they move into the next stage, of a conscious Re-Evaluation of the relationship. Whereas the original commitment one makes is typically based on projections of fantasy, this Re-Evaluation takes into account the reality and fears and defenses of each person. Do I really want to stay with this person? You know who this person is now, you know their limitations, and you know the range of which they are capable of improving or getting better. Knowing all that, do you still want to stay? That is the question that gets answered during this stage.
Both people tend to turn outward to resolve their issues, instead of toward each other. As a result, fears of abandonment come up strongly here. Can I make by myself? Am I really okay the way I am? Will anyone else find me attractive or appealing?
Both people emotionally (and sometimes physically) disengage and withdraw during this stage, which makes it the stage in which separation, divorce and/or an affair are most likely to occur. Feelings of resentment are less intense in this stage, as the affect in the relationship is likely to be very flat and empty. The sexual relationship sporadic at best and more likely non-existent. Things are ripe for an affair to burst on the scene, and often a person in this stage will begin to confide in someone of the opposite sex. This confidante will take on more and more importance in the person's life, due to their neediness and vulnerability, and they will often get emotionally very involved without consciously realizing it. At this point even the slightest affection is like throwing a match in the forest on a hot summer day, and a passionate, intense affair will begin.
The danger is that when an affair begins at this stage, it is almost impossible for the relationship to recover. The primary relationship has too little going for it in the way of gratification on either side, and the inevitable comparisons between the affair and the relationship seem like night and day.
A separation can be useful here to help each person gain perspective, due that too can lead to the demise of the relationship if outside gratifications seem to dwarf the emptiness of the relationship.
The task for each person here is to stay present and honor their commitment, develop individually and be able to see their partner as a separate person. This is the only way the relationship can survive and move into the next stage.