The Marital Process: Five Stages
Like the changing seasons of the year, there are five stages to a happy marriage.
They are very natural and happen to almost everyone.
Being aware of these five stages, assessing which one your marriage might be in and then how to move on to the next stage is very important for any couple to know.
I liken them to the four seasons of the year.
So, here they are; the five stages of a marriage.
Stage One: Summer: “You are my passion”
You fall head over heels in love with each other.
You are completely in sync.
When little annoying things pop up you dismiss them.
Your brain literally changes.
For 18 months your brain secrets a hormone that blinds you to what the other person is really like and makes all the red flags look like green flags.
This stage ends when you get married and your joy gives way to the earth shattering realization that marriage isn’t everything you expected it to be.
Stage Two: Fall: “You are my problem”
Little things start to bother you. You wonder if an alien abducted your partner.
During this phase you both are facing major life altering decisions.
For the next 10 years or so you both try to “win” and get your partner to change which triggers stage three.
Stage Three: Winter: “You are my pain”
Every disagreement tends to define what your marriage is, a disaster.
You begin to assume that the other person not only has a “problem” but is the “problem”, stubborn, spiteful, a control freak.
A pain in the butt! What you don’t realize is that your partner is thinking the exact same thing about you.
You both dig your heels in deeper and deeper.
In our minds, our negative reactions are clearly a result of our spouses’ actions.
But because we don’t live inside our spouses, we are often clueless about the ways in which our behaviour affects them.
No, they are moody, nasty or antagonistic or all three.
We think the problem is them.
They think the problem is us but the truth is that the problem is how we interact as a couple.
Stage Four: Spring: “You are my partner”
We accept each other for what we really are.
When disagreements arise, we make an effort to put ourselves in our partner’s shoes & much to our surprise we have a bit of compassion for each other.
We learn that when we are wrong, love means always have to say you are sorry.
We begin to reap the benefits of stage number five.
Stage Five: Summer: “You are my pleasure”
It is unfortunate that half of all couples that wed never get to stage five.
You came to appreciate the differences between you and your spouse.
You have learned to love each other as you both wish to be loved.
Note: These Stages are not Necessarily Sequential
Stuff happens, one step forward, two steps back, for instance marital satisfaction goes down with the birth of each child.
It is also important to note that often children are great for families but not so good for marriages.
They can often make you a great parent but not so great a spouse.
So there you have; marriage can be tough at times.
A good question to ask your self might be, which stage do you think your marriage might be in and what do you think you need to take to get to the next stage
For more on this topic, we recommend the following
How to Have a Great Marriage
The Art and Science of Marital Happiness
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