Most people don’t know that their marriage will undergo stages of development. It’s important to be aware of this in order to have realistic expectations of their relationship, and to navigate these stages successfully.
The first stage is the “Romantic Stage”, where a couple feels the attraction and seeks to develop the connection by spending lots of time together, having fun, experiencing new things, and putting their best foot forward to nurture the relationship. Partners experience intense feelings that lead to seek more and more closeness, and to make the relationship permanent. This often leads to commitment.
The second stage is the “Power Struggle Stage”, which usually starts about one year after the couple has married. In this stage conflict arises as the couple realizes that they have differences, and they begin to notice flaws in their partner that they either ignored or minimized during the romantic stage. Of course, the bliss they experienced at first begins to wane, and they start to argue in protest of the apparent loss of connection between them. The problem that many spouses have is that they expect the bliss of the romantic stage to last forever, and since it doesn’t, they feel disappointed and wonder if they made a mistake marrying. Unfortunately, this is the longest stage in the life of a marriage.
The third stage is the “Conscious Stage”, in which marriage partners enjoy friendship, connection, acceptance, a deeper sense of love for each other, all because they intentionally nurtured the relationship during the prior stage of it, and because they worked through their conflicts together in a collaborative fashion. When couples do that their marital relationship gets stronger and deepens with time.
If you need to learn more about this and how to make your marriage the best it can be, don’t hesitate to contact me. My specialty is marriage counseling. I can help you learn the skills that can help you and your partner create a successful, satisfying, and happy marriage.