Psychologists believe that every married couple goes through certain stages. The duration of each stage may vary. For young people the first stages may last for several years and end with the breakdown of the relationship. But for mature people who consciously enter into married life, they often fly by almost imperceptibly. The development of the relationship may slow down and even stop for a while. If the spouses seek and find solutions to the problems that arise in the family, the relationship develops, but if this does not happen or if one person is always responsible for making decisions, the relationship collapses.
The beginning of a new phase means a transition to a new level of complexity and is always accompanied by crises. Don’t be frightened: this is natural, normal and even necessary. The trials strengthen the feelings. Gradually, love helps both spouses to find harmony with the world.
- Love Strikes
Young people first go through a phase of attraction (often coinciding with the premarital period of a couple’s life). This is the romantic stage of the first crush, when they show each other their best side, trying to make a positive impression and hide their flaws. But even when the flaws are not hidden, it is as if the other half does not notice them. Illusions about the partner may form during this period. For example, the wooing of the young man is taken by the girl as a demonstration of his ability to care, when in fact he only wanted to impress her. A woman, for her part, may also perform acts which are not always typical of her in daily life: please a potential suitor with tasty meals, be polite to his parents, pay no attention to his weaknesses, be soft, tactful and cheerful in communication. Then the lovers get to know each other better. Relationships become more sober and critical. But if, despite this, the desire to be together does not disappear, the young people decide to start a family. It happens that a couple meets for several years, during which the woman waits for a proposal, and the man hesitates to make it. But sooner or later, they have to take the responsibility of continuing the relationship on a more serious level or accept the need to break up and leave.
- Learning new things
Accepting responsibility for further rapprochement and the development of the relationship, the couple moves on to the confrontational phase. At this time there is further getting to know each other, but no longer with rose-tinted eyes in love, but with a realistic view with a fair amount of criticism. This phase often coincides with the time when the couple starts to live together. Newlyweds are surprised to find that their partner differs greatly from the person they thought they had in their imagination.
The reason for the failure of the marriage at this stage is that it does not meet expectations. The family and friends get to know each other more and more, which can fuel marital conflicts. The crisis of this stage is difficult to ignore because it is associated with the self-centredness of the couple and their inability to find compromise solutions. At this stage, without conflict, it is difficult to be sincere in your attitude towards certain problems, and sincerity is an important element in the further development of the relationship. So you need to find your own means of improving the relationship – patience, dialogue, a sense of humour, shared leisure time, the ability to give gifts, a reasonable break from each other and your own little secrets. One couple, with adult children and 20 years of married life, had to go back to the confrontation phase after 20 years because it had been skipped and the relationship could not move forward. This happens when one spouse fully accepts the lifestyle that the other offers. Over time, he or she may have personal needs that do not coincide with the other half’s views. The other spouse may also find it difficult to find the strength to change and compromise, if everyone has adapted to them in the past.
- Look for a compromise
After passing through another crisis, the couple moves on to a stage of compromise. The confrontation sometimes ends gradually, and sometimes abruptly. It happens that after another conflict the person suddenly realizes that he does not want to lose his other half and is ready to make concessions. Over time, you understand each other better and better, which steadily leads to the cohesion of your couple. The degree of intimacy between the couple increases. During this period, husband and wife begin to respect each other more. A clear recognition that it is unproductive and pointless to copy the parental family. They begin to build a new family together, unlike any other family, with its own rituals, traditions, customs and tastes. The pinnacle of this stage is a stable relationship that is less and less dependent on outside influences. This stage can be quite lengthy, but stagnation in the family relationship, rigidly fixed roles lead to a loss of energy of feeling and create conditions for boredom and routine to flourish. “Everything seems to be fine, but something is missing…” someone often says. – Something has to be done – whether to have another child or change jobs…”. Sometimes it may even make you think, “Why don’t I start a new relationship?
- A Mature relationship
The third crisis helps the couple to move to the next stage of matrimonial development – the mature matrimonial stage. The more the relationship becomes meaningful, the more the spouses’ ability to take each other’s side is developed. This is when the other person is accepted as he or she is. A mature marital “we” takes place. The feelings of the spouses are even deeper and stronger now than in the amorous stage (although in the confrontational stage it may feel like former feelings have been lost and will never return). At this stage in the relationship, even situations that used to get in the way can be a source of strong feelings for the couple. For example, coping with domestic tasks, raising children, housing problems, etc. Spouses want to be together more and to share all events and experiences with each other. At this stage the husband and wife do not quarrel and do not sort things out: they talk, at the most they argue. But time goes by and there comes the understanding that besides “we” there is a “I” of each partner. In other words, each spouse has his or her own unrealized potential. There is a crisis of the need for couple’s personal development.
- Going beyond of the boundaries
At this stage, the spouses begin to experiment with personal independence. This stage often coincides with a mid-life crisis. Here the direction of the spouses energy towards personal growth is no longer perceived by them as a painful hindrance to the development of the couple’s relationship. Moreover, there is an understanding that the nurturing environment for relationship development is the personal development of each spouse. Spouses may spend less time together, and if this separate time is positively fulfilling for one spouse, the other spouse enjoys it just as much. The husband and wife are genuinely happy about each other’s successes. But it is too early to become complacent. The crisis of this stage is due to the fact that the spouses are only becoming cramped for intrafamilial tasks. The meaning of life, which used to be limited to the well-being of loved ones, now lies outside the boundaries of the family.
The very last stage of a marital relationship is rebirth. During this period, creating a mature relationship no longer seems so important and the couple stop pursuing this goal. Perhaps right now, the relationship in the family is almost perfect. The spouses have fulfilled and are fulfilling their life mission, have achieved their cherished dream and high purpose. Relationships in this period are very warm and charged with positive energy. Now we can say that the couple approached the dream: “To live happily ever after and to die one day”.