Are you acquainted with the several stages of marriage? When we are young, we believe life to be divided in two parts: before marriage and after marriage. But some individuals remain married for the majority of their lives, at times even 80 years or beyond.
Marriage can be best perceived as a sequence of 7 stages, or phases, that most couples deal with while spending their lives together. These 7 stages of marriage are interrelated, and yet each one is unique and rather different from the others. Understanding what to anticipate, and more prominently, how to plan, can support each couple to cope up with the adjustments more easily.
- The Honeymoon Phase
Generally acknowledged as romantic, affectionate and committed, the “honeymoon” stage of marriage happens directly after the wedding through the next several days or months, could be lasting as long as a year or more. Characterized by intense passion, sexual intimacy and craze, this stage can be really delicate and volatile, and endows with a nurturing setting for marital bonding.
- The Adjustment Phase
Folks don’t just say “the honeymoon’s over” for fun, there’s an underlying message to it! The second stage of marriage takes place when the first one comes to an end—at times gradually, or could be suddenly, based on the conditions affecting the couple and their life together. Drawn back to the “real world” by several responsibilities, comprising of work, in-laws, homemaking, parenting, and their rising acquaintance with one another, this stage is actually an epiphany, or awakening to the “whole picture” lying ahead in the marriage.
- The Great Escape Phase
After the initial three years or so, supremacy struggles might come up as both partners claim their side to be right and create their lines of defence. In this stage of marriage, couples may begin to feel that they married someone with more flaws than perfections, and each one regresses to re-inventing themselves in fresh ways that may only partly include the spouse.
- The Reassessment Phase
Late in the first decade of marriage, and mostly into the second decade, couples turn more familiarized to their situation and each other’s oddities. They start getting matured, particularly if children are present or they have had best role models, mentors or have had taken support of marriage counselling.
Recommitting themselves to the matrimony instead of choosing to break up, they assess the strengths and weaknesses of their partnership and strive hard to work on re-establishing themselves as a couple while augmenting family life.
- The Growing Together Phase
Having endured boredom, conflict and secret temptation so far, the couple may find peaceable time amidst their second or third decade together. Gradually, they find themselves having a second opportunity to re-experience each other. As children turn big and go off to college or academic paths, and one or both spouses get settled in satisfying careers, this becomes an amazing opportunity for them to emphasize on each other again, instead of juggling with kids, office and family tensions that come with the terrain of marriage.
- The Midlife Crisis Phase
While midlife alterations are experienced in women during their 40s and 50s (and at times in their 30s) through biological and emotional adjustments, nowadays both men and women may go through a psychological midlife “crisis” experience where they touch the peak of married life. They unexpectedly see the downhill slide in the other half of their marital lives. Moreover, the feeling of approaching retirement and aging could be so frightening to some folks that they dramatize in a fanatical quest for youth to clutch on to their “golden years”, sometimes by deserting their spouses in a pursuit for a younger “model.”
During this phase, couples must consider for a marriage counselling to save their relationships.
- The Fulfilment Phase
Once few decades pass, both partners start realizing in this stage of marriage that they have by some means managed to be together, and they are happy to do so for the rest of their lives. For some couples, this may involve simply looking back on their previous years together and being grateful they were with each other in both thick and thin times. While for others, this phase is more like “falling in love all over again,” understanding the fact that they have opted for the best possible life partner, and being appreciative to have the partner in their life as they grow old together.