We tend to think of marriage as a block of time in our lives. We get married. This block of time begins, and we hope it continues running linearly until “death do us part.”
Most couples begin walking on the clouds and expect that this lovey-dovey phase should continue to persist all their lives. Many other couples might be more practical, yet when some unexpected challenges arise, they are taken aback.
Suddenly, the person you loved so much seems to be changing.
As and how time flies, the relationship appears to be undergoing a huge transformation. But, we are somewhere stuck in the blissful nostalgia of the honeymoon phase and compare every change in the present with the past. This leads to further disappointment.
But marriage is not one compartmentalized segment of our lives. There are distinct stages of marriage, which each couple passes through from the beginning until the end.
The following are listed the seven stages of marriage.
Learning about these stages will help you understand the journey of marriage, right from the beginning till the very end.
Understanding these seven stages in detail can help you enjoy the beauty of your relationship in every phase of your life as well as help you anticipate the challenges well in advance. This way, you would be better prepared as you would know what to expect!
Stage one: The honeymoon phase
The honeymoon phase covers the initial years of marriage, where everything is beautiful. The honeymoon stage generally lasts 1-3 years.
The two of you are head over heels in love. Your partner can do no wrong.
His little quirks, such as loading the dishwasher in a precise fashion or gargling noisily with the mouthwash, are perceived as adorable and charming. You are wearing your rose-colored glasses; he’s got stars in his eyes.
Of all the phases of marriage, the honeymoon phase is an important one as it promotes bonding and encourages intimacy and trust-building.
Mother Nature knows what she is doing with the Honeymoon phase, she is ensuring the perpetuation of the species. You find each other so amazing; your brain is swimming in endorphins and sex hormones.
Savor this stage of marriage and take advantage of it!
Stage two: Coming down to earth – reality sets in!
In the second stage of marriage, the bloom comes off the rose. Oh, you still enjoy your partner, but in this stage, you realize they are human beings with all that implies.
They have their faults and habits that you do not find as cute as during the honeymoon stage. You may find yourself asking the question, “What was I thinking?”
Not to worry, of all the stages in marriage, stage two is where you both reveal your authentic selves to each other. This is important in stages of marriage because you can now start laying the groundwork for a genuine lifelong bond.
Stage two, the phase of adjustment, can last 3-5 years. Coming down to earth in stage two is normal.
The absence of the “honeymoon high” does not mean your marriage is in trouble. As with all stages of marriage, good dialogue in your couple will be key in moving through stage two.
Stage three: If only they’d change, everything would be perfect!
In stage three of the stages of marriage, a mini-rebellion occurs. You spent the two previous stages of marriage happily finding all the ways you were connected.
You had so much in common! Always on the same page!
In stage three, you come into your own individual selves, and suddenly you catch yourself thinking about your partner’s way of doing things? Completely wrong!
Stage three, where you feel like you want to change your partner, can last 5-7 years, resulting in the famous “seven-year” itch, a fragile point in marriage where one may have an affair, or opt to end the marriage.
But stage three also offers an opportunity for immense personal growth as you recognize and respect each other’s individuality. Using good communication and empathy skills, you learn to see each other’s world views.
This provides you with a great opportunity to learn cooperative techniques when conflict arises, mastering the art of positive dialogue and productive conflict resolution.
In stage three, you learn not to criticize each other’s differences but to embrace them. They contribute to the whole that is your loving relationship.
In stage five, it is vital to pay attention to physical and mental health concerns. Stay fit, stay active, stay engaged in the world to keep yourselves sharp and bright.
When handled with awareness, stage five of the stages of marriage can be a fulfilling time of reunification with your spouse. Stage five -the period in which you and your spouse rediscover each other can last 3-5 years.
Tread carefully through stage six. If you are sensing discord, it may be worth visiting a marriage counselor who can help you remember all the things you love about your partner and about being married.
You two have a long history together. In stage six, you can honor that and be grateful towards each other.
If you are looking forward to reviving your relationship, advice from experts can help you get started.
Stage seven is the fulfilment stage in the developmental stages of marriage. Stage seven, the golden years, will last until one of you leaves the earth. Hopefully, this will be the longest stage of marriage!
Many partners use this stage to reflect on their long and rich history. Vows may be renewed. (Bonus points if you still fit into your wedding attire!)
There is a deep feeling of gratitude to be able to continue to wake up next to that person you chose to love and honor so many years ago.
Stage seven brings forth a lovely stable moment in your marriage. There are grandchildren to enjoy, financial security, the gift of doing with your time what you like to do.
You and your spouse are truly comfortable with each other. Researchers find that these long-term couples have a high rate of marital happiness.
They stuck it out through thick and thin and can now reap the rewards of all their hard work!
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.