In this age of memes, we have found ten photos that embody the good and bad of married life. While these photos do not speak to all relationships, you may find that they speak to yours. Enjoy this -lighthearted and somewhat profound look at married life. Some of these stages may seem very familiar to you and your relationship, while others may not.
1. Birth of a Star
Most marital relationships begin with a “white hot” courtship phase. Our DNA wires us for intimacy and procreation. Inasmuch, the earliest days of intimate relationships begin with an undeniable passion for the other. While the relationship will not always burn with this fiery hot intensity, the afterglow of the initial spark may last a lifetime. If this is true for you, consider yourself exceedingly lucky. Sexuality and sexual expression should be cultivated throughout a healthy marriage.
2. Children in the Meadow
As a relationship deepens beyond the fiery intimate stage, the couple learns to find common ground and a common story. This is a fun time of discovery, conversation, and probing into one another’s story. Sadly, a lot of relationships lose ground after spending a season or two in the meadow. If we can’t move beyond the whimsy, we’re in trouble.
3. Pouty Face
If a relationship is to survive, it must push through the challenges and doldrums of disagreement. We may become a bit disillusioned by the fact that our mate is not perfect, but if we are healthy, we learn to accept our differences so long as they are not “deal breakers” like addiction, abuse and the like. Learning how to talk through conflict is an important gleaning to take beyond this stage.
4. The Proposition
If the trajectory of the relationship continues to move forward in a positive direction, the time may come for the marriage proposal. Like a flash of light, the partners agree to build upon their history and connection by taking the next step in the relationship. Following the proposal, comes a whirl of excitement, planning, and potential. The couple may pour their hearts into creating the perfect wedding replete with flowers, fine foods, dancing, and the honeymoon. It is a magical time in the lifecycle of the relationship. Which it brings us to…
5. The Honeymoon
We’re talking about more than a two-week excursion following the wedding ceremony. For many couples, there’s a “honeymoon” period following the nuptials marked by contentment, exploration, and a general sense of relational well being. For some couples, this is the first time the two have lived together under one roof. As the partners learn what it’s like to live with one another, there may be some disillusionment when it is discovered that the “other” has some bad or irritating habits the other partner was not aware of.
6. The First Explosion
Eventually it happens, and by “it” I am talking about the first big argument of the partnership. It may be over petty things or it could be centered on a very substantial issue. Whatever the root of the disagreement, it may arrive as a real shock to the couple. How the couple learns to deal with this impasse and future ones will determine if the couple has the “right stuff” to endure.
7. Little Tykes
Many couples choose to have children, while some prefer to maintain the empty nest. If children are brought into the fold, life for the couple becomes busier and busier. School, sporting events, medical appointments and all the other busyness associated with child rearing brings joy and stress into the relationship. During the hectic years with children, it becomes vitally important for couples to invest time in the relationship, nurturing connection outside of the bonds shared with the children.
8. The Empty Nest
Partners with children often look ahead to the day when the “nest” will be emptied of little ones. When children move on to college, careers, military and the like, couples have an opportunity to recapture some of the spark that brought them together in the first place. Intentionality in travel, romance, and visioning, helps the “empty nesters” move to a new place in the relationship. These “Golden Years” in marriage can be quite wonderful.
Like it or not, we were not designed to live forever. Every couple enters the era of decline. Over time, our bodied and mental faculties decline. Inasmuch, the long-term relationship moves to more of a “caring” mode. As part of our relationship vows, we honor a commitment to care from one another when we are no longer able to care for ourselves. Many couples even choose to provide convalescent and hospice care within the hope. What a powerful way to tell our partner, “You are loved.”
10. Till Death Do Us Part
Eventually, one partner will die, meaning an end to the physical union. While we don’t welcome the “till death do us part” of the relationship, the healthiest ones among us realize that death will eventually knock at the door. With the end of the partnership, comes a renewed opportunity for the surviving partner to engage in appropriate self care and create new connections. While the “holes in the heart” can never be filled in a holistic way, a survivor in a relationship ended by death can kindle a healthy life for the future.