Navigating the various stages of relationships can be challenging, especially within marriage. Each step has its own set of unique challenges that require specific strategies to overcome. Whether you are just starting your marriage or in the empty nest phase, understanding the ups and downs of marriage and having a plan to address them is crucial.
The seven stages of marriage relationships
- Stage I The honeymoon
- Stage II: The Power Struggle Stage
- Stage III: The Stability and Cooperation Stage of relationships
- Stage IV: The “family-building” stage
- Stage V: The Empty Nest Stage
- Stage VI: The Golden Years of marriage
I. The Honeymoon Stage
Marriage is a promise, not only to be there for each other in good times, but to hold each other up in bad times. It’s a promise to stand together, to love, to laugh, to grow old together.Unknown
The first stage of marriage is the honeymoon stage. This is when couples are excited, optimistic, and happy as they start their new life together. They are still getting to know each other and are typically very affectionate and attentive. The honeymoon stage can last anywhere from a few months to two years.
- High expectations: Couples may have unrealistic ideas of what marriage will be like and may be disappointed when reality doesn’t match their expectations.
- Lack of communication: Couples may need to develop practical communication skills, which can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.
- Jealousy and insecurity: Couples may be jealous or insecure about their partner’s past relationships, which can cause tension.
- Communicate openly and honestly: Couples should talk about their feelings and expectations.
- Set realistic expectations: Couples should be honest about what marriage will be like.
- Address jealousy and insecurity: Couples should address any feelings of jealousy or insecurity about their partner’s past relationships.
II. The Power Struggle Stage
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.Mignon McLaughlin
The second stage of marriage is the power struggle stage. This usually lasts about 3-5 years. During this stage, couples begin to settle into their roles and responsibilities, and conflicts may arise as they try to establish their power and control in the relationship.
- Power struggles: Couples may struggle with power and control issues and have constant conflicts.
- Lack of intimacy: Couples may find that the intimacy and passion they felt in the honeymoon stage have dissipated.
- Establish a balance of power: Couples must understand that both partners have equal value and worth.
- Focus on intimacy: Couples should try to rekindle the intimacy and passion they felt in the honeymoon stage by spending quality time together, being affectionate, and engaging in activities they enjoy.
- Seek counselling if needed: If couples are experiencing difficulties, it can be beneficial to seek the help of a counsellor or therapist.
III. The stability and cooperation stage of relationships
Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day.Barbara De Angelis
The third stage of marriage is the stability and cooperation stage, also known as the “settling in” phase. This is when couples establish a routine and settle into their new life together. This stage can last from a few years to several years.
- Boredom: Couples may start to feel bored with their routine and become complacent in their relationship.
- Financial stress: Couples may experience financial strain as they try to establish their lives together.
- Lack of intimacy: Couples may experience a lack of intimacy in their relationship as they focus on other things, such as employment.
- Mix things up: Couples should keep their relationship interesting by doing new things together.
- Prioritize financial goals: Couples should work together to establish financial goals and manage stress.
- Prioritize intimacy: Couples should make time for emotional intimacy in their relationship.
Remember, a successful marriage requires falling in love often, always with the same person.
IV. The “family-building” stage
The “family-building” stage is the third stage of marriage, and it is characterized by couples starting a family or expanding their existing family. Depending on the partners, this stage can last from a few years to several years. In addition, some couples have blended families from past relationships.
Challenges of the “family-building” stage:
- Time management: couples may struggle to balance the demands of parenting and their relationship. Some need help with work-life balance.
- Lack of alone time: couples may feel like they no longer have time for themselves or quality time together.
- Stress: couples may feel stressed out by the added responsibilities of parenting.
Strategies for navigating the “family-building” stage:
- Prioritize time together: couples should prioritize time together, even if it means scheduling it.
- Communicate: couples should communicate openly and honestly about their feelings and needs.
- Seek support: couples should seek support from friends, family, or a coach if they feel overwhelmed.
V. The Empty Nest Stage
The empty nest stage is a stage that many couples go through when their children have grown up and moved out of the house. This stage can be a time of transition and can bring new challenges.
- Loneliness: Couples may feel lonely and miss the presence of their children in the home.
- Redefining roles: Couples may need to redefine their roles and responsibilities in the relationship as they are no longer focused on parenting.
- Loss of identity: Couples may struggle with losing identity as they are no longer parents.
- Communicate: Couples should talk about their feelings and how they are adjusting to the empty nest stage.
- Find new hobbies and interests: Couples should find new hobbies and interests to keep them engaged and to help them redefine their roles in the relationship.
- Seek support: Couples should seek support from friends, family, or a therapist if they struggle to adjust to the empty nest stage.
VI. The Golden Years of marriage
Marriage is a partnership of two unique people who bring out the very best in each other, and who know that even though they are wonderful as individuals, they are even better together.Barbara De Angelis
The golden years stage is a stage that many couples reach in their later years when they have been together for a long time. This stage can be a time of reflection and appreciation for the relationship.
- Health concerns: Couples may face health concerns as they age and need to navigate caregiving responsibilities.
- Financial concerns: Couples may have financial problems as they approach retirement.
- Loss of loved ones: Couples may experience the loss of loved ones and may need to navigate grief and bereavement.
- Prioritize health and wellness: Couples should prioritize their health and wellness, including seeking medical care and support if needed.
- Plan for financial security: Couples should plan for financial security in their retirement years.
- Seek support: Couples should seek support from friends, family, or a therapist if they are struggling to navigate the challenges of the golden years’ stage.
Strategies to restore your marriage relationship no matter your stage of marriage
- Prioritize time with your partner, especially for intimacy, even if it means scheduling it to your calendar.
- Try to understand and meet your spouse’s emotional needs in marriage.
- Communicate openly and honestly about their feelings and needs.
- Set realistic expectations. Be honest about your feelings and challenges in marriage.
- Seek support from friends, family, a relationship coach or a therapist if you struggle to navigate the challenges of marriage relationships.
It is important to note that every couple’s experience is unique, and these stages may only sometimes occur linearly or may overlap. It is also important to remember that a successful marriage takes work and effort. Still, with the right strategies and support, couples can navigate the different stages of marriage and maintain a strong and healthy relationship.
What stage of relationship or marriage are you in?
Which of the strategies will you apply going forward?
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for your time.