All marital unions are different but they all go through some similar and quite predictable stages. The timing may differ, and the way a couple manages the phase they’re in varies, but we need t ounderstand the stages. We will try to give you the tools you need to move through with your loving union intact.
Honeymoon. Usually the two years (more or less depending on the arrival of children as well as whether a couple lived together beforehand) is a passion-fueled period that’s all about the two of you and your intense focus on the attraction that made you want to walk down the aisle to begin with.
The Challenge This stage is full of lovely things like lust, affection and late-night romps, but you’d be wise to also use this time to cement your sense of coupledom outside the bedroom and physical world. Who are you, as a couple? What do you share spiritually? You should spend time figuring out how you envision the rest of your marriage.
Settling In This is the realization stage, during which you learn things you might not have known (or happily ignored) about your spouse’s strengths, weaknesses and personal habits. Also in this post-honeymoon stage power struggles can arise as the two of you work toward both separate and shared goals.
The Challenge As the shine fades a bit and reality sets in, you need to safely navigate what can be the first divorce danger zone of a young marriage. After some couple of years, too many couples find that their values and goals aren’t always on the same page.
Family Welcome to the core of marriage — the years most couples spend raising their families, buying a home, building and/or changing careers and all-around trying to hold a busy, crazy modern life together. This is another danger time as you may have a couple of kids, a mortgage, demanding jobs — this puts enormous strain on the resources of a marriage.
The Challenge You should pay close attention to your marriage. Do not assume your relationship will be OK if one or both of you is on autopilot. One thing that’s essential to building an enduring marriage is open, honest and tender communication. Give yourselves a chance to communicate by scheduling together time or planning a regular date
Any Time: Explosion This is less of a discrete stage than the others: it can happen at any time in a marriage. It’s when major life stressors interrupt the forward motion of your life together — any challenging issues, a death in the family, a major illness or the loss of a job that leads to serious economic upheaval.
The Challenge Seek support, both separately and together, depending on the situation. Never feel you have to power through problems on your own, or your marriage may suffer. Seek advice and guidance from friends, older family members, religious counselors or professional therapists. Pay attention to your own physical and emotional health and well-being, That will make your bond even stronger.
Just You Two Some call this stage the “empty nest,” but that implies that your home is devoid of love after your children grow up and leave. Hopefully, it’s not that way. In the best scenario, this stage is about reunion. You are getting to know each other all over again, unpacking old baggage and having fun.
The Challenge Let's assume you’ve weathered the earlier storms of marriage. This time together can be exhilarating. But many couples find it a struggle to be together again with nothing else to concentrate on as children left home. You should spend some time figuring out things you can do together and apart. If the issue is that you’ve ignored resentments toward your partner while you were busy with work and kids, you’ll need to be honest about these thorny problems.
You Did It! You’ve enjoyed the lust, lived the love and come through the chaos of family life - without splitting up in the face of troubles. You’ve reached completion, a stage that retired, empty-nest couples who still enjoy being together can bask in for the rest of their lives. Is there anything else?
The Challenge You should continue to show each other affection and attention. If you’ve remained a loving, harmonious couple, you won’t have an empty nest for long. Children and grandchildren will gravitate back to the happy home they remember. Good luck!