Marriage is a process. Building a life with another person can be beautiful, complicated, and ugly at times, but ultimately the couples that survive the setbacks find marriage fulfilling, loving, and wonderful. However, even the healthiest couples experience disagreement or friction from time to time, and the way a couple navigates conflict can set the tone for the entire future of the relationship. If you are not sure where you are at in your marriage, contact affordable marriage counseling near me for help!

The Five Stages of Marriage

Social scientists and relationship experts agree that there are four stages to any marriage or committed relationship. These stages are not linear, meaning that it is possible for one stage of the process to bleed into another at times, but each couple will have certain characteristics associated with whatever stage they are in. By recognizing these traits and expanding on them throughout your life together, you can create a fulfilling marriage where boundaries, needs, and desires are regularly met. 

Stage One: Honeymoon and Romance

The first stage of marriage is the time when partners are falling in love, infatuated with each other, and desperately want to spend all their free time together. Usually lasting anywhere from three months to two years depending on the couple’s personality types, commitment levels, religious beliefs or cultural values about dating rules, this phase can be wonderful, exciting, exhausting, and full of memorable experiences.

Stage Two – Settling Down and Realization

After the honeymoon period has ended, couples begin to realize that marriage cannot be a beautiful storybook affair one hundred percent of the time. Although many people believe unhappiness in a relationship can only occur from a major trauma, such as infidelity, addiction issues, or abusiveness, realization can occur regardless of whether or not these circumstances come into play. This stage begins with a slow but steady decline of intense romance, then a transition into a cooperative partnership. 

Stage Three: Building a Life

In this stage, couples have stopped chasing after one another long enough to get to know their partner on deeper levels than before. This is the time when couples start to build a life together, combining their finances and possessions with each other. The number of disagreements in this stage usually increases due to both partners’ increased involvement in one another’s lives, but most experts agree that these skirmishes will lessen over time as long as they are worked out respectfully and rationally. 

Stage Four: The Power Struggle

Just as the name suggests, this stage is when power struggles begin to emerge within a marriage. With no more surprises or secrets left between them and both partners’ individual identities beginning to fade, couples now focus on who has control over whom in regards to spending habits, household chores, career decisions  and even how they will raise children. This stage is perhaps the most delicate of the four: if the couple is able to work through this difficult period, they can strengthen their marriage and emerge as a stronger team than ever before.

Stage Five: Calm or Crisis

The final stage of any relationship is when both partners have become comfortable with one another’s strengths and weaknesses, where communication has improved immensely, and each person feels secure within themselves and within the relationship. If healthy patterns have not been established in previous stages, it can be very difficult to reach a place of calm and peace in a relationship. 

Find Affordable Marriage Counseling Near Me 

No matter what stage you are at in your marriage, you don’t have to settle for anything less than you deserve. Affordable marriage counseling near me can help you and your spouse identify problems within the relationship with a trained marriage therapist, work through them together as a team, and create an even stronger relationship because of it.