Stage 4: Commitment
After two people complete the Harmonious Love Stage without too much interference, they commit to each other by beginning to explore a more serious relationship. Hence, they have entered the fourth stage of a relationship – Commitment Stage.
Commitment isn’t just having an exclusive relationship by not dating other people; it’s more about having a shared vision that is compelling enough to bond a couple. Having a shared vision is the strongest glue to hold a relationship together.
This stage of a relationship is best characterized by devotion to the cause, having a long-term blueprint, living together as a couple, and being accepted by your social circle as a couple.
Though this looks amazing, there is often a taboo topic within the dynamics – money.
Relationship Challenge: Financial Dispute
In western culture, money is probably the No. 1 taboo topic in a relationship. We start off by being polite and then it just doesn’t ever seem the right time to bring up the topic of money. Consequently, many couples avoid talking about money until it becomes a problem.
That’s why financial dispute often arises in Stage 4 after a couple has already moved in together. Some people even get married at this stage and then are dismayed to discover they have a financial dispute.
Now you may be wondering… why are financial disputes a problem?
Well, let’s have a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs first:
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom. These are physiological needs (e.g. food and shelter). The second level of human needs is safety (e.g. financial security or emotional security). The third level of human needs is love/belonging (e.g. an intimate relationship).
Consequently, when the second level of human needs is in danger, e.g. financial security is a problem, people become more easily triggered and emotional reactions can spiral out of control. Constant arguing then leads to the feeling of safety being compromised, which can undermine the trust and security of your relationship. This, in turn, makes you feel separate and alone.
While many experts say the No. 1 reason for divorce in almost every country is money, relationship breakups are generally caused by the associated damage that occurs when people’s emotional reactions are out of control. It just happens that finances are one of the most common emotional triggers among couples.
How to Keep the Peace at Stage 4
Make sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to money. Have an honest discussion with your partner about money and make sure you understand each other’s values and obligations in this regard.
Maybe one person wants to save a large percentage of their income, whilst the other person wants to enjoy a facial and massage in a luxurious spa once a week. Without a healthy discussion, that could become a problem in the relationship.
Therefore, a couple should talk about their preferences in an openly candid way and find a solution that works for both partners.
A potential solution is having a crystal-clear financial plan that can be implemented immediately. For example, a couple decides to save 30% of their income and use 10% of their income as “play money”, i.e. this amount of money can be spent guilt-free.
Stage 5: Complete Trust
Now, this is the blissful stage every couple looks forward to where you are both feeling more relaxed, happy, and content. If you’ve reached this stage of a relationship, congratulations!
At Stage 5, you completely trust your partner. Neither of you keeps any secrets, you’ve shared everything together and you both have the desire to keep sharing your journey in the future.
You’ve gone through all those ups and downs in life together, so you’ve built real, true love.
Is there any potential problem at this stage? Yes.