5 different stages of marriage and ways on how to effortlessly survive each of them.
It takes reflecting on yourself and your marriage to find the truth.
You realize that you’re stuck in an unhappy marriage with a spouse that you may or may no longer love. Now, you want to know how to save your marriage and bring it back to the way it was.
It can be hard to know if your marital dis-ease is just a bump in the road or a sign of a bigger, underlying problem.
All relationships and marriages go through relationship problems. But, understanding the different phases your marriage will go through can help you answer the question, “Can you save an unhappy marriage?”
According to Dr. Susan Campbell, a best-selling author and relationship expert, there are 5 distinct stages to a relationship. Knowing these stages, and the stage which you and your spouse may be in after you marry, gives you insight into whether you can save an unhappy marriage.
It helps you recognize why your marriage feels unhappy, how to become unstuck, and what the future may hold. So, if you’re asking yourself, “Is my marriage over?”, it’s not. You can learn how to save a marriage.
Here are the 5 stages of marriage that you need to know.
1. Honeymoon Stage
The honeymoon stage can last up to 2 years, at which point, the overwhelming feelings of love and happiness begin to fade. According to Richard E. Lucas of Michigan State University, we all have a level of baseline happiness. External events can temporarily raise or lower your happiness point, but in the end, it will always trend back to your baseline.
This is called the adaptation theory and can be applied to marriages. During the honeymoon phase, everything is fresh, new, and exciting. You may not realize your partner’s flaws or you can tolerate them because of the love you have. Without effort put into the marriage to keep the excitement alive, it begins to fade.
Love is considered a necessary quality for marriage in our western culture. And with love, couples can overcome almost any challenge. However, it means regular relationship maintenance to keep that love alive.
Here are the tools you need to navigate this stage:
- Recognize that even though the excitement of a new relationship is fading, it does not mean your love for your partner is, as well.
- Spend less time with your spouse. Spending so much time with your spouse generates predictability, which may lead to boredom. Spending less time doing everything together helps break up the monotony. This helps you maintain your own interests and not lose yourself in the relationship.
- Try a new hobby that you are both interested in learning together. Challenging yourselves as a couple can help keep the excitement in the relationship. It also allows you to grow together, instead of apart.
2. Power Struggle Stage
As the honeymoon stage ends, the power struggle stage begins. Your life as a couple gets hard in this stage. The monotony of marriage becomes felt. It’s when your or your spouse’s dreams aren’t turning out as expected. Your expectations of what it means to be in a relationship (i.e. happily ever after, always and forever, without any effort) finally becomes seen as unrealistic.
During this stage, you may feel distant from your partner. You may feel like your partner is different than the person you married. However, you actually are still just learning about each other and each of your emotional needs. It may seem like you really knew each other when you got married, but in reality, this is just part of the learning process of this stage.