I have spent the past couple of weeks researching marriage topics. Part of it is for research for my upcoming novel and part of it is for my own marriage. I came across The Five Stages of a Committed Relationship and was very enlightened. When you are in a long term committed relationship, especially one that has spanned two decades, it is hard not to fall into a rut, take things for granted and forget to nurture your relationship. Life tends to get in the way and we are all struggling to keep up with its rapid pace and the most valuable parts of life can sometimes suffer because of it.
The five stages of a committed relationship starts with the Romance Stage – that unrealistic stage that seasoned couples know does not last and is found at the very beginning of a relationship. From there, you progress into the Disillusionment Stage – this is that stage where your blinders are off and you finally start to witness the good, the bad and the ugly of your significant other. Then there comes The Power Struggle Stage – in this stage the realizations from Disillusionment Stage are intensified and become harder to deal with and accept. Unfortunately, this is the stage that many people become stuck in and wind up separated or divorced. But if they are able to work past this phase, then they progress into the Stability Stage – a more peaceful stage where a true friendship generally evolves through reconciliation. Lastly comes the Acceptance Stage – that experts sadly say only 5% reach – it is the stage where your genuine love for one another is proven by the fact that you are committed to remain together for better or for worse and you are able to find a commonplace of happiness.
After reading several articles, I can honestly say that I have witnessed each one of these stages. I think some of them you cross over several times but at the end of the day, you should always maintain the acceptance stage mentality. Instead, our society is a place where marriage is no longer sacred, commitments are no longer honored and we find our divorce rates at astronomical numbers all because we are too selfish to realize that it is not simply about us. When you are part of a union, it is about the two of you and if there are children, their feelings and needs should definitely be a factor.
I am not here to preach to the choir, repeat the same things we hear everyday because we all know what we should do. I am here to share what I have learned, often the hard way, over twenty years. Some of these have been learning experiences based on my own relationship and some have been based on friends and their experiences.
I have learned that it takes a long time for some of us to think in terms of “we”. I have learned that couples often mature in the relationship at different speeds and there is often a lot of waiting for the other to catch up. I have learned that taking someone for granted for too long can wear down even the strongest of loves and you have to work extremely hard to rebuild from that point. I have learned that there are many temptations in the world, the grass is greener scenarios and have witnessed the devastation and the healing from emotional affairs. I have learned that it is best to keep people out of the intricacies of your relationship/marriage and communicate only with one another; no one else knows your relationship like you do and it is always best to keep the naysayers out of the mix. I have learned that affection is key and never to allow it to fall by the wayside because it is a slippery slope into the danger zones of a relationship from there.
I have learned to relish in the peace, comfort and unconditional support that my husband and children offer and have adopted a true it is us against the world mentality. I believe the most important lesson I have learned is that with enough love, enough commitment, and enough dedication to one another, there is not much you cannot overcome. We need to recognize the Disillusionment phase, make an action plan to work past it once we find ourselves there and stop allowing the enemy to tear our relationships asunder.
Until next time, keep those you love close to your heart and remember that it takes two literally means it takes two to break or make a relationship.