7 Stages of Marriage


Each marriage has its ups and downs but there tends to be a pattern that runs through most relationships.  A pattern that experts refer to as the 7 stages of Marriage.  Building a successful marriage is a lifelong challenge.  Understanding the different stages of marriage and phases  you’ll go through as a couple may help you build a stronger more fulfilling relationship.

The 7 Stages of Marriage

Passionate young couple getting married on the beach standing on rocks

Stage one of Marriage: Passion. This is the honeymoon stage when romance and intense attraction bond a couple together.  In most cases by two years couples have usually lost that initial magic, this can vary by couple.

The passion stage is very strong and significant.  It is a wave of feel good brain chemicals orchestrated by mother nature to make the two of you forsake all others and take action to ensure the survival of the species.  Even if you marry later in life or for the second time nature supplies the burst of neurotransmitters to make you bond.  Couples not only frolic and fall madly in love in the passion stage they also develop trust, respect and emotional intimacy that will support their relationship forever.


Stage two of Marriage: Realization.  In this stage the honeymoon ends and a more real vision of the rest your life together begins.  In this stage you discover that your spouse is not only human, he also doesn’t load the dishwasher or lower the toilet seat.  Disappointment and early conflict are the hallmarks of this difficult unavoidable period as you two make the journey toward accepting each other for who you are completely.

The mission and challenge?  No less than laying the groundwork for a long future together based on acceptance, respect and openness to change.  You’ll need to assertively discuss and emphatically listen as you both introduce your deepest personal needs and wants.  This creates a foundation for being truly known, heard, understood and supported in the years ahead.


Stage three:  Rebellion.  She misses her friends he misses his cool toys.  She wants to travel, he wants to play weekly softball.  She wants to build her career.  He wants to build his career.  Even for couples who successfully navigate the realization stage of marriage and lay the foundation for a happy respectful coexistence together, a time inevitably emerges when self interest often overtakes the interest of the marriage.  And when this happens be ready for the battles.  Love amid the power struggles of the rebellion stage is tricky business.

You both believe you’re right so of course your partner’s wrong.  That means you’re simultaneously offended at both being called wrong and claiming the moral high ground.  Is this any way to run a marriage.  Experts say the drama of the rebellion stage is unavoidable.  Learning the art of the good fight is the mission now.  Often it is the nature of the battles rather than the substance of the discussion that leads to trouble why?  Rebellious thoughts when met with anger and frustration often lead to rebellious actions such as infidelity, outlandish spending, any of this spells disaster for a marriage.


Stage four of marriage: Cooperation.  As marriages progress over time they inevitably become more complicated.  Careers grow, houses get bigger, personal commitments grow deeper and children arrive.  In the cooperation stage marriage takes on a business like personality.  Set aside all that love and emotion and personal realization stuff.  There are mortgages to be paid, investments to be handled, careers to be directed, health to be managed and first and foremost children to raise.


Stage Five of marriage: Reunion.  If you have children the cooperation stage lasts about 10 or 20 years then suddenly it is gone.  Your parenting commitments are lessened, your finances established, your career set, your mortgage paid.  What then?  For happy couples it is time to appreciate each other again.  Not as parents and providers but as lovers and friends, thinkers and seekers, achieve this and there is peace happiness and reconciliation.

That all sounds wonderful but this ideal is hard to achieve.  The waves of passion need stroking.  The disillusionment and distance of middle age need to be managed, the roles and expectations of the marriage need re-calibrating.


Stage six of marriage:  Explosion.  Job loss, major health problems, a move to a new city health problems, or death of a parent.  As you pass through midlife and into the golden years, major life developments seem to come one upon the other.  In the explosion phase either you or your spouse or both of you are dealing with major life shaken events that could affect your relationship for a day a year or the rest of your lives.

While the other six stages appear to occur in order the explosion phase can happen anytime in a marriage, though it happens most between 40’s and 50’s.  Confronted by a personal crises your marriage can be a source of solace or be sorely tried by the unexpected pressure new roles, new limitations and fears.  The mission of the explosion stage is to deal the best way you can with life’s challenges and changes.  But at the same time keep yourself healthy and happy.

Letting your marriage see you through can be as simple as sharing daily joys and putting aside fears and stress through prayer.


Stage Seven stage of Marriage: Completion. It’s no coincidence lots of surveys  find that marital happiness soars after several decades of shared life.  Experts say it’s because kids are grown and couples know each other again, but there’s more to it.  Knowing each other isn’t merely tolerating your partner’s quirks and habits and needs.  In the completion stage it has a deeper meaning and much bigger payoff.

Part of being a happy man, means never losing the boy within.  The same goes for women.  There is a spirit of a young girl inside.  Maintaining a childlike love of life, laughter and nature and each other is the real secret to a blessed relationship.  It is also living in the present not the past. 

In the completion stage of marriage there is never a belief that the best times are over they should always be now, today and tomorrow.




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