Marriage is a dynamic, living, growing entity. Through the passage of time, marriage goes through some predictable phases.
Knowing what to expect and what phase you in will make the challenges of marriages much easier.
PHASE 1 - PASSION
You're head over heels in love and ecstatically happy that you've finally found your soulmate. This is the phase that Hollywood and romance novels focus on. Nothing seems quite as important as your relationship. Passion is at it's peak and any flaws that are in your partner are dismissed as trivial and unimportant.
The newness and excitement that you feel is further enhanced by chemicals released by the body. (Mother Nature wants to ensure that you mate with your mate to ensure that the human race continues)
Most people make life-long commitments to each other while they are in this heady chemically induced state.
PHASE 2 - "WHAT DID I SEE IN HIM/HER?"
The second phase is a really difficult one. This is where reality sets in and you realize your partner has flaws, some of them serious.
The difference between the two of you becomes much more noticeable and a power struggle often develops.
Arguments start and you may find yourself wondering what you ever saw in your partner in the first place. Add to this disillusionment the pressures of daily life and no wonder problems start to develop.
PHASE 3 -"EVERYTHING WOULD BE PERFECT IF MY SPOUSE CHANGED."
You feel that everything would be fine if your spouse changed some annoying behavior or trait. You probably find yourself saying things like
"Everything would be just great if........
......he stayed home every night instead if drinking with his buddies."
...... she didn't spend so much money."
....... she cooked a decent meal and kept the house clean."
....... he helped around the house more."
And so begins the battle to change your spouse ..... and your spouse's battle to change you.
The sad part is that some couples stay stuck in the phase forever.
After a while, couples make 1 of 3 choices.
1. Give up and decide to divorce.
2. Give up and decide to stay unhappily married.
3. Decide to learn how to have a healthier and happier marriage.
PHASE 4 - ACCEPTANCE
In this phase you realize that you're never going to agree with your partner on every issue. You may start looking for help by reading books, attending seminars and so on.
You learn to become more tolerant and forgiving. The atmosphere of the marriage changes from one of struggle and competition to one of co-operation.
STAGE 5 - PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE
You find peace and harmony together. You start to geniunely like your spouse and start to focus on your partners virtues rather than continue to be obsessed by his/her faults.
You feel proud of the storms you have weathered together and now have a shared history.
By now the kids are probably older and more independent. You can now focus on your marriage and each other again.
Remember that each of these phases is a transition. Moving from one phase to the next isn't a linear process. It's a 2 step forward, 1 step back process.
What once looked like an insurmountable problem could be nothing more than a phase.