The Four Stages of Marriage
The Four Stages of Marriage
Most marriages go through a series of stages:
- Awakening to Joy
Due to the high divorce rate, many couples never make it to the 4th Stage of Awakened Joy.
Most of us are familiar with the first Stage of Romance and remember this special time of falling in love with each other and the intense feelings that begin to develop. Life was so wonderful we could not stand to live without the other. Our thoughts often turned to the other when we were not with them. We had fallen in love and knew that this was the person we wanted to be with the rest of our life.
Little differences between us were cute and endearing, and all that mattered was being together. No matter how much we saw other couples going through struggles, we knew that was not us. They did not have what we had as a couple. Life was going to be wonderful, and everything would be perfect. We knew these intense feelings of love would last forever.
At some point, those little differences that at first were endearing in our spouse, start to annoy us. We begin to feel bothered by the way our spouse is different and does not always agree with our plans and ideas. The self-talk in the back of our mind starts wondering why our spouse could not be more like us.
Signs such as these mark entry into the second Stage of Marriage, the Disillusionment Stage, as we realize that our spouse has values, goals and ideals that may not align with our own.
During the Disillusionment Stage, we start to realize that our spouse is not the perfect person that we had envisioned him or her to be. Sometimes, especially if our Romance Stage had been particularly intense, we are hurt deeply by this Disillusionment. Love can be strained and tested.
We realize that the expectations we had of the perfect marriage were not going to happen. For some, this realization is too heart wrenching and the marriage does not continue. Many give up on the marriage, and divorce during this second Stage of Disillusionment. Other couples simply accept this as the status quo and allow these frustrations to continue to build up over time.
Many people stick with and try to work through their problems during Disillusionment. They seek the counsel of family, friends, clergy and marriage or family counselors. Some of these people find the key they are looking for from these resources.
Many others continue to struggle and their troubles worsen. Sometimes quickly, but most often gradually over time, the pain of a struggling marriage continues to increase. It can be a gradual growing apart or constant disagreement and fighting. Often the marriage deteriorates more deeply due to drug, alcohol or other addictions. Sometimes an infidelity, such as an online relationship, pornography addiction, or an affair can cause severe anguish and grief.
As the couple finds themselves in this third Stage of Marriage, they know they have entered the Misery Stage. This stage is marked by a widening separation that is marked by distance, frustration, anger and an obvious absence of closeness, acceptance, and love.
The Misery Stage is where many couples find themselves considering a marriage separation or divorce. Many believe the pain is too intense. It may seem that too much has happened and there is no way to forgive and move on. Many judge that the restoration of love and trust seems impossible and it may seem that things can never be the same.
When children are involved, this third Stage of Misery is particularly difficult on them. Regardless of whether the couple stays together in misery or divorce, the misery of the marriage relationship often begins to negatively affect the children.
The pain is often so intense during the Misery Stage that it is common to only want it to STOP. Much like the pain of a toothache that consumes your whole being, you cannot seem to think of anything else besides stopping the pain. One spouse may be pushing hard for the divorce, while the other wants to stop divorce and is resistant. Love is tested, often to the absolute limit.
If the couple ends the marriage at this point and remarry other partners, they are significantly more likely to repeat the same mistakes, and experience the effects of yet another divorce with their second or third spouse.
Awakening to Joy
Most people whose marriages end in divorce are not bad people. Rather, they are often people who never learned the proper tools for a happy marriage. This is where Retrouvaille can help.
Teams of couples who have experienced all four Stages of Marriage present the Retrouvaille program. Instead of giving up, they found solutions. In Retrouvaille, they learned the tools they needed to improve their communication so that they may live in a happy and harmonious marriage. They learned that marriage does not follow the Romance and “Happily Ever After” formula portrayed in literature and media. Rather, they find that there are certain learnable skills, attitudes and tools that they can use to deal with the inevitable problems of the real world and the difficult struggles that a marriage will face.
These skills, attitudes and tools give them what they need to move from the third Stage of Misery into the fourth Stage of Awakened Joy. Learning to have a relationship with unconditional acceptance and to feel valued for who you are is a mark of being in this stage of Awakening. The ability to be able to share yourself and be appreciated for being yourself is a joyful feeling. Awakened Joy changes the way you live together, speak to each other, and interact with each other on a daily basis. It is a continued peace that comes from open and honest communication. It is the realization that while love is not perfect, just as we are not perfect, that it is in fact resilient and your relationship can be stronger than ever.
Whether you are in the Disillusionment Stage, grieving the loss of that magical Romance, or if you have moved firmly into the Misery Stage, Retrouvaille can give you the marriage help you need to rebuild your marriage. While in Misery, it is often hard to see that there is hope and that change is possible.
Tens of thousands of couples have turned their marriages around by giving this program a chance.
Can you save your marriage by attending and working the Retrouvaille program?
You will never know until you try. Call the phone number or send an email to the caring Retrouvaille volunteers in your area. Ask them those tough questions that keep nagging at you in the back of your mind.
The couples answering the phone or responding to your email are people just like you who have been there and pushed through to the fourth Stage of Awakening toa Joy. They will be able to relate to your feelings of hopelessness, frustration, and loss. They will do their best to give you the answers you need about this program.
Be assured that all contacts are held in the strictest confidence.