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6 Stages Of Every Marriage And How To Get Over The Challenges

6 Stages Of Every Marriage And How To Get Over The Challenges

Marriage – what does that word make you think of? Do you see it as the ideal goal for your life, rosy and full of love and commitment? Or does it scare you to be fully devoted to just one person? Regardless of your thoughts on marriage, it’s important to be well informed about what it involves. Marriage is one word for the state of commitment you sign into on your wedding day, but it’s not just one thing – there are actually many stages of marriage! Check out the 6 stages of marriage, the challenges that come along with each, and how you can overcome them all to enjoy a long lasting marriage.

1. Honeymoon Heaven

Honeymoon periods can vary depending on how long you’ve been together, how quickly children come, and if you lived together before marriage. But in general, the honeymoon period is when you and your partner are completely engrossed in each other. You can’t get enough of your significant other, and want to learn everything about them while you start a life together.

Some of the challenges are that you’re so engrossed in each other, you might ignore some of the bigger issues. You can’t live too much in the moment in this stage, even though that may bring you happiness. This is prime time for you two to decide where you want your life together to go, and over what time period. You need to establish yourself as a strong couple all around, instead of just having fun in your own little world (or in the bedroom!).

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2. Settling In and Settling Down

You got to know your partner during courtship, and then everything was rosy during the honeymoon period. Once you settle down together, you need to settle in to your life. You’ll learn things about your partner that you might not have previously known, especially if you didn’t live with them. Or maybe you were just so happy in love, it was easy to push these things aside. Well, now you’re a team. You’re building a life together so you need to accept things about your partner (and yourself!) and adapt to it.

One of the challenges can be a power struggle, as you both try to remain individuals while forming a solid partnership. Each of you will be working on fully developing your careers and social lives before children come into the picture, and it may be hard to balance this while still staying in love and focusing on your relationship. This is often a prime time for divorce, but you need to make your relationship a priority to make it to the next step.

3. Family Central

After accomplishing major goals in yours lives, you and your partner will probably be ready to start a family. Whether this means you’re adopting dogs or having children, it’s a new territory to negotiate. You’re adding members to your family, so things are not just about your and your spouse anymore. You have to make room for others without losing track of the love you have for each other.

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There are a lot of challenges at this stage. You’re adding in kids, maybe even a home and mortgage, all those things grown ups do. You have a lot to balance, which means there is a lot of stress. So much depends on you – kids need your help, bills won’t pay themselves, and all of that takes money and effort. It’s easy to push your marriage to the back burner at this time, and let yourself blame your partner for any problems you may be having. Again, it’s important to make your relationship a priority, or it probably won’t last through this rocky phase.

4. Finding Yourself

After your children go to school, there is more freedom for your and your spouse. You kids can do more for themselves, and they’re away during the day, so if either of you stayed home with the kids, you can now go back to being a two income household. You both will have more time and space to figure out who you are, whether you’re working on re-establishing a career, starting something new, or just trying to find what hobbies you’d like to fill your newly-freed time with.

Challenges at this stage are similar to the second stage of Settling In. You and your spouse are both trying to find yourselves again now that the kids are more independent. You’re able to have time to yourself, and you might want that just for yourself – not with your spouse. This is another rocky stage because time alone is so rare, you crave it, but you might be alienating your partner. The solution is, of course, to keep your relationship a priority. If you want time alone, talk it over with your spouse. Make sure there are no hard feelings. Give each other space but come back to each other for support and love as you transition.

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5. Empty Nest

Once your kids leave, it’s just you and your spouse again! That sounds amazing, but it might be more stressful than you’d imagine. You have to learn about your partner again, just like during your courtship – and hopefully like during your honeymoon phase! For so long, you’ve both put the kids and family first, but now you’re able to focus on each other again.

It can be challenging to adapt to being “just the two of us” after so long, especially if the last stage of Finding Yourself was particularly solitary. Partners might grow apart without the kids to keep them together. The answer is, yup, you got it! Make your relationship a priority. Talk to each other about whatever’s on your mind. Don’t keep worrying about the kids or trying to keep in touch with them to save your own relationship, because they need to start their own lives. Make things fun with your spouse so you feel like you’re dating again, splurge on yourselves and see how your relationship can evolve.

6. Compassionate Love

Wow, you’ve made it through all the stages? That’s rare these days, with divorce rates so high. Once you’ve made it this far, you know you’ve got true love. You and your partner have tackled every stage of marriage and come out on top of it all. Celebrate! You need to congratulate yourselves for making it so far, settle in to your golden years and love each other and the family you’ve created.

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Featured photo credit: Eugenio Wilman via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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