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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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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