The following are quotes from various resources, which center on the different stages of marriage.
• Life is lived in seasons. And similar to the natural seasons, there is a seeming tug of war between the seasons of life as one merges into the next and things change. A great question to be aware of and answer together is, “What season are we in right now in our relationship or in our lives?” Periodically looking at everything in your life through this lens is a key to being able to flow with and appreciate what each season brings your way. It’s a crucial key to your attitude and ability to enjoy each season for what it is. (Rowan and Mara Fraser, from Couplethingsblog.wordpress.com article, “Driving Your Conversations Deeper: Seasons”)
• Each marriage goes through different seasons, and each season has distinct challenges and specific blessings. Newlyweds have the challenge of considering another person’s desires. But they soon discover the joys of married life as they learn to care for each other. The arrival of a first child ushers in a different season in marriage and brings with it the challenge of sacrificing the couple’s wants to care for the needs of a baby. Both mates are challenged to learn flexibility, for life with a young child is unpredictable and taxing. But there is a wonderful blessing in watching this treasure begin to respond to your love.
The season of having children at home brings many challenges. One is finding time to cultivate our marriage relationships. We are forced to reorder our priorities and determine what really matters in family life. That reordering brings blessings to our marriages. Some seasons are more challenging than others. The benefit lies in working through the challenges and focusing on the blessings. Ask God to give you a fresh vision for the season you are in right now. Fresh vision often comes when we recognize and develop our gifts. We want to be with those who bring out the best in us and encourage us. A blessing we can give each other is to encourage one another’s gifts. (Susan Yates, from book, “A House Full of Friends”)
• Your marriage must be built to outlast your children. Even if you do not have children yet, the principle remains the same for any marriage regardless of the season of life —your marriage must be built to grow through every life stage and still be on its feet at the finish line. Just what can you expect in the years ahead, and what can you do to make sure your marriage reaches its full, vibrant maturity? (Dennis and Barbara Rainey, book: “Starting Your Marriage Right”)
• Sometimes a marriage has been too child-centered to the detriment of the couple relationship. It is important for couples entering any stage of marriage to commit to keeping the relationship “partner-centered.” In a “we-centered” marriage, the couple’s love relationship is central in their daily lives. This allows their love to flow outwards to their children and others. The Church makes it clear that couples are called to love one another in an extraordinary fashion. A good way to begin redefining the marriage is to reread your wedding vows to one another.
Allowing oneself to grieve the loss of particular roles enjoyed during parenting years is a healthy start to new growth. Discussing openly the strengths and limitations of the relationship and setting new goals together is also helpful. Letting go of old hurts and resentments is a necessary step towards growing healthier and holier in the marriage. Sometimes professional help may be needed. (From the Foryourmarriage.org article, “The Empty Nest”)
• Each passage of marriage through which every married couple travel, like bases on a softball diamond, must be appropriately dealt with if the next one is to count. And the tasks that accompany these passages must be completed before the next tasks commence. By tasks we mean attitude changes one must make and jobs one must complete in order to maintain an intimate marital relationship. Should a runner skip over a base, inadvertently or on purpose, dire problems result. Should a runner get stuck on one base, the only way he can leave is by walking away scoreless. That’s infinitely less satisfying than making it to home plate, for the aim of the game from the very beginning is to make it home. (From the book “Passages of Marriage” by Minirth, Newman, and Hemfelt)
• There is a cost in keeping the marriage relationship vital and growing. One of the prices paid is in time. It’s a payment that can’t be held back without devastating consequences. So to continue ensuring a joyful relationship, or to return to a more loving relationship, decide here and now that you, as a couple, are going to pay the price in time. (From the book, “Opposites Attack” by Jack and Carole Mayhall)
• The bottom line of your marriage contract is the bottom line of any union contract —two entities helping each other succeed and move forward. (From the book “Passages” by Minirth, Newman, and Hemfelt)
• The Romantic Love stage often feels so good that you want it to last forever. In fact, you expect it to last forever! In a new job or a new love, everything seems perfect at first. When you see things that you don’t like, you might deny or at least minimize them. You tend to go above and beyond what is required or expected. You feel energized, alive, and filled with new dreams. In romantic relationships, your heart is filled with love and you know that this person loves you. You both find many ways to show your love. When you’re apart, you are thinking of one another. Everything feels right. Some people feel a sense of finally ‘being home’ or of being ‘complete’, feeling alive and connected.
What we now know through research is that not only is your heart full of love, but your brain is flooded with feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine and PEA (phenoethalymine). Chemically, it belongs to the type of drugs like amphetamines. However, the effect it has on behavior is similar to that of an endorphin. Like most endorphins, PEA increases energy, feelings of well being, positive outlook, and diminishes pain. It increases sexual desire. PEA is what allows you to skip meals and sleep. If you usually tend to be anxious, PEA may help you feel safe and calm. If you are usually depressed, you might have more energy and see things more positively. You believe that it is this other person that brings the best out in you at last you’ve found the one! In some ways you are loving ‘under the influence!’ So, enjoy if you are in this stage! (Dawn J. Lipthrott from the About.com article “Are You Going Through a Stage in Your Marriage or Relationship“)
• Getting to “we” seems like a given for newlyweds: You’ve planned the wedding together, tied the knot in front of friends and family, earned the marriage license that proves the two of you are an official legal entity. Yet experts say it’s important to make a concerted effort to heighten and reinforce this new sense of oneness —and then to guard and protect it. “It’s so important that couples form their own new, separate union together,” says Claudia Arp, who with her husband, David, founded Marriage Alive International and co-authored marriage books including 10 Great Dates to Energize Your Marriage.”
“But we see a lot of husbands and wives who never, ever re-prioritize their relationship after marriage. They’re still entwined with their family of origin, putting their parents and siblings first. Or they’ve been on their own for years and don’t realize that their friends or job or other interests no longer take precedence. You need to be able to say ‘My spouse comes first.’ Yes, you love and respect your parents. And you still get together with your friends. But this is your anchor relationship. If you establish this now, it will be easier to hold on to when life becomes more complicated later in your marriage.” (Sari Harrar and Rita DeMaria, from “7 Stages of Marriage” from chapter “8 Ways to Forge a Sense of We”)
• A crucial task facing couples in the first few years of marriage is developing an identity as a couple. In part, couples have to define “who is in” and “who is out” of their relationship. … After newlyweds define who they are as a couple, they next must face a long list of decisions about how roles and duties will be divided up. This is a challenging task that requires honest communication so a couple can work together on the best solutions. The couples who come out of this stage the strongest are the ones who develop a clear and stable sense of “us” so they can approach life as a team. (Scott Stanley, from the article, “Now and Forever” from Marriage Partnership Magazine)
• “Too often when the children leave the nest, couples move from a child-focused marriage to an activity-focused marriage,” Claudia Arp said. “Community or church activities may now take up the time and energy formerly devoted to your children. Kids were buffers and unfortunately, these activities may still be buffers to a mutual partnership marriage. “Couples need to make the transition to a partner-focused relationship.” (Linda Wessling, from the Fifty Plus Advocate article, “When the Kids Fly the Coop”)
• Our marriages are never static; they are always changing —either growing or withering. …Oneness in marriage gives the picture of two persons joining their lives to form a marriage team —growing in intimacy in all areas, enjoying one another completely. Any help we offer our mate helps our team. Any pain, hurt, insult, any lack of support or faithfulness, any failure to help our mate will reflect back on our team. (From the book, “The Marriage Track” by Dave and Claudia Arp)
• We’ve all heard jokes about marriage ruining a perfectly good relationship. And it might even feel like that in your own relationship or in that of someone you care about. Why does something that starts out feeling so good seem to go downhill once you take that step of commitment? One reason is that relationships go through predictable stages, although the intensity may vary from person to person and couple to couple. You may notice that relationships with friends, a boss, a job, or an adopted child may follow a similar pattern; everything seems wonderful and then the “honeymoon” is over.
Frustrations or hurt feelings begin to mount. In marriage or in a deeply committed love relationship, these stages take on new intensity. There is much more at stake when we make a commitment to spend our lives together to love and be loved. So why does the love seem to go away? One of the culprits is that couples get stuck in one of the early stages and are no longer moving through them. (Dawn J. Lipthrott, from article, “Are you Going Through a Stage in Your Marriage?)
• Being aware of the stages of marriage should help couples to understand that their relationship, even if in a tough or awkward spot, is probably normal. Even with the ups and downs faced in absolutely every relationship, you can still have an amazing connection with your partner for decades to come. All it takes is a little attention, love and effort. Do it! You are worth it. (Dawn J. Lipthrott, from the article, “The Stages of Marriage: Reality Check)
• I‘m certain that if more couples realized that there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they’d be more willing to tough it out through the downpour. The problem is, most people fool themselves into thinking that whatever stage they are in at the moment, is where they will be forever. That can be a depressing thought when you’re in the midst of hard times. And in marriage, there are lots of hard times, unexpected problems with infertility, the births of children (marital satisfaction goes down with the ‘birth of each child), the challenges of raking a family, children leaving home, infidelity, illnesses, deaths of close friends and family’ members. (Michele Weiner-Davis, from the book, “The Divorce Remedy”)
• Seasons change, and so will the place you’re in now in your marriage. And when a season starts to change, talk about it openly. Talk, discover, share what’s coming down the road. Instead of having static expectations about your relationship, feel free to let them follow the natural rhythm of the seasons your love will pull you into.
Life is lived in seasons. Which one are you in? What do you like and not like about it? What season is coming? Face it together, hand in hand. (Rowan and Mara Fraser, from Couplethingsblog.wordpress.com article, “Driving Your Conversations Deeper: Seasons”)
• It takes guts to stay married … There will be many crises between the wedding day and the golden anniversary, and the people who make it are heroes. (Howard Whitman)