NAVIGATING THE STAGES OF MARRIAGE
“Marriage is a full-time job; wooing is your application, courtship your interview, engagement your job offer, and honeymoon, your orientation.”
― Matshona Dhliwayo
More often than not, newlyweds find out from the moment they get married that the reality of marriage is a lot different from what they’d imagined. Granted, as they said their vows—for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health—they had every intention of living happily ever after. Nonetheless, a lot of new couples discover that the other side is not quite what they’d anticipated. Although possible, it is unlikely that your situation will be different.
All marriages experience struggles and challenges, be they in the areas of finance, in-law relations, child-rearing, communication, sex, personal happiness or fulfillment, etc. These challenges often change in nature as the marriage matures.
A marriage matures or develops through four predictable stages that can be compared to the stages of human growth—childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. The four stages of marriage are:
1. The dream stage
2. The drama stage
3. The discovery stage
4. The depth stage
The interesting thing about these stages is that it is not possible to move from one to the next without first accomplishing all the necessary tasks in the prior stage. It is like trying to move from one class to the next in school. The success of the subsequent class is determined to a large measure by the success of the preceding class. This means that the more successful couples are at managing their challenges in their early years together, the more likely they are to succeed in their later years. For this reason, it is very important to accomplish the stage-related tasks as successfully as possible so that the marriage can be fulfilling in the long run.
For the rest of the course, we’ll be defining the characteristics and accompanying tasks of the four stages of marriage.