The 5 Stages of Relationships

5 Stages of Relationships

Did you know there are stages in relationships that all couples must go through?   Personally, I did not. But, I have always noticed that after a month or so (give or take a few months); my relationships seem to shift in another direction.  At that point, my theory would be, either they were not the right person for me or I was not the right person for them. Whichever, the case; this was usually the beginning of the end for the relationship.  And, we would both move on to what we thought would be bigger and better.

I love starting a new relationship. Everything is wonderful, everyone is on their best behaviors, and your thoughts stay on this person. Spending time with this person becomes a priority; somehow you manage to fit them into your live. You want to talk to them, laugh with them and in most cases have great sex with them.   Everything is going exactly the way you want it to go, then all of sudden, the rose-colored glasses are removed; the veil is lifted and this person you once adored is now acting as if they have two horns on top of their head and speaking a foreign language. 

What happen?  Where did the love of my life go?  Well according to the ‘Stages of Relationships’, that person is still there but, now we are in a process of evolving to another level of our relationship.   What is that about?

Well, I have to be honest, it has been a long time since I have been able to get pass stage one. I’m not a relationship expert, and never claimed to be. The information I share should be used as an aid for others and myself to create and maintain healthy relationships. 

So here we go;

Phase 1: The Honeymoon (Love- ain’t it great!)

This is the romantic, passionate, stars-in-the-eyes phase. The sex is good and there is never enough of it.
This doesn’t happen for all couples but as a rule, this strong attraction stage is laced with thinking about and wanting to be with, your new love.

Phase 2: Accommodation (O.K, so love isn’t perfect)

Even Romeo and Juliet had they been married, would have had to deal with the day-to-day realities. In the Accommodation Stage roles are established, expectations are set and compromises are made. It is here that disillusionment sets in and power struggles become evident. The other person’s habits, needs, anger and withdrawal patterns become uncomfortably clear. Intense conflict has the potential for developing during this stage. It is most advantageous to learn about problem solving, conflict management and communication during this stage.

Phase 3: The Challenge (Trouble in paradise)

A couple doesn’t really know how strong a relationship is until they deal with the challenges that life brings. Whether it is starting a new job, unemployment or the unfortunate occurrence of an accident or family illness, we all face challenges in life. The Challenge Stage lets the partners know what they can expect from each other during these demanding times.

Children and family crises are important factors during this stage. Each partner sets their own rules and expectations for raising children and how extended family issues should be handled. The challenge here is to be aware of this fact and find a successful compromise in meeting each other’s rules and expectations.

During the Challenge Phase there is a certain amount of disillusionment. The relationship is not what it was dreamed to be and one or both partners may be increasingly attracted to other people of the opposite sex. Sometimes, there is fantasizing about past loves. This is a time when the relationship is very vulnerable to unfaithfulness. How couples deal with this phase will determine the direction that it will take in the Crossroads Phase.

Phase 4: The Crossroads (What do I do at this stage of my life?)

Once couples reach this stage they have already experienced some challenges (e.g. medical or money problems) and now other life decisions will have to be made (e.g. to have children, where to live, how to spend money). This stage is different from the Challenge Phase because a number of challenges have already occurred and the couple has learned how each other responds in these situations. The emotional patterns of each are clear and they have established patterns of dealing with their differences. It is common for problems to arise in this stage, but because you have already experienced a great many shared challenges, you stand the best chance of working through these issues and getting to the Rebirth Stage. The three most common negative patterns for individuals to engage in during this stage are:

  1. Being resigned to sticking with the bad decision of staying in the relationship;
  2. Emotional withdrawal;
  3. Trying to force the other person into being different.

Phase 5: Rebirth (New marriage)

it is estimated that only 15% of all couples reach this stage. At this point, folks have figured out “the real person” they have married. To achieve it they will have successfully dealt with the Accommodation, Challenge and Crossroads Stages. In this phase, couples learn how and when to compromise and they truly (not on the surface) accept areas of differences with minimum resentment. In this stage couples learn to re-appreciate and re-love each other and:

• Focus on what is right with each other;
• Give each other the benefit of the doubt in conflict situations;
• Successfully manage and truly accept frustrations, disappointments and hurts;
• Agree to disagree and fully value each other even if they are totally unable to see things the same way;
• Have a give and take sexual relationship on a regular basis;
• Communicate in such a way they really listen to and hear each other;
• Can disagree with each other and be O.K with that;
• Recover from their disagreements within a short period of time;
• Constantly find things to appreciate about each other;
• Spend time relaxing and having fun on a weekly basis;
• Spend time talking about issues that come up in their relationship.

This is just one of many websites that discuss and identify the Stages of Relationships.  But, they all speak on one common theme:  We have to go through different phases and/or stages, to develop committed and healthy relationships. 

To see this article in its entirety visit:  http://family-marriage-counseling.com/mentalhealth/relationship-basics.htm

My question is:  How do you know when it is worth the time and effort to push through to the next stage?

Live, Love and Laugh Often

Charlette Marie

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