The Secret to a Happy Marriage: The Marriage Life Cycle
The fairy tale goes like this; boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after, but is this the whole story?
In real life there are different stages in a marriage, and each is filled with a different set of challenges. Couples must meet these challenges head-on and overcome them to get to the happily ever after. Sadly, failure to overcome these challenges could result in a divorce or being married unhappily ever after.
These stages include:
- Empty nest
- Late life
Each stage comes with its own set of challenges. Understanding the different stages in the cycle of marriage goes a long way towards developing realistic expectations in married life.
Engagement: The engagement stage is usually very happy as romance is high and life is moving forward. Challenges can occur if boundaries are not set between the couple and their families.
Honeymoon: The honeymoon stage tends to be one big power struggle between the couple over multiple issues including time, money, space, problem-solving, and each person’s notion of how things should be. This stage has the highest divorce rate.
Married-with-children: In the married-with-children stage, couples face less time for their relationship and, at the same time, they face more demands of their time from the children and also more demands for financial resources. This stage has the second highest divorce rate.
Mid-Life: In the mid-life marriage stage couples find themselves evaluating their achievements and dealing with disappointments while revising their dreams and expectation. This is a stage of much change in family life.
Empty Nest: In the empty nest stage the challenge is to form a mature adult relationship with just two in the home. Couples who have successfully maintained a loving connection to each other during the previous stages often find themselves on a second honeymoon. However, there is an increase in marriage breakups during this stage for couples who have not been able to maintain their connection to each other over the years.
Late Life: In the late life stage of marriage the challenges include maintaining and building the couple relationship in face of major changes in life. The two changes requiring good coping strategies during this time include retirement and the decline in health.
Life is always a work in progress and so are the best marriages. The best relationships involve challenge. If a marriage does not involve challenge it is barely scraping the surface of what is possible.
In a marriage couples can either elevate the experience or make it worse. Their response to each challenge sets into motion what is possible. Real life is challenging and life without challenge is lifeless. Keeping the marriage happy often involves adaptation to changing life situations. All of us enjoy a little calm. But try viewing difficulties in marriage as opportunities to grow.
- 5 Secrets of a Financially Happy Marriage (quicken.intuit.com)
- 6 Tips For Transitioning Into Marriage (watersedgecounselling.com)
- Britain’s longest married couple tell secret of a long, happy marriage (express.co.uk)