Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stages of Marriage

One of the guys that I work for had me transcribe some old old sermon notes of his. In one of them he had spoken about marriage, and he'd divided up marriage into four stages. I'd never seen it articulated quite like this:

Possible Stages of Marriage
  1. Postnatal – this is the honeymoon stage of bliss and usually covers the first year.
  2. Infancy – this is the balancing time between freedoms and limitations connected with being “the other half” … years two to five
  3. Adolescent-Young Adult – This period begins at about five years into the marriage and can continue for ten years or longer. Identity crisis may occur in the process of “building the family.”
  4. Middle Years – At fifteen to twenty-five years, great tensions and a sense of disenchantment with marriage often sets in.
I thought that was really interesting, because Isaac and I celebrated our fourth year of marriage this summer. I still feel like a young married, certainly, but I was certainly surprised to see myself still in the "infancy" stage in the above grouping!

What I really liked about this is that it identifies general struggles within each stage. The one stage that I disagree with above is that I think the first year of marriage can often be a VERY difficult year. I think adjusting to living with someone and being together at the time can be shockingly difficult to some couples.

I agree with the unique struggle of the "infancy" stage. For me, grasping the freedoms and limitations of marriage has been something that we have had to steadily grow into. I also think I'll be right in line with the unique struggle of the "adolescent-young adult". When we have kids, I'll absolutely struggle with my identity in the parenting stage.

Initially I found it potentially discouraging to look at how every stage is presented as difficult. Really, though I think that just like in regular life, each of us has stages that we breeze through while people around us struggle, and other stages that we particularly struggle in. Which stage will we struggle with? Hmm... We'll see.


Lauren said...

N and I will celebrate 3 years in October, and I can see how this is true. He and I struggle with the yours-mine-ours factor of marriage. And our first year was very very rough, but so worth pushing thru. And truely, while I do not enjoy the struggles, I have accepted them as part of being an imperfect human attempting an audacious task with another imperfect human - to live in a true intimate relationahip as one-flesh. The struggles refine us, and make us cherish the moments of bliss more. ~ L

Togenberg said...

I wonder how a model could account for various factors - age of partners when they marry, the economics/class involved, religion, personality types, the maturity of each, and the modeling of marriage they was impressed on them. I dunno. But the path of intimacy (and I don't mean solely sexual or even marital but all good and healthy forms) seems one of the most important things we can be involved with. From me to we.

But the beauty of any model/typology (whether this or the stages of grief or something like Meyers-Briggs or etc.) is less the accuracy of plotting phenomena but rather more the beginning of *great* discussions and possibly of great realization.