"We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly." —Sam Keen.
One of the more enjoyable parts of my job as a relationship specialist is working with premarital couples. The love they have for each other is so refreshing. They prioritize and value each other and are committed to making their relationships work. Unfortunately, research shows that half of all marriages end in divorce with a spike in the divorce rate at the two-year, seven-year and twenty-year anniversary dates. What's happening within the relationship during these phases?
1. The honeymoon phase. It's universally known as the tender, romantic and idealistic period of marriage. There's an excitement and newness of life where couples are sustained by the immensely positive feelings that seem to trump logic. They can talk with each other for hours about things they've never shared with another. They feel heard, valued and understood; they've finally met their "soul mate."
Those in-love feelings allow them to lower their guard, and they're tolerant and flexible with the foibles of their mate. Couples are able to lose themselves in the passion of the moment. They can easily laugh and play, and they prioritize their partnership. There's an underlying belief that love can overcome all adversity. When conflicts arise, they tend to give their partner the benefit of the doubt, and reach out to try and repair the bond. The honeymoon phase normally lasts between six months to two years.
2. The adjustment phase. This occurs as the newness of the relationship dies down. They experience this stage as the most challenging. They no longer see themselves as partners but instead feel they're in a power struggle. Couples conflict often revolves around the issues of sex and intimacy, money and security and childrearing. Psychologist Azin Nasseri states that: "The high rate of divorce has little to do with compatibility. Rather, it has more to do with the fear of addressing conflict as well as a lack of essential skills and knowledge required to build a healthy relationship. This includes understanding the nature and dynamics of love."
When couples commit to addressing the conflict that has kept them feeling alone — and decide to work through the hurt, anger, fear and resentment — they can transition into the next decade with a renewed commitment, greater appreciation and love for their partner. Keep reading ...
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