Rita DeMaria, PhD
CFR Connections Newsletter - June 2007
Ups and downs are natural in marriage – everyone knows that. Just ask someone who has been married for any period of time. But what most people don’t realize is that the ups and downs are actually predictable. Short cuts to avoid some problems are possible. Really! Not only are the bumps along the road of marriage predictable, but there are simple rules to follow that can act like shock absorbers along the way. Every time someone hears about my new book, The 7 Stages of Marriage, they ask, “What stage am I in?” Why the same question over and over again? The answer is simple - we want answers to how we can keep our relationship loving and vital.
Knowing that marriage has stages helps relieve anxiety and stress during times of trouble. You gain the perspective you need to understand what is going on at this time in your life. Learning that there is a predictable pace and flow to the journey of your marriage can help you focus your energy when you feel overwhelmed and confused. One of the most exciting things about understanding the stages of marriage is that you can set a course for having the marriage that you want. And, it helps you make corrections along the way.
In some ways, marriage today is the same as it always was. Most people want to be, and will be, married at some time in their life. Despite the social changes in our culture including divorce rates and cohabitation statistics, in a wide range of surveys 95% of people say that marriage is important to them. By the age of 40, 90% of men and women will have been married at least once. Seventy percent of people who divorce, remarry. The good news today is that marriage is a choice, not a requirement. Today, many of those who are married say that they are, in fact, happy with their marriages. In a survey commissioned by Reader’s Digest in 2006, through a randomized, scientific selection process, over 71% of those surveyed (who were married) said they would marry their partner again. The survey also found that trust is the number one factor that people value in their marriages. That makes sense because today most marriages are based on the expectations of lasting love and equal partnership. Trust is the foundation for creating a loving, passionate, cooperative, healthy marriage.
The 7 Stages of Marriage provides a practical, life-long map to help you keep your marriage working as the loving, mutually-beneficial partnership that it should be. Each stage has its normal developmental missions and tasks that you can identify and work through in many different ways. Once you identify the stage you are in (or the stages you may be between), you can choose some ways to address the issues you are having. Researchers are finding that marriage has long-term benefits: married people live longer, have more financial security, are healthier, have more sex and deal with stress more constructively. They have also found that marriage is a dynamic, changing relationship. Marriage is a journey. Having a map to guide you along the way is a useful tool. Remember that every journey is a unique adventure.