3 Biggest Danger Zones In Every Marriage

Every marriage has three phases that correspond to the times couples typically get divorced.

The 3 Danger Zones In Every Marriage getty

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 by heeding marriage advice.

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?


RELATED: The Top 6 Mistakes Women Make That *Gulp* Lead To Divorce

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 "soulmate."

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.


RELATED: Why Your Marriage Will Most Likely End In Divorce (And Why It's Completely Normal)

Couples conflict often revolves around the issues of sex and intimacy, money and security and childrearing. Psychologist Azin Nasseri states, "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.

3. The empty nest phase

Couples are at a new crossroads: their twenty-year anniversary mark. The responsibilities for raising children have shifted. They're transitioning out of the home. The excuse that the couple is together because of the children no longer holds water. They are now face to face with figuring out how they want to spend the rest of their lives together.


This stage presents a great opportunity for couples to redefine and reprioritize their relationships. Love is no longer experienced as the passionate one-night stand but has developed into the mature stage based on the decision to love. They're in this relationship because they value, cherish, accept and want to be with their partners. They've weathered the stormiest of storms together.

(An old joke: A priest, a minister, and a rabbi are debating the question, "When does life begin?" The priest says, "At conception, of course!" The minister says, "At birth!" The rabbi says, "When the last kid goes to college, and the dog dies!")

RELATED: 6 Signs Your Marriage Is On The Fast Track To Divorce


Carolyn Gerard has been a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist since 1985. She specializes in relationship therapy, premarital counseling, couples on the brink of divorce, and couples in transition.