I recently learned that one of my brides is getting divorced. I my first reaction was very judgmental, I felt like they must have just given up. They were only married for 2 years, how could they possibly think that was long enough to even try to give their marriage a fair try?
Of course I don’t know the day to day happenings in their lives, what arguments or situations may have lead them to this point. It is certainly wrong of me to judge. I’m not living in their shoes. But I was raised and stand by the belief that divorce simply is not an option. However, persistence is.
If you Google the 5 Stages of Love – you’ll find article after article detailing the 5 phases that relationships cycle through. These certainly aren’t original thoughts of mine but I can’t help but wonder if others knew more about these stages and knew what to expect as their live together merge, that maybe this would help as trouble is certain to arise.
Falling in Love
This seems easy. Everything is bliss and butterflies and seems like the most exciting part of a relationship. Everything is new and fresh and we aren’t annoyed by quirky habits. There’s a hormonal rush and passion is alive. It’s a feeling that we’re sure will last forever and we cannot imagine living without the other person.
I can still remember the night that I first realized I loved my husband. It was a night spent at my apartment, just the two of us talking about our hopes and dreams and what we wanted out of life. We had been dating for a few months and it was like a scene from a romantic movie – the moment that two characters look deeply into each other’s eyes and they just know. The reason we watch those types of movies is because sometimes they’re true or at least we hope they are. I spent years searching for this moment. Life can really be a fairytale, right?
Becoming a Couple
Most people wed during the falling in love stage, so it’s during the first couple years of marriage that they truly become a couple. Lives are merged and two truly become one.
Other couples date a little longer and might “become a couple” might actually take place prior to the wedding. When exactly this phase of love happens isn’t important, what is important is the trust and comfort that’s found in this relationship. There’s security and a deeper sense of who each other is.
After two years of dating, we got married. We purchased and home and moved in together. We began blending everything. Our collage décor, mismatched dishes, routines and schedules. There’s much that happens during this time. And I blissfully thought that this was going to be amazing. I finally had a house of we could call home, after 7 years of living on my own, moving from boring apartment to apartment, now we’d have something that we could remodel and make ours. I thought this would be a great bonding experience and something we’d be proud of, because it would be ours.
This stage was unexpected for me. I have a feeling it might hit a few others as a surprise as well. In fact, when I Googled the 5 Stages of Love caption after caption appeared about couples getting stuck on Stage 3. I can absolutely see this happening.
Apparently this is when it all comes crashing down. One might start questioning everything, does he love me? Did I marry the right man? Why isn’t he talking to me? What did I do? These feelings might slowly start creeping in or perhaps a switch just flips in your relationship.
For us, this was about year 4-5 in marriage. I don’t really remember why it started or what made me start to question everything about my marriage. What I do remember is the numbness and so many tears. I remember feeling as though I simply had a roommate. I felt underappreciated and stuck. While we fought some, sometimes it was more of a lack of communication that drained me. We would only say what absolutely had to be communicated and nothing more. We now had a daughter, and there was talk of having another but I was terrified. We were now a family, shouldn’t we be happy? I never really thought that quitting was an option, but I was exhausted and desperately wanted to feel better. I thought the rest of my life might be summed up by simply tolerating each other rather than actually feeling love.
Photography: Cory Weber Photography
Keep pushing on. That’s what we did. One day we connected, and a switch flipped in our relationship. Suddenly, we felt really connected and dare I say, happy? For us, I can literally pin point 1 day in July when the disillusionment ended and I felt love again. That’s not to say that I still don’t have days when I’m less than enchanted by my husband, but there’s a peace that’s within me knowing that we can make it through anything.
Sometimes I’m saddened by the fact that I know I’ll never feel the excitement of a new relationship again. But having a real love is totally worth never feeling those flutters again. And that’s not to say that I don’t still get excited by my husband, there’s still fun, surprises and excitement – sometimes it just takes a little extra work to keep things new.
Commited Love that Changes the World
I can’t comment much on this stage, I don’t think we’re here. I would say our relationship is comfortably sitting in stage 4 right now. However using your love to change the world sounds like a pretty amazing idea. Not that I think we can change the entire world, but perhaps we should think on a smaller, more local scale. How can we help our community? How can we work together for the greater good?
Here’s what I don’t know. I don’t know what’s on the road ahead for us. Part of me feels like we’ve got a lot of married life ahead of us. While I think we’ve finally figured out how to work together and we’re in a really good place, I think there could possibly be another dose of stage 3 that creeps in. But I know we can work through it and come out stronger on the other side. I certainly don’t expect it to be smooth sailing from this point on. I’m realistic enough to know that we’re two separate people with two separate identities trying to do life together, so at some point there’s bound to be conflict.
My words of caution – know that stage 3 WILL come and be prepared. But you CAN preserve. Of course it’s scary, not knowing when or where it will start or how it will end. But we need to build each other up and encourage one another. Have a good support system and be committed to working through your struggles knowing that a love even better waits on the other side.
for more reading, some here are some of my sources for this article – menalive, david wolfe and this one outlines the stages slightly different, yet the main point is still the same love at first fight