Three Stages of Marriage
According to researcher and practitioner Jeffrey Larson , most wedding going through at least three general stages of development: (1) romantic love (2) disillusionment and distraction and (3) dissolution, adjustment with resignation, or adjustment with contentment. In the first stage of marriage, according to Larson, couples tend to be so caught up in passion and physical attraction that issues like sacrifice, selfishness, expectations, and crises are not faced or dealt with. When the honeymoon begins to wear off, then these issues begin to influence and impact the relationship. Daily life stressors and other crises often occur that require sacrifices to be made, selfishness to be checked and given up, and expectations to be discarded or modified. Such disillusionments and distractions can lead to less time spent together, less time spent on the relationship, a reduction in a couples sex life, and sexual boredom. When a couple reaches the end of this second stage, according to Larson, they often feel disappointed and unfulfilled. It is then that a couple moves into the third stage with at least three options available to them: (1) They can dissolve the marriage relationship; (2) They can adjust while resigning to the fact that their marriage will not improve and that they will continue to grow apart; or, (3) They can work hard on their relationship and experience growing contentment and satisfaction as tools are gained, issues are worked through and resolved, and increased companionate and altrusitic love are developed with a little romantic love added to the mix. One of the toughest things for men and women to sometimes understand is that as the relationship develops and moves through these stages, intense and passionate love tends to diminish as it moves more fully into these other two styles of love - companionate and altruisitic love. Larson concludes by saying that every couple must make the decision whether or not they will dissolve the relationship, adjust in the relationship with resignation, or adjust in the relationship with growing contentment and satisfaction. His point is that many marriages could adjust with growing contentment and satisfaction if they would commit to recognizing their marriage needs help, become aware of strengths and weaknesses, understand the contexts that influence marital adjustment, gain the tools to improve traits that help or hurt the relationship, and commit to a plan for improving the relationship.