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Stages of marriage and role of communication in a relationship-

Updated on August 20, 2012


Einstein once said, “Marriage is the unsuccessful attempt to make something lasting out of an accident.”

The above quote doesn’t mean that it is very difficult to make a marriage a success, which happened to have taken place due to the accidental meeting of two people. It doesn’t suggest that a love or marriage is a mistake. Love is involuntary and unintentional. What it means is that love can not be directed and controlled. Love is sometimes directed towards some one who can not return it. This then brings unbearable misery in one’s life. If returned reciprocally, it has a capacity to bring great joy to both who share love.

A marriage requires constant efforts by both the partners to make it work. Both the partners must give more to a marriage than to expect too much from it. Who has to contribute more in a marriage depends on the circumstances and situations like in any relationship.

A marriage passes through mainly five stages.

  • The stage of romantic love- This is a wonderful stage due to the emotional high. This stage is short in arranged marriages, which starts immediately after marriage. This stage typically lasts from 1 to 3 years depending upon the arrival of children and whether the couple has lived together before. The emotional high in this stage is brought on by the release of naturally occurring opiates, serotonin and oxytocin in the body.
  • The stage of reality- The couple learns about each other’s weaknesses, strengths and habits. In this post honeymoon stage, they are disillusioned. They play power struggle games. They fret over trivial matters. This stage lasts from 2 to 3 years. This is the stage when the couple thinks about divorce for the first time, if their interests vary widely and the disillusionment continues. The bio-chemical changes, which had taken place, now have dissipated and they feel that the rug has been pulled from under their feet. The emotionally needy partner will feel neglected. The independent partner will feel suffocated and controlled. Such a discord will change the brain chemistry to such an extent as to destroy love and affectionate attachment between the couple.
  • The stage of transformation- The couple becomes more aware of their love for each other and spends the time in raising family, buying a home and building careers. This is a very demanding period since the couple has a kid, have to pay for mortgage and have to build their professional careers. This puts a tremendous amount of strain on the marriage. On realizing the futility of marriage, this is anther stage when the couple thinks about the divorce.
  • The stage of empty nest- This follows after the children grow up and leave. This is in fact the stage when re-union of the couple takes place. They are getting to know each other all over again and to have fun once again.
  • The stage of completion- When the couple has enjoyed the lust, lived the love and came through the chaos of family life, this stage takes over. This is the stage when the retired, empty nest couples still enjoy being together.

There is a less discrete stage, which may come any time in the marriage, when a major life stressor like fertility issues, a death in a family, a major illness or loss of job may cause serious economic and emotional upheaval. This may cause an explosion in a marriage and may lead the couple to separation or divorce.

Every marriage will give a bumpy ride to it’s the partners. It is inevitable that a marriage will face some or other problem at times, which will require urgent and effective solution in order to avoid the further deterioration of the problem. The communication is a very effective way to sort out problems in a relationship. It acts as a glue to hold the marriage or a relationship together. Poor communication can create a sense of dissatisfaction and confusion between the partners in a marriage. The following is a checklist of steps for the effective communication.

  • Make sure the spouse is attentive- If you have to discuss a sensitive issue, first make sure that your spouse is listening. Otherwise the discussion will not fructify. Postpone the discussion to a time when your spouse is attentive.
  • Begin with a positive note- If any discussion is started with a negative note, it is likely that it will be rejected by the other partner, who will bear the brunt of blame.
  • Accept the mistakes- Never try to win over a partner in a relationship. Always apologize for your mistakes. A simple “I am sorry is not enough” but make a sincere effort to avoid the same mistakes in future.
  • Accept the difference- We all have differences of personality. Similarly, the spouses have their own differences. Listen to the position of your partner and share yours as well.
  • Cultivate interests- Always develop interests in hobbies and avocations of the spouse. Share the experiences with each other; they will help the future of your relationship.
  • Go an extra mile- This is quite important in forging a healthy relationship. Do things without being asked. Responsibility should not fall on one person but the spouses should share the responsibility of each other.
  • Have a sense of humor- Laugh whenever you can. Laugh with each, not at each other.
  • Avoid labels- Don’t slap a label on your spouse like a jerk or an idiot. This will lead to arguments and verbal spats.
  • Don’t threaten- Threats put some one in a corner. A marriage needs co-operation and not intimidation. Persistent use of threat will damage and destroy a relationship.
  • Don’t bottle up the body language- The non-verbal communication is quite effective in conveying our intentions. We should avoid showing aggression in the non-verbal communication.
  • Don’t be judgmental- Instead of speculating on the flaws- real or imagined- of the spouse, we should have the discussion in a congenial environment without being judgmental.

By following these simple but time-tested observations, one can improve one’s communication skills and enhance one’s marital and other relations.


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