Written by: By Michele Weiner-Davis
Stage Four- That’s just the way s/he is
In stage four, we finally come to terms with the fact that we are never going to see eye-to-eye with our partners about everything and we have to figure out what we must do to live more peaceably. We look to others for suggestions; we seek religious counsel, talk to close friends and family, attend marital therapy, read self-help books, or take a relationship seminar. Those of us who are more private look inward and seek solutions there.
We more readily forgive our spouses for their hardheadedness, and recognize that we aren’t exactly easy to live with either. When disagreements occur, we make more of an effort to put ourselves in our partner’s shoes. We recognize that, as with everything in life, we have to accept the good with the bad. Fights happen less frequently and when they occur, they’re not as intense or as emotional as in the earlier years of marriage. And because we’re smart enough to have reached this stage, we reap the benefits of the fifth, and final stage.
Stage Five- Together, at last
It is really a tragedy that half of all couples who wed never get to stage five, when all the pain and hard work of the earlier stages really begins to pay off. Since you are no longer in a struggle to define who you are and what the marriage should be, there is more peace and harmony. You start “liking” your spouse again.
By the time you reach stage five, you have a shared history. And although you’d both agree that marriage hasn’t been easy, you feel proud that you’ve weathered the storms. You appreciate your partner’s sense of commitment to making your marriage last. You feel more secure about yourself as a person and you begin to appreciate the differences between you and your spouse. And what you don’t appreciate, you find greater acceptance for. If you have children, they’re older and more independent, allowing you to focus on your marriage again, like in the old days. And you start having “old day feelings” again. You have come full circle.
I’m certain that if more couples realized that there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they’d be more willing to tough it out through the downpour. The problem is, most people fool themselves into thinking that whatever stage they are in at the moment, is where they will be forever. But it’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever. There are seasons to everything in life, including marriage. The wiser and more mature you become, the more you realize this. The more you realize this, the more time you and your spouse spend hanging out in stage five. Together again, at last.
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