7 Stages of Marriage, Part 2

7 Stags of Marriage, Part 2: Rebellion, Cooperation, Explosion

This is part 2 of my interpretation of the Readers Digest article The 7 Stages of Marriage. Not all marriages will follow these stages, but they can be helpful in giving us perspective and wisdom.

Part 1 covered the first 2 stages:
1. Passion--the stage when we "fall in love"
2. Realization--the stage when we begin viewing our marriages more realistically 

Now for stages 3-5: Rebellion, Cooperation, and Explosive:

3. The Rebellion Stage
Some people at this stage of marriage long for the freedom and fun of their single lives. 

I never experienced this stage, probably because I was married at 19 and hadn't enjoyed much single life. But I have experienced the feelings of discontent at times.

Humanly, we long for things we don't have and overlook the many things we have.

If you are struggling with the responsibilities of marriage and parenting, take it to the Lord and be deliberate about renewing your mind.

Romans 12:1-2:Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

This is the stage when spouses learn how to fight dirty, hurt each other, have affairs and split up. Or they learn how to deal with conflict, fight fair, and honor their commitment.

In this second part to the "Stages of Marriage" series, we look at the stages of Rebellion, Cooperation, and Explosion.
4. The Cooperation Stage
At this stage, marriage can become "business-like." 

This happened to my marriage because I began to focus too much on my children and my husband focused too much on his career. Even though we still had "date nights" and made efforts, and we still loved each other, we grew apart by focusing our time and energies outside of our marriage (i.e. children/career).

In hindsight, I think we moms rarely recognize that we're seeking too much fulfillment from our children. Child-rearing is a significant part of our lives, and the changes children bring to our marriage are both obvious and subtle.

Many of us are guilty of child-idolatry--placing the secondary interests of our children above the primary interests of our marriage. (See A Wheel, Not a List and Needs & Desires.)

5. The Explosion Stage
The Reader's Digest article also identifies a stage that isn't chronological when you have to deal with job loss, death, major health or financial problems. 

"Confronted by a personal crisis, your marriage can be a source of solace or be sorely tried by the unexpected pressure of new roles, new limitations and new fears." 

These are times when we must do whatever we can to de-stress our marriage and persevere in prayer, forgiveness and the strength of the Lord. 

This explosive stage also occurs if there is infidelity in a marriage, and it happens in Christian marriages more than we make think.

If infidelity is the problem, we need to seek Christian counsel from solid older couples and the guilty party needs to offer genuine repentance and have regular accountability. See He Apologized for His Affair for insight into genuine repentance.

Don't miss the final 2 stages in Part 3.


  1. Gail,
    The cooperation stage just about killed my marriage. It's quite deceptive in its destructiveness. My husband and I never fought, worked cooperatively with each other, and shared common goals. What we didn't realize, though, was that we'd fallen into more of a roommate relationship than a lover relationship. I blogged about it in my post "Are You Roommates or Lovers?" because I think it happens more than we realize. Somewhere along the way, the sparkle tarnishes and we're too lazy, unaware, or uncommitted to address it. Thankfully, the Lord brought wise teaching into our lives that encouraged us to put our marriage back in first place above our parenting (and below our relationship with the Lord). We renewed our love commitment to each other, and it's been a lovely 28+ years so far :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts and sounding the alarm for marriages everywhere. Lori, from Hungry for God; Starving for Time.

    1. I enjoyed your post on this subject, Lori. I hope anyone struggling with this stage will read it. Lots of helpful info.

      The name "cooperation" can be deceptive just like the stage itself.

  2. It is so easy for a young mom to put those children ahead of their husbands. It's even easy for an older mom if she's not careful. Older kids can have lots of outside activities and mom can drive them around, volunteer and get overly involved, and dad gets shoved to the side.

    I remember talking with a gal once who said that she nearly left her husband after her kids grew up, because she said she had "lived for her children" all those years. They are still married today but they needed to work to get close again.

    Thanks so much for linking up to the "Making Your Home Sing Monday" linky party today! ;)

  3. I should add she said this after her kids grew up and moved out.

  4. I think I said this last week, but I love that you are going through the stages of marriage, Gail. This is an area that has always interested me and I'm finding the way you are laying these out to be very practical, helpful and useful. I know that I'm going to be referring to these often in the future. Thanks so much linking this up with the WW linkup and for your sweet encouragement, my friend!

  5. Your insights are so good! I paused at #4, cooperation. The Chicago Tribune published an article that compared millennial moms to baby boomer moms. In a survey, 69% of millennial moms said that they think of themselves as a parent first and a wife second. Only 50% of baby boomer moms said this. More about this survey is included in my blog.

  6. Very good points. Marriage does have its stages. I know after nearly 5 year with just hubby and I, we almost have a cycle. Once I recognized what was happening we were able to work on it and see the signs of the, well really the cooperation stage.
    Now that we are thinking kids, I wonder how that will change the dynamics of our marriage. And I know it will change :)

  7. My husband has so much rebellion in his life that it is not just with our marriage but with himself he is going thru a mental breakdown I think and cannot deal with anything. I wish there was any type of cooperation!

    1. I pray that God will guide you and your husband through this difficulty, Janelle.