7 Stages of Marriage, Part 3

Stages of Marriage, dealing with different stages of marriage
This is the final part of 7 Stages of Marriage.(1)
In Part 1, I talked about:

1. The Passion Stage--when we fall in love
2. The Realization Stage--when reality about marriage sets in
In Part 2, I talked about

3. The Rebellion Stage--when single life beckons
4. The Cooperation Stage--when marriage becomes "business-like"
5. The Explosive Stage--when problems occur

In this final post, I'll talk about the Reunion and Completion Stages of marriage.
 
6. Reunion
This stage happens when you are empty-nesters (or at least partially). Careers are established and finances are, hopefully, more stable. It's time to get reacquainted with your spouse.

This sounds easy, but it was the hardest stage in my marriage. For one thing, we had been seeking our fulfillment in children and career instead of in God (see Part 2), and we also had "too many" transitions at once:
  • I went from close personal homeschool contact with my children to having them in Ukraine for a year doing mission work. And this was during a time (1991-92) when we didn't have email, regular mail and faxes were unreliable, and regular phone calls were very expensive.
  • My husband retired from the Army which had been our "way of life" for 22 years.
  • We went to a 6 month mission training school and then decided the Lord wanted us to return to help my father after my mom's death.
  • For about 6 months my husband did temp work before getting a job in a church.
Stages of Marriage, dealing with different stages of marriage
Having these major transitions in every area of our lives made this stage all the more difficult. If it's possible for you to spread out these types of transitions, I would recommend it.
   
Our "Reunion Stage" took about 2 years, and I must admit that during this stage, there were times I felt no emotional love for my husband at all. We were redefining who we were and redefining our marriage, and it was messy and painful.

Our difficult transition ended when a trial, not related to our marriage, brought us closer together in mutual support and sympathy. (See Explosive Stage in Part 2)

Whether you have the added difficulties we had or not, be aware that this can be a hard stage for many marriages. The divorce rate among couples married over 30 years has been increasing significantly. And authorities cite these reasons (2):
  1. The only thing couples have in common is the children.
  2. They don't enjoy the increased amount of time they have together.
  3. They can't handle the health issues and uncertainty of aging.
During this stage, we must strive for flexibility, commitment, and hope, and our relationship with the Lord is the key.

7. Completion
Surveys find "marital happiness soars after several decades of a shared life." And it's not simply about having more time together; it's about genuinely knowing, respecting and loving each other. 

I'm in this stage of marriage, and I can say it's the best! Better than stage 1. And it's better because our marriage has weathered the other stages and we've learned through them and deepened our commitment to each other and to the Lord.

But I also want to add that I am still learning new things about myself at this stage and still seeing areas where I fail my husband. I still need to be deliberate about repenting, forgiving, and investing in my marriage.

I like this paragraph from the Reader's Digest article:
"Part of being a happy man is to never lose the boy within; the same goes for women – there is the spirit of a young girl inside, no matter how many wrinkles edge the eyes. Maintaining a childlike love of life, laughter, nature, and each other is the real secret to a perpetually blessed relationship. It is also living in the present, not the past. In the completion stage of marriage, there is never a belief that the best times are over – they should always be today and tomorrow."

I pray for each of you whatever stage of marriage you are in. Hold on tight to each other and to the Lord. There is so much truth in the line:
"My love grow old with me, the best is yet to be."

(1)These posts are a combination of the material presented in the Reader's Digest articles plus my personal insights and experiences.
(2) Midlife/Empty Nest 

5 comments:

  1. This was an excellent post, Gail. Thanks so much for sharing your insight and struggles so others can glean from you.

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  2. I remember you sharing about this tumultuous stage at Messy Marriage back in November, I think it was. I'm so glad you and your husband weathered that hard time and came through even stronger. I've been noticing that about the stage my husband and I are in--just before or almost into the Reunion Stage. I see that the "messes" and trials we've been through have drawn us closer together. But I think some couples let those hard times pull them apart instead. Thankfully, God gave us, and it sounds like you and your husband, the strength to pull together and forge an unbeatable bond! Thanks for fleshing out all of these stages, Gail. Again, I really find this fascinating! And I'm so glad you linked it up at Wedded Wed. :)

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    1. You are always such an encouragement to me, Beth, and I always enjoy your honest, insightful posts on marriage too.

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  3. Thank you for sharing all these stages of marriage. This is very insightful! I need to go back and read the ones I've missed. I think we are in the Reunion stage, sort of. I'm guessing when you have a large family like ours that you will span more than one stage at a time. We have birds out of the nest, birds leaving the nest, some returning to the nest, and some little ones still in the nest. So, I don't know what stage that is! :) anyway, thanks for sharing your wisdom and for linking up to my Marriage Monday series! ~Elizabeth

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  4. Thanks for linking this up over at our blog. I really enjoyed reading it, and the way you added prayer, scripture study, repentance and forgiveness back in to it! I can't imagine how hard it would be with out Him!
    Thanks again!
    with love,
    -Jo

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