For a relationship to culminate in a successful and committed long-term union, a five-step relationship-building process must be recognised, understood and completed.
The five steps necessary for a long-term relationship
The path to a new and committed long-term relationship goes through five separate steps in relationship building: (1) Step 1: The Transitional Relationship, (2) Step 2: The Recreational Relationship, (3) Step 3: The prior commitment Relationship, (4) Step 4: The Committed Relationship, and (5) Step 5: The Marital Relationship. (For a discussion of recreational, pre-committed, and committed relationships, see David Steele, conscious quotes(Campbell, CA, RCN Press, 2008).
This article addresses the fifth and final step in the relationship building process, Step 5: The Marital Relationship.
The marriage relationship is the time to Change!
What?! Isn’t this the time when things settle down and you can finally relax and enjoy some stability?
Well yes and no. It is true that you no longer have to struggle with the uncertainty of finding a partner with whom you have chemistry and who also meets your requirements. However, choose your favorite bumper sticker: “Nothing stays the same.” “Change is the only constant.” “Men get married hoping their partner won’t change, but they do. Women get married expecting their partner to change, but they don’t.”
However you look at it, getting married is not a promise of boring and monotonous predictability. Successful marriages not only endure, but invite and enjoy, change into each other.
A marital relationship it is one that has matured to the point of formalizing it with public vows of commitment. The attention now shifts to both parties allowing and encouraging each other to grow, develop and change to fulfill each person’s vision and life purpose.
Goal and the motivating question. The goal of a marital relationship is to keep the relationship alive by fostering growth and development. The driving question behind this relationship is: “How can WE help each other meet our staff Dreams?”
The roles that you and your partner play. You are expected to be a husband/wife and an encourager in your partner’s efforts to “be all you can be.”
the nature of a committed relationship. A common misconception is that getting married is like crossing the finish line in a marathon, requiring no further action. The “marathon” part is correct, however, the “finish line” image couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, now you’re standing on the starting line of a “super marathon” of a lifetime and a whole new part of your thinking will be challenged.
The common belief is that when we get married, who we are at that moment is frozen, like a marble sculpture. We no longer can or need to change our shape, size, beliefs, dreams or vision. A more appropriate image for the wedding ceremony is not that of a marble statue, but rather that of a sculpture made of Silly Putty. While we may look like a marble statue when we say “I do,” our actual shape, size, beliefs, dreams, or vision can, and inevitably will, be shaped and altered over and over again to our personal specifications as it progresses. our life. .
The back doors of a marriage relationship
The “back doors” are ways that allow “escape” from the relationship.
In proportion to the increased commitment that marriage brings, the difficulty of ending the relationship is also high. Not only is an extraordinarily strong social/psychological contract involved in a marriage, but a legal contract is also created. As you well know, not only is the financial cost of divorce significant, but also the emotional pain is deep and wide-ranging. The effect is to force us to do everything possible to avoid a breakup and to use divorce only as a last resort.
Potential problems in a marital relationship
The marriage relationship requires the two partners to help each other grow and develop. But what if they can’t or won’t do this? The relationship suffers and failure, read “divorce”, is possible.
Among the most common ways we fail at the marriage step are:
(1) Taking the relationship for granted and expecting the other partner to do all the work,
(2) Try to do all the work yourself and exclude your partner,
(3) Treat a “want” as a “requirement”,
(4) Not being willing to compromise,
(5) Refusing to learn and use the problem-solving and conflict-management skills necessary to make any committed relationship work,
(6) Refusing to accept change in your spouse as not only acceptable, but desirable, while pursuing your life purpose,
(7) Believing that the person you are when you get married is the “end product” that needs no further modification or adjustment for the rest of your life, and
(8) Believing in love means that your partner must accept you forever, just as you were when you got married, no matter what.
(9) Not completing the previous four steps in the relationship building process, especially Step 3: The Pre-Committed Relationship
So what is the point?
Don’t be complacent about the apparent “purpose” of “getting married.” Do not hesitate, your work is not done.
Not only are you capable of change, but the very essence of a successful marriage demands that you change. Your challenge is twofold: Can you make the changes you need to make to fulfill your life vision and purpose? And can you support, even encourage, your partner to do the same?
What stands in your way? Lurking in the shadows is the ever-present Resistance to Change! Therefore, your ultimate challenge is to break down that resistance so that your marriage has the sustenance it needs to grow and flourish.
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