Every marriage changes as the years pass. You’re not the same person at 50 that you were at 30. You and your spouse both change as time goes by, and as you do, your needs and priorities also change. You’ll face many different challenges together as your marriage grows,from having kids or changing careers to moving home and retirement.
Each stage of marriage comes with its own pressures and challenges. If you want to keep your marriage strong through every new challenge, check out our tips for handling the pressures of different stages of marriage.
The Honeymoon Phase
The honeymoon phase happens just after your wedding and honeymoon, when you’re settling into your new life together as a married couple. There’s a lot to appreciate about this stage. Starting a new life together is exciting and you’ll most likely still be very physically close. There’s still a celebratory vibe in the air from the wedding.
The main challenge of this stage is settling into the mundane. As the first flush of romance fades you’ll realize there are bills to pay and your partner will definitely not always be the romantic hero or heroine of your wedding day.
Tip: Tackle the everyday aspects of life together. Make setting up your household and dealing with the mundane details of life a shared project that you derive satisfaction from. And don’t forget to keep making regular time for fun and togetherness on a daily basis.
The Realization Phase
The realities that started to hit during the end of the honeymoon phase really make their presence known during the realization phase. This is where you realize that your partner has habits that irritate you, or that their approach to some aspects of life is wildly different from your own.
For some couples the realization phase can be quite turbulent as you both settle into being married and figure out who you are within your relationship. It’s normal to get scared and worry that things won’t work out, but in fact this is just a growing phase and you can use it to build a strong foundation for the future.
Tip: Keeping a sense of humor helps a lot in this phase. No, your partner isn’t perfect (and they’re discovering that you aren’t either) but they’re still the person you fell in love with. This phase is where you really learn about how to compromise and find a way forward that suits both of you. Remember you’re a team — your partner is not your opponent, and neither of you is ought to win. This is a good time to learn about open, respectful communication.
The Busy Phase
The busy phase usually starts in your thirties and can carry on till your mid forties or even fifties. This is the phase in a marriage where lots of other things come up that demand your attention. These frequently include having and raising children, career growth, career changes, and relocation. You might also face illness or financial problems.
All these things take up a lot of time and energy, and if you and your partner aren’t pulling together as a team it’s easy to start resenting each other. If you get too caught up in other things your marriage will take a back seat, which makes it hard for your relationship to thrive.
Tip: Make your marriage a priority no matter what else is going on. Take time to check in with each other every day. Set aside a date night or afternoon once a week for you to spend uninterrupted time together, and treat that as seriously as you would treat a vital business meeting. In other words — it’s not negotiable! Listen to each other’s worries and concerns and support each other through the challenges life brings.
The Mid Life Crisis
Many couples hit a rough spot around their fifties. The kids are older, but work pressure is often still rife, and the thought of retirement on the horizon can be both comforting and terrifying.
During this phase you might feel like life is passing you by and you start worrying about whether you’ve made the wrong decision with your marriage. This is especially tough for people with single friends who are going out and having fun. Some people get a bad case of the grass is always greener syndrome and wonder if they should start looking elsewhere for love and satisfaction.
Tip: Now is a great time to rekindle your relationship. Instead of suffering in silence or being tempted to look elsewhere, make time to reconnect with your partner. Inject some new life into your marriage by trying out some new things. Take a class, go on a trip, or start a new healthy habit. Look for and appreciate all the things you love about your partner, and work on your communication. Remember the grass is very rarely greener on the other side — it’s time to ditch the comparison habit.
Resolution and Renewal
By the time you both reach your fifties or sixties, you’ve weathered many of life’s storms together. The kids have long since left home and most likely you’re both looking towards retirement. This is the stage when everything you’ve learned and worked on in the previous stages comes together and, with care and attention, gives your marriage the strength it needs to sail through your golden years with ease.
Tip: Never stop exploring and having fun. Keep trying new things and enjoying hobbies and days out together. Keep talking openly and honestly and enjoy the comfort and solidity that comes from knowing someone so well for so long.
Marriage is a journey, and like any journey it passes through different places. Use these tips as a road map to help you navigate every stage and come out of it stronger and happier than ever.