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Monday, January 30, 2012

Stages Toward Marriage ...

Research has indicated that there are five stages in a relationship leading to marriage. A healthy courtship can be a good preview of a happy and fulfilling marital relationship. The courtship needs between 12 months and two years to move through the stages. A relationship that moves too quickly toward marriage may pass over one or more stages of bonding.

Attraction. Most often, a man is attracted to a woman through her appearance. Also, he needs to feel that she needs him. The case may be quite different for a woman. She needs to feel comfortable with him. She feels that she can talk to him and he understands her.

The attraction needs to be tested over time through a variety of circumstances in life. Unfortunately, some couples go from attraction to engagement without the experience of three more important stages. Maybe a couple believes their relationship is "love at first sight." The danger is projecting on the other person, who we want them to be, rather than who they really are.

Doubt. This is a normal part of a good relationship. Better to doubt before the marriage than after. A relationship needs to be tested. Doubt should not cause panic. Doubt does not mean that true love is absent. Doubt asks a very important question: Is this the person I want to live with for a lifetime?

When one person in a relationship has doubts, the other person may panic, feeling rejection. This is not always really the case. The person who doubts the relationship may be taking it seriously but needs to be sure. Most bonds of true love are sincerely doubted at some point. Being vulnerable to another person in a genuine, loving relationship can be uncomfortable at times. This can cause doubt.

Exclusiveness. This is a time when both persons agree not to date others. Jealousy could become an issue at this stage. However, when both persons agree that they don't want to date others, the relationship has moved into the third stage.

Jealousy may be healthy or unhealthy. Exclusiveness involves trust, loyalty, and faithfulness. Anything that threatens this type of relationship will cause a healthy jealousy. However, unhealthy jealousy tries to control the other person. This type of jealousy comes from low self-esteem, insecurity, or fear of losing the relationship.

Intimacy. The couple becomes more transparent in conversations. An emotional bond is developing. It becomes a heart-to-heart relationship, sharing innermost thoughts, desires, and emotions. They really know each other and feel safe to be themselves.

Intimacy requires a willingness to be vulnerable to the other person. Being vulnerable means that we know that the other person could hurt us. Therefore, intimacy requires trust. He becomes her "safe place." His heart safely trusts in her. This is the bond that assures a satisfying relationship.

Engagement. The couple announces their intention to be married. It is an adjustment stage within family relationships. There is a need for family acceptance and approval. Two persons are preparing to marry each other, but remember, they are also marrying into each other's family. New relationships are being formed with other members of both families of origin. It takes time to develop those relationships.

All the best to those in process toward marriage.

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