The First Two Stages in the Relationship Life Cycle
Understanding the Relationship Life Cycle – Part 1
How do you define marriage?
Hopefully you’ve taken a little time to put your thoughts about marriage down on paper. What’s interesting is that everyone’s idea and definition differs slightly. This difference can create major problems if not addressed as it compounds over 5, 10, 20 and sometime more years. Have you ever been shocked by a couple’s marriage that ended in divorce? You never would have imagined that this couple had issues. What’s more surprising is that the issues they found themselves in, started small and compounded into something great.
In your definition of a marriage, a shared term of “relationship” generally arises and what I’m about to share with you is a concept that I learned many years ago, but didn’t take to heart or I simply missed the concept altogether. So please don’t miss this.
Every relationship goes through cycles. In other words, the relationship starts over and over or repeats the cycle as long as you’re in a relationship. The key is to know and persevere through the cycles if you intend to have a relationship such as marriage, be successful, uncommon.
There’s a lot of information available about the relationship life cycle. I’ve seen that relationships have as few as three stages and as many as seven stages in a life cycle. In this lesson, we will review the four main stages to sum up this principle that a relationship develops in cycles. Using these four stages reveals that the life cycle has two main parts: 1) new love, and 2) love that’s matured. In each part, there are two stages. We will begin with “new love” and the first two stages in the relationship life cycle: infatuation and realization.
Stage 1 – Infatuation.
You won’t allow anyone to tell you anything about your significant other.
This statement should make you smile. You’ve been there. “There” being what my sister often refers to as “new love.” No one can stop or put a damper on how you feel about that special someone. [To the left.] If your momma says anything negative about this special person you then have problems with momma. Your mother who’s been with you and in your corner all your life can’t win when you find yourself in stage one of the relationship life cycle, infatuation.
When you’re in stage one, you won’t understand that this could be bad. You might find yourself with a loser and no one, not one single person on the planet can tell you different. In the infatuation stage, you won’t see the issues that everyone else can see. You are so taken by this girl or this guy that no one can help you see a truth you’re not seeing. Hence the reason people say that “love is blind.”
On the other hand, being infatuated with a spouse, not someone you’re dating or just getting to know, is good. In fact, one should be infatuated with the person they “plan” on spending the rest of their life with. Allow me to say something that hurts. This next statement is for those who are married and for those who need to know what it should be like when you are. You should be so infatuated with your spouse that you won’t listen to what others say about your spouse. In other words, when the two individuals seal the deal (marry) and become one, being infatuated with each other is key to guarding against others who try to erode the relationship. Let me say it this way with an example. If your friend comes to you and states they saw your spouse with someone else inappropriately, being infatuated should lead you to say that’s just not the case. True or not, it won’t matter. I know that’s hard to swallow and it should be because you’re planning for an uncommon marriage. You’re not just saying “I do” for the good time, you’re saying “I do” period. Use your infatuation to be fully committed to the person you’ve decided to do life with. Let’s continue.
You will do anything for your significant other with no complaints.
I wish I could cover all aspects of being infatuated, but we just don’t have time for that. However, this statement is important. When you are in the infatuation stage, there’s nothing too big or too small that you won’t do for your desired spouse. In most relationships this is one of the first acts that fade slowly away unnoticeably.
What’s interesting and how naturally do we, after some time, forget how stage one works. When we get beyond this stage, we forget that once there was nothing our special someone could ask of us that we’d not try with all our might to accommodate. While we’re here, it’s an awesome feeling to know that at least one person on earth is willing to climb Mount Everest on our behalf. Is there anything that you won’t do for your significant other? Next question, is there anything you won’t do without an attitude for your significant other? When you’re in “new love” stage one, you’re willing to go to the ends of the earth for that special someone. You will get up early, stay up later, go across town, or even get on a bus to visit another city. You will do whatever is necessary. This is what it means to be infatuated.
Stage 2 – Realization.
Let’s move on to stage two, realization. This is the stage that follows infatuation. This is still a part of “new love”. Realization simply means your infatuation is wearing off and your unique senses are starting to kick in. What I mean by your unique sense is this. The way you are wired will begin to show, although it never surfaced during the infatuation stage of “new love.”
You begin to evaluate your significant other with your own personal beliefs.
Let me interject this here, don’t worry about the passing of the cycles. They all come back around. The key is to figure out how to make the most of each cycle. You must learn how to seize life and make the most of each day as if it were God’s gift to you. Therefore, while you’re in stage two applying your own personal philosophies to your significant other, learn to appreciate their philosophies as you’d like them to see yours. And remember, your spouse wants you to see, feel, and believe the way he/she does. In stage two, you might begin to see what others have been saying about the one you love, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Love what you’re discovering and the things others have been saying. This is your spouse; enjoy your differences. It’s okay and it’s uncommon.
You begin to ask non-supportive questions and see flaws.
Have you ever asked these questions? Why are you doing that? What made you take that path? Relationship life cycle stage two, is the time you realize the fact that you and your significant other have differences. There are some areas where you’re just nothing alike. Maybe it’s in how you grew up, your family’s dynamics, your culture, or even your religious beliefs. There’s something about your significant other that contradicts what your fundamental thinking is. If you’re not careful, you’ll respond with non-supportive questions. Like why do you do that? Why is your family that way? Do all [enter demographic] act this way? Ordinary people use non-supportive responses. The “uncommon” use supportive-questions. Like that’s fascinating, can you tell me more? I’d like to get a better understanding and appreciation of your experiences.
Let’s briefly review. The relationship life cycle can be split into two pieces: 1) new love and 2) matured love. Each part consists of two stages and in this first lesson we’ve discussed the two “new love” stages: infatuation and realization. The goal in this exercise is to identify what these relationship life cycles look like and how we might do these in an uncommon way. If you desire to have an uncommon marriage, then you’ll need to have an uncommon “new love” experience.
Question: what have you and your special someone experienced during the “new love” stage of your relationship life cycle?
Reference #1: Ecclesiastes 9:7-10-7-10 MSG, Bible.com, accessed June 7, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/97/ECC.9.7-9.MSG
All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights.