Sunday, January 31, 2016

Proposal and Some New Marriage Stages

Today is January 31, the day Ken proposed! A few years ago I posted our proposal story. It's our own holiday, better than Valentine's Day. But just a little better, since now we had our Adah Marie on Valentine's Day!

I'd like to take a minute to yack about the four stages of marriage. I've recently been informed by Experts that all marriages, all of them without exception, go through four stages: romance, disillusionment, misery, and reawakening. I read from here to Ken and after he clapped his jaw shut from the dropping shock, we were sad and angry.

These sorts of articles should read "many" marriages. Or even "most" if it makes them feel better, but certainly not "all." I propose a different set of four stages, a set without disillusionment and misery as official stages lasting years and years (of course there may be short times of feeling this way). I am not going to preach about why I think ours has gone better because it will engender some problems: one, there will be some who did what we did and didn't do what we didn't do who had a different outcome; and two, there will be some who have not done things our way and also find that these stages are foreign to their own experience. For the record, we are in our 26th year of marriage.

Honeymoon stage. This should not be called "romance" as if you only get romance in the first few years. Here is the beginning of intimacy and life together when all is fresh and wonderful and new. When being near each other still makes the heart pound and you're sure that everyone is jealous of you.

Settled stage. Yup, there are weird things going on. There are socks here and there, annoying habits, and sleepless nights with babies and toddlers. So what? Why be disillusioned? People are people and we all have talents and troubles. We all have moments when we shine and moments when we're dull. We know this. Time to settle in, make love through it all, and continue to do what you like together (hiking, skating, movies, coffees, whatever). There's so much to talk about and learn, especially if there are children doing weird things, too.

Comfort stage. Satisfied, secure, and still sexy. Middle age is here and it's good. Ditto the settled stage for making love and doing things together.

Still hiking. He talked me into liking dogs.
Deep stage. Twenty-five years and beyond.  Deep, settled, comfortable romance full of joy. Together dealing with whatever our 50's, 60's, and beyond bring. All the years give rise to this place.

At each stage we should be intimate and talking and doing things together ~ interests we share and things we've introduced to each other and are learning. There will be sadness and shock, heartbreak and horror. These are times to cling to each other; after all, we made solemn vows.

I am glad to know that there are therapists and organizations helping marriages come through terrible times. I know couples whose weld is better than if it had not broken.

And yes, there are marriages that go on through the years getting deeper, stronger, and better without teetering on the brink. If you read articles and wonder when the years of disillusionment and misery will descend, be assured that they may not. You are not shallow juveniles stuck in the honeymoon stage (as was suggested to me when I balked at the other stages).

Happy Proposal to us!
Happy marriages to my friends!
And please, Experts, change your opening paragraphs to read "most."

Love, Allison

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