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Marriage Counseling: Evolving Love
Marriage Counseling: Phases of Love
If you are looking for marriage counseling, you are probably experiencing some stress in your relationship. You might look back on the “honeymoon phase” of your relationship and wish you could go back to those days. Why can’t love stay the same? Is something wrong with your marriage if it seems like your love for each other has changed?
Today, you will learn more about the phases of love. You will also learn how this information can help you and your partner thrive, no matter your stage.
The Three Phases of Love
Your love for your partner will inevitably change. But this can be a good thing! It is normal and expected for your love to change and evolve as you experience things together. And understanding the stages of love can help you and your partner understand expectations for each other and how to make the most of your current phase of life.
Dr. John Gottman, a marriage and relationship researcher, has created three phases that are common experiences for couples when it comes to love (Source: The 3 Phases of Love).
The First Phase: Falling In Love
This is the stage of love that you might be familiar with in movies, books, songs, and tv shows. It might also be the phase you think about longingly when things get hard in your marriage. You probably experienced a rush of excitement, fun, and new emotions when you first met your partner.
This first phase serves a biological purpose; to bond you to your partner and create trust. This happens when you interact with your new partner, and your brain releases a variety of hormones and chemicals that tell you that this person is safe. This process also bonds you to your partner and attracts you to each other. (Related Article: Marriage Counseling- Why Waiting Can Hurt).
However, this phase might also make it hard for you to notice and address problems in your relationship, which can complicate the next phase of your relationship.
The Second Phase: Trust
This phase in your relationship is when the rubber hits the road. You spent time creating attractions and bonds in phase one, and this phase is where those bonds are tested. Gottman’s research shows that the first two years of your relationship are when the biggest arguments will probably occur. (Related Article: Marriage Counseling- The Anatomy of an Apology). These arguments are common in the second phase of your relationship. (Source: The 3 Phases of Love)
That is why there is such a big focus on communication when you decide to attend marriage counseling. You will spend a lot of time learning from your therapist how to improve your communication. As you improve those communication skills, then these arguments in this challenging relationship phase can be productive instead of harmful. (Related Article: How to Communicate Effectively).
The Third Phase: Commitment and Loyalty
This phase in your relationship will be all about building a foundation of fairness. And a lot of what you do in this phase boils down to nurturing. If you have a good relationship with effective communication, then you will spend time nurturing your love and connection with each other. However, if you have unresolved problems and unhealthy communication habits, you might start nurturing resentment and frustration in your marriage. (Related article: Common Marriage Problems- What To Do).
So, how can you make sure this phase is a positive one for your marriage? Gottman says that putting in the work to have “better” arguments in phase two can set the stage for a productive phase three. He also recommends keeping fairness in mind. The more fairness you have in your relationship, the more likely you will be to have a happy marriage and relationship for years to come. (Related Article: How to Fix Your Marriage Problems). This might look like making an effort to split the power in your relationship when it comes to decision making. Or it might look like taking the time to evenly divide household responsibilities. Either way, focusing on fairness can help you and your partner create a fulfilling bond.
Making the Most of Your Current Phase
Understanding the current phase of your marriage can help you and your spouse know where to begin improving things in your relationship. And if you need more guidance, a marriage counselor can help! Marriage counseling can give you and your spouse the skills you need to make the most of your current phase and set a firm foundation for your future as a couple.
Schedule marriage counseling with us today in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork.
Written by Lauren Adkins