Chapter 1 - Love, Romance and Reality

Stages of relationships

Other writers describe these stages differently or in more detail – for example:

You start off as an individual.



During the romance stage, you emphasise all the things you have in common. 'Wow, we even like the same songs and the same football team; it must be love!' This lasts between 15 months and 3 years in most marriages (or a few weeks in a second marriage).

Usually one partner begins to feel a little suffocated by all this closeness, and tries to establish some personal space and boundaries in the relationship. ('Do we have to spend every evening together?') The other partner feels hollow and unloved, and so starts to chase. This can make the first partner feel even more trapped, and make them over-react and push the other away. This is where a lot of relationships break down, especially without formal marriage ties. Some people have a habit of quitting at this stage, jumping back to the romance stage again with someone else.

During this stage partners start to think practically and work out an arrangement that works for both of them. This takes discipline and maturity, which is why so many couples spin out at this stage and have an affair or disappear into their work – but that's the easy way out, not a real solution. This stage can last 5-15 years, depending on how well partners can negotiate.

The partners realise that they are mature enough to live independently, but they actually like each other and want (rather than desperately need) each other. They start to make it fun.

This is like eating dessert. The partners have their stuff together. They work like a great basketball team, each of whose members knows each other's moves, and yet they keep growing and surprising each other. They are comfortable, but not bored and passionless. They have a lot to give to the family, the community etc.