Truth be told, even in the best of relationships, feelings change. It’s just a normal attribute of emotion. It is so normal that psychologists have noticed a near-universal pattern in the way lovers’ attitudes towards one another change.
There are basically Five distinct stages of love which every relationship and marriage pass through. Though most relationships and marriages end in stage 3, couples that can pass through this 3rd stage will sure enjoy that dream happy-ever-after kind of relationship.
Stage 1: Falling In Love Or Romance Stage:
During this stage, partners project their hopes and dreams of spending their life with one another. Each believes the other is their perfect soulmate who will provide them with pleasure and companionship for the rest of their lives. Partners who just came out from previous relationships will be wondering where on earth he/she was all these years. It feel so special!
Phone calls, text/whatsapp/bbm messages, dates, hangouts etc are regular. Couples are never tired of each other. Flaws are ignored at all times.
This is the “perfect love” that is projected in movies, novels and fantasies of our minds.
At this stage, hormones like oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin go wild, adding to the feelings of love.
Call it infatuation, you are not far from the truth.
Stage 2: Becoming Partners:
In this stage the infatuation characteristics is a bit reduced, little flaws are spotted but couples brush them aside.
While some enter into marriage, some others, especially younger couples formally engage their partners or do some pre-engagement. Married partners build their lives together, have kids, build house(s), buy lands or project a future. For the unmarried partners, they talk about marriage, fantasise about life together and work to strengthen each other.
In fact, couples become one, there is high sense of appreciation for each other and a strong sense of security. They wish it will last forever…But here comes the next ..
Stage 3: Disillusionment Or Power Struggle:
For most relationship and marriages, this is the beginning of the end.
Everything just seem to go wrong. Partners feel more insecure and unhappy with each other. The infatuation of stage 1 and illusion of stage 2 have both worn off. Partners begin to feel they made terrible mistake entering relationship with their other half. Partners fight and quarrel a lot over particular and most times tribal issues. To a partner one is not understanding, while to the other assume/conclude that his/her partner is disloyal.
Comparisons and statements pops up. Statements like, “I thought s/he was different, how foolish was I” “Tonye my ex wasn’t as problematic as this” “Obed was even better when we were together”/he isn’t worth it” “I’ve had enough and I am quitting” “Dele is even cuter and richer, I think I gotta dump this guy before he dumps me” “Chiamaka is even more beautiful and mannered than her” “wetin carry me join this short broke man” “no be say she even fine like that sef”.
This is a very delicate stage. This is the stage where some people cheat, some open up to accommodate friends of opposite gender to “get what they lack” in their partners. Some married people separates, while some divorce. Engagements and commitments of other yet-to-be married couples are broken.
Some couples breakup and makeup, breakup again, then makeup and continue the circle till they either move past the stage or break it completely.
For some others, they give each other space without breaking up, work on themselves, and decide whether to move past the stage or break it up to start afresh with the next guy or lady.
Basically, couples either breakup or survive in this stage. This stage is a “necessary evil” in all relationships and marriages.
To get past this stage, couples/partners will learn to try not to force or control the other into being who they thought they were, but instead accommodate the flaws and make healthy moves to influence their partners to be who they want them to be while working on themselves too to be that partner their spouse dreams about. Partners must appreciate each other, realising who they are and what they have(not materialism please).
I must admit that this is easier said than done, but we just can’t help it else our ex counts will be uncountable before we reach 60.
The irony of this stage is that partners that give it up enters into another relationship and goes through the same process over again.
I must warn/advice that people have to be careful not to engage in infidelity or a fall back relationship if they desire better deal as that will mess up the whole thing leaving them with guilt and inward shame/regret especially when the partner finds out(which he/she will definitely do).
Stage 4: Real Love/Commitment
For those that survived stage 3, they begin to enjoy real love. The married couple feel so comfortable with each other. They help each other heal wounds of stage 3, they realise how much they are in love with each other, become so bonded and will even lose an arm for the sake of their partners. For the married, the man will always protect his wife, the woman protects her home and family against “invaders”. They become each others bestfriend. This is the stage the unmarried are so convinced that they usually tie the knot with their sweethearts. At this stage, only death can come inbetween.
But partners must be careful as once in a while, stage 3 might raise its ugly head but the good news is that the bond of love and friendship between them will conquer any challenge or reincarnation of stage 3 as they have now got a common ground to handle disputes. This stage is also called Real Love stage.
Stage 5: Combining Forces To Change The World:
Some couples get stuck in stage 4 (which is fine) but some others move further. They combine the power of two to do one thing together. It could range from being counselors engaging in community service, promoting a cause like Bill and Melinda Gate, book writing, politics like the Jonathans and the Obamas, entertainment like Olu Jacob and Joke Silva etc.
Their love is admired by all and their works affect the community. They improve each other as individuals and couples. Wow!
Everybody and every couple can achieve this ultimate stage of love as seen in stages 4 and 5. We have the responsibility of prioritising the kind of man or woman we want to end up with by factoring traits such as characters, habits, orientation, norms, faith etc of the would-be partners.
I have to state that no matter how you may try, a serial cheat, sex maniac chronic liar, physical abusers, selfish and greedy individual, heavy drunk etc will NEVER give that ideal love to you, at best you will be stuck in stage 3 till you either accept your fate and live miserably ever after and “take it to the Lord in prayer” or you get worn out and move on with the hurt, except you are comfortable with such traits and habits.