At this stage you are excited, driven and motivated primarily based on your senses. It is the euphoric feeling that comes when experiencing something new. The reality is that this feeling is short lived. Examples include getting a new car, new job, new church or getting into a new relationship. This is the butterfly in your stomach stage. It is the “I can’t get enough of him or her” stage. It is the people- pleasing stage. You feel so good about the relationship and your emotional love tank is full. Based on the emotional excitement in this stage most people are quick to set unrealistic expectation for marriage. They believe that the person in their current relationship is the one to satisfy all needs and wants. Hence, they build their marriage with the expectation that it is their spouse’s responsibility to make them happy. They put all their trust and hope in each other’s ability to meet their needs, wants and desires. No marriage that is built primarily on this stage will survive. In fact the average life span of this phase is 2 years. Neither you nor your marital relationship can manifest God’s fullness if you don’t move beyond this stage. In other words, you need to mature beyond this point in your relationship to be able to experience God’s plan for marriage. The Apostle Paul, relating infancy to maturity, explains that for an heir to inherent anything he must become of a mature age. For you to experience a rewarding marriage you must mature into the commitment phase. Galatians 4:1-4
At this stage you go beyond the infatuation stage and to the adjustment stage. Differences starts to surface, conflicts starts to arise and the people-pleasing phase ends. In other words, you meet the real person. Conflict resolution, working through differences, compromise and sacrifice are characteristics of this stage. You start to see habits in each other that you question. You ask yourself if this is the right person for you. This stage is experienced both in courtship (usually short lived), early stages of marriage and is driven primarily by convenience. If it is convenient for you, you commit; if not you don’t. In courtship, people want the benefits of courtship and the flexibility of being unattached. In marriage, couples want the benefits of marriage with the convenience of being single. In both cases, commitment is driven by convenience. You see this type of commitment with the children of Israel in the wilderness. They followed Moses but lacked the vision to see beyond the inconvenience of the wilderness. At a point they wanted to go back to Egypt because they missed the cucumbers. This happens quite often in today’s marriages, as married couples lack the will and commitment to enjoy marriage. Isaiah put it this way.
If you are willing (in Marriage) and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land. (Isaiah 1:19)
In some cases your commitment is based on your ability to change your spouse. Your commitment and dedication is dependent on your primary focus is to change your spouse. The more your spouse changes, the more you feel a sense of commitment. In other cases, commitment is fueled by potential. Once you see, sense, feel or perceive a better potential than your current spouse; you jump ship. You sometimes go the extra mile to get things done, however this type of commitment is not sustainable for a fulfilling marriage as it lacks the depth/strength to build a lasting marriage.
At this stage you feel your life is being controlled. You feel things have to be done in a certain way (usually your way) and you tend to challenge it if you can’t make sense of it. At this stage, identity crisis comes into play. You struggle not to lose yourself in the relationship or marriage. People who experience this stage in courtship typically end the relationship. They say things like “he was too controlling”, “I was losing myself in that relationship”. While it is good to challenge things, when it comes to marriage the “I” is replaced by “we”. At this stage the battle is between what I want to do (self) and what we have to do (marriage). In other words, stop trying to be the man or woman you want to be and start learning to become the husband or wife God desires you to be. You have to die to self for you to have a fulfilling marriage. Jesus put it this way
The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone… (John 12:23-24)
At this stage you finally understand that you don’t have all the answers and realize your mistakes and recommit. You have come to an understanding that you cannot change your spouse and that we are only made perfect in Christ Jesus. You celebrate your differences, focus on each other’s strengths and reiterate the purpose of your union to each other. You have moved to the God kind of love (Agape) and you go beyond professing your love to acting out your love. At this stage you are committing to someone when they least deserve it. You finally say, it’s not my will but your will Lord; you see this type of commitment between Elijah and Elisha, between Ruth and Naomi. Sad to say, most people don’t get to experience this phase in marriage. They don’t commit long enough in their marriage to enjoy the fruits of this stage. However, a clear vision and purpose for marriage will not only help you arrive early at this stage, it will keep you at this stage. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
In whatever stage you find yourself, the goal in marital relationship is to get to the recommitment stage. Understand that marriage is a journey and not a destination and it is essential that you are well prepared for the marriage journey. Vision for marriage will help guide you in marriage. It will help you look beyond the now (emotions and feelings) and focus on commitment to the marriage convent. Habakkuk put it this way
And the Lord answered me, and said, write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he (your wife and children) may run when they read it. (Habakkuk 2:2)
Understand that it takes commitment to make marriage successful and not just the euphoric feeling of love. Committed people separate feelings and emotions from their responsibility. Love is committing to someone when they least deserve it. As always, understand that marriage is a journey not a destination and it gets better over time if the governing principles are in place.
Love Always ~ T.E