Most people don't realize this, but there are actually five stages to every relationship. These five stages mark a particular cornerstone in a relationship, and understanding them can mean a world of difference when trying to maintain that relationship.
The Happy Stage/Romantic Stage
This stage can last two months or up to two years. Every couple is different. In this stage, the new couple ignores the faults of the other person, while romancing them as much as possible. This relationship stage is one of total bliss. Old married couples sneer at couples in this stage, and tell them that it won't last. A hallmark of the relationship stage is the way the new couple is rarely separated, choosing to do all things together.
The Struggle for Individuality Stage
After the romance stage, couples move into the struggle for their individuality stage. Basically, it can be described as a power struggle. Couples fight about old wounds, and boundaries about expected behaviors are set. While some couples break up or divorce in this stage, it is an essential relationship stage. Couples learn how to fight fairly, and how to recapture their independence, as well as nurture their relationships at the same time.
Acceptance Stage/ Stability Stage
In this relationship stage, the couple has managed to weather the storm. They've learned how to fight and accept that their partner is an individual, with separate needs and goals. The danger in this relationship stage is that the couple can grow apart, each seeking their own gratifications, while taking their partner for granted. It's important that couples in this stage stay connected.
The Commitment Stage
In this stage of a relationship, both partners are ready to commit fully to one another. They both know and understand the faults of the other, and accept them for what they are. Both people in this phase of their relationship realize that being together isn't a need, but a want. They know that they are stronger and happier together, than apart.
This relationship stage marks the true beginning of 'us.' Together you face the world united. This is the stage where a couple may decide to open their own business together, or take a risk that will affect both of their lives. In this relationship stage, it's important that you both make time for each other, so that what you've built together doesn't stagnate and fall apart.
Couples often move back and forth through the different stages of a relationship. Knowing and understanding which stage you are currently living in, can help you to move more smoothly through the current stage of your relationship, into the next.