When it comes to your marriage, how can you tell if things are moving along the way they should be? Dr. Carol Lindquist is a therapist and author of the book Happily Married With Kids. And she says there are 5 stages every married couple goes through. Here’s what they are, so you can rest assured that the ups and downs you might be going through are very normal. We found this in Woman’s Day magazine.

  • Stage 1: The honeymoon phase. During this bonding period, couples overlook their differences, focus on what they have in common and have a fantasy that their partner “completes” them. This usually wears off after two years.
  • Stage 2: This is what Dr. Lindquist calls the “Who the heck have I married?” phase. This is the toughest of all 5 stages. You start to focus on your differences and try to “fix” each another. You hear yourself saying, “If I could just get them to do THIS, our marriage would be happy.” Some couples never get past this stage and it’s a popular time for divorce. To move to the next, happier phase, stop tallying each other’s flaws. Instead try to catch your partner doing something right.
  • The 3rd stage of marriage: This is the “Who am I and who do I want to be?” phase. Instead of looking at what you partner can do, you start looking at what you can change in yourself to make the marriage better and your life happier.
  • The 4th stage of marriage: The “friends again” or “truce” stage. You overlook or laugh at your spouse’s annoying habits, and genuine compromise occurs. You might feel more like good friends than passionate partners.
  • And the final stage of marriage: The “Bliss” phase. You feel like your partner truly knows you, loves you and accepts you for who you are. And they feel the same from you. You enjoy each other’s differences and feel anchored by your shared values. You become more passionate again, and it’s hard to imagine being married to anyone else.

So when you and your spouse find yourselves struggling - remember what you have to look forward too.