There have been several posts about marriage and nurturing your partner on this blog that you can search and see for background regarding marriage, attachment parenting, and homeschooling. Here is one that comes to mind: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/08/parenting-as-partners/ as well as this one: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/17/using-your-first-year-of-parenting-to-fall-deeper-in-love-with-your-spouse/
This is a topic I feel is so important because unfortunately, many of the homeschooling mothers I know appear to feel overwhelmed, seem to feel unsatisfied with their partner’s contribution to family life, and just are not enjoying time with their partner/spouse because they feel their basic needs are not being met within their closest relationships.
Maybe Betty Staley can help us unravel some of the mysteries surrounding the life cycle of a relationship.
She writes, “Just as each individual passes through cycles, so does a relationship. During each stage of a relationship we have particular needs and ways of solving problems. There are three basic elements to consider when we speak about relationship-stages. First, the individuality of each person. Second, the phase of life each person is in. Third, the stage the relationship has reached. In addition to these three aspects, cultural and historical expectations and the environment are also strong influences.”
The stages of relationships per Tapestries:
- The first stage of a relationship is when two people are attracted to one another, “they are in a soul stage where feeling life predominates (21-28 years) no matter how old they are.” (page 75).
- After the relationship settle down to routine, the couple enters the soul phase where THINKING predominates (28-35 years, but again it does not matter how old the people in the relationship are). Each person looks at the other more objectively, and each may question the relationship itself. This can be a point where many relationships fall apart and break up.
- If the couple survives this phase, the next phase is the soul phase where CONSCIOUSNESS or AWARENESS predominates (corresponding to the ages 35-42, but remember, it does not matter how old the people in the relationship are), where each individual in the relationship begins to look at themselves and their partners more objectively. During this time, hopefully each person can have not only a sense of realism about their partner’s strengths and weaknesses, but also love their partner with some of the passion from the feeling stage and see the person’s high self.
Betty Staley points out on page 76 that if a couple is older than their twenties when the relationship begins, the earlier phases representing the twenties will be passed through quickly to get to the stage of life the couple is in.
In other words, if a couple’s relationship starts when they are 35, the relationship will pass quickly through the feeling stage and the soul phase where thinking predominates to the soul phase where consciousness or awareness predominates.
She talks about couples where there is an age difference and how each person in the relationship will demonstrate not only aspects of the seven-year cycle they are in, but also aspects of the seven-year cycles their partner is in. She discusses that the combination of having two partners from two different age groups can bring support into the relationship as whoever is older and in the next seven-year cycle can provide better patience, understanding, (depending upon the maturity of the person, of course).
If you are a couple where both of you are in the same seven-year cycle, this can be a source of unity and support because you are going through the same things (although I would add here that I think men and women often experience different intensifications of aspects of the same seven year cycle, so it may not be exactly the same), but it can also be difficult because neither person can step outside the relationship and look at it from a broader perspective, and neither may have completely developed greater understanding or patience.
My husband and I have been married for almost 17 years and we were both in our early twenties (I was 21) when we married. I truly believe that at least from my personal experience and from watching the couples around us that these cycles of a relationship are dead-on.
Of course, the trick is to survive the stages! Can you identify where your relationship is according to Tapestries?
Understanding where you and your partner are in relationship to the seven year cycles throughout the lifespan on top of understanding the cycles of a relationship can be of great help….
We will look at a summary of each of the seven year phases for the adult in our next post.
Thanks for reading,