We all want real, lasting, love. Yet, too many of us end up getting blown apart by the Divorce Bomb. True, some marriages should never have begun and some should end, but too many good marriages end up on the rocks because we have a faulty love map. Here I will give you some tools to get you started on the path to the relationship you’ve always wanted.
I had assumed that becoming a marriage counselor would not only help others, but would help me to find my true love and live happily ever after. I was dead wrong. After going through two marriages and two divorces, not much fun as most of you well know, I decided I had to figure out how to have a marriage that worked. I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams and Carlin and I have now been joyfully married for nearly forty years. The key to our success, and yours if you want to learn, was to understand the 5 Stages of Marriage and how to correctly read our love maps.
The 5 Stages are:
- Stage 1: Falling In Love
- Stage 2: Becoming a Couple and Building a Life Together
- Stage 3: Disillusionment
- Stage 4: Creating Real, Lasting Love
- Stage 5: Using the Power of Two to Change the World
Stage 1: Falling in Love
Falling in love is evolution’s trick to get humans to pick a mate and have kids so that our species carries on. It feels so wonderful because we are awash in hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen. Falling in love also feels great because we project all our hopes and dreams on our lover. We imagine that they will fulfill our desires, give us all the things we didn’t get as children, deliver on all the promises our earlier relationships failed to fulfill. We are sure we will remain in love forever. And because we are besotted with “love hormones,” we’re not aware of any of this.
Stage 2: Becoming a Couple and Building a Life Together
Many of us reach Stage 2 but continue to long for the crazy, hormonally driven, passionate love of stage 1. At this stage, our love deepens and we join together as a couple. This is a time when we have children and raise them. If we choose not to have children, it’s the time when our couple bond deepens and develops. It’s a time of togetherness and joy. We learn what the other person likes and we expand our individual lives to begin developing a life together.
In movies and fairy-tales, the next stage is “And they lived happily ever after.” But in real life, this is the time when disillusionment sets in and we question whether we should be together. We think we may have made a mistake. Some remain unhappily married. Some get a divorce. Few recognize that they have entered stage 3.
Stage 3: Disillusionment
This is the stage few people know about or understand. It’s where my first two marriages ended and where the majority of marriages fail today. However, it’s not the beginning of the end as most people fear, but the entrée to real, lasting, love. But take note: If you don’t have a proper love map and a guide to see you through, you may get lost.
It’s in the disillusionment stage that we undertake real soul work. It’s not for the faint of heart. It requires courage you never thought you had and I won’t lie to you, the journey can be frightening, but the rewards for those who take it are immense. In next week’s article I will give you the detailed map to get you through Stage 3, Disillusionment, but for now, let’s complete a description of the stages.
Stage 4: Creating Real, Lasting, Love
When Carlin and I hit Stage 3, we were prepared. As painful as the rights were and the loud silences, we never gave up on love. Instead of bailing out we went deeper. The benefits of Stage 4 are contained in the name. It’s real. It lasts. It is love like you never imagined it could be.
For the first time, we were able to see the other person as they really were, not the selfish projection of our unmet needs. We felt safe in a way we never had. We felt truly seen and accepted for who we were and we accepted ourselves as the flawed, yet glorious, human beings we all are.
And here is the bonus. We fell in love again. But it was much wilder, much crazier, much more joyful than the first time around.
Stage 5: Using the Power of Two to Change the World
Here’s a little mind experiment. What would the world be like if every couple had a proper love map and successfully navigated the five stages of love? I’ll bet it would be a more loving, kinder, world where we understood and respected our differences. I suspect the left and right wouldn’t be as rigidly separated and heads of state wouldn’t so easily lead their countries to war.
In practice, it means a couple feels so much gratitude for what they’ve been given, they want to do their part to create a better world for their children, grandchildren, and all people who share this beautiful planet. In the words of my colleague, Charles Eisenstein, we work together to create “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.”
If you liked this article, please share your comments below. In addition, I offer you my fifty years’ experience as a marriage counselor in my book The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why The Best is Still to Come.
Stay tuned for next week’s article on how to successfully get through Stage 3, Disillusionment.
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