Recently, my wife, Melissa, and I were going through our wedding album. As we sat in front of the fireplace and looked at the photos of ourselves as 23-year-olds, we caught our breath.
Who are those kids? we wondered. And what on earth were they doing?
We spent the next hour going through the wedding photos with lots of laughs and pleasant memories. When we were done, we felt glad that after 41 years we're still together to share such a moment. We're keenly aware of how unusual that's getting to be.
Melissa and I work with couples, many of whom have trouble remembering what brought them together and what happened to their joy. How did the magic go out of the romance?
If you stop to think about it (which most couples don't), it's not surprising that newlyweds begin to drift apart. Throughout life, we move through phases. These phases call for continual reassessment and renegotiating to the marriage "contract" we made when we first got married.
One of the most common issues that slowly erodes our marital foundation is the inevitable change that accompanies aging. I'd say "maturing," but that's optional. Aging isn't. When most couples exchange their vows, that commitment to being married with all the rights and privileges is foremost in their minds. They've had some form of courtship, are seeing what they want to see in each other, and truly expect to live happily ever after.
But after the honeymoon bliss, a marriage begins to move through the following phases: