So you are happy with your relationship huh? Good!
Now, spare yourself a minute and answer the question below before reading any further: What stage are you in your relationship?
What stage are you in your relationship as you read this?
If you’re not certain what stage you are right now or whether you are even in a relationship in the first place, the time cannot be more right than now to see your partner for some serious talk. You cannot afford to be wasting your time over a relationship that doesn’t exist let alone heading somewhere!
Some relationships at best are like a rocking chair. On the surface it looks as though the partners are making progress but a keener examination will reveal that they have merely been going back and forth on the same spot after donkey years of dating.
It is good to see relationships make progress from one stage to another until they reach consummation in marriage where a bigger task of keeping the bond of love ever burning begins. However, when partners cannot tell where they are in relationship, they are also likely not to know where they have passed through or where they are headed. Time resources and emotions would be wasted in such relationships. This is why it becomes necessary for you to understand where exactly it is you are in your relationship and where exactly the relationship is heading.
Below are five stages every relationship passes through. The time it takes may differ from person to person, what’s important is that every relationship headed for marital consummation passes through these stages at some point and partners need to know where they are and be conscious about the progress instead of assuming they would get married someday.
Guy Notices Babe: This is the official beginning of what could become a great love story or a romantic disaster. The guy sees something irresistible about the lady. This could be anything from her butter-smooth ebony skin to her flowing dark hair or tightly fitted gown that reveals her shapes and curves. It could even be her gentle voice, her nails or even the perfume she wears.
This is the stage of attraction as John Gray puts it in his 1997 book “Mars and Venus on a date” or the fantasy stage. There is something that caught the guy’s attention and awakens his fantasy of what romance should be. More often than none he makes the moves to explore this fantasy.
The Questioning Stage: At this stage the wave of attraction has waned. Attention is now shifted to weightier matters of character and personality initially overlooked. The guy starts asking questions like can she cook? Is she respectful, how does she relate with her brothers and other males.
The lady would ask questions like is he a good listener, is he caring, is he trustworthy, how is his relationship with other girls, can he stand all my “girl attitudes”, is he really handsome, is he smart, can I show him off to my friends. They will both ask themselves; can I spend a lifetime with him/her? All this couldn’t be seen when emotion was on the driver’s seat but they matter most now that a lifetime decision is about to be sealed.
There is a high chance for the relationship to end prematurely here if either of the partner can’t find satisfactory answers to these questions. Overcoming this stage successfully is the victory that serves as a reference point for tougher stages to come.
A New Dawn: The chaffs have been separated from the grain. The thought of marriage, even though it might have occurred at some point, makes more sense now. There is the feel of a new beginning between the partners. There is a strength resulting from the victory over the previous stages. It’s the stage of “after all we’ve been through together”, “after all the beautiful memories we’ve shared” and “after all we’ve done together”.
They find a new point of connection and things like seminars, shows, classes etc are done in “co” at this stage to further access compatibility and strengthen the bond of romance.
Taking what I call the “What Can Separate Us Test” at this stage will help the couple consolidate the strong bond they already share at this level.
The Engagement Stage: The partners know they have something definite to hold on to at this stage. This could be personal conviction resulting from some test conducted, an assurance from spiritual leaders/close friends/family or the partner’s level of commitment and dedication.
The man (traditionally), asks the lady to marry him, an art called proposal. Now, He wouldn’t do that if there was no mutual assurance between the both of them that they are the best for each other and marriage is the next step for their relation. There is a mutual agreement between the partners to get married.
All planning and preparation for the wedding and family life should be done in earnest at this stage. This stage used to be generally called the courtship stage when the line between “going out” and “engagement” was not as blurred as we have it today. Goals and ambition are harmonized, more intentionally this time.
Marriage: Many young people today mistake wedding for marriage in their thinking. Marriage begins officially as soon as the marriage rites are completed. However, it is a common practice to mark the end of marriage rites with ceremony and fanfare. In fact, it is this ceremony and fanfare that thrills the couples – especially the bride – the most as they serve to add colour to what goes down in memory as the happiest day in life for many.
Stage Six (Life as Married): As far as I am concerned, this is the most important stage of your relationship journey. Kids soon become part of the union and what used to be all about you; what you do and what you didn’t do gradually becomes all about making sacrifices for the well-being of kids and as though raising kids is not enough, all five stages above play out over and over again in different ways till death do you part.
Once again, what stage are you in your relationship now? It’s high time you find out where you are right now and chart the course for the next phase so that you don’t end up as a rocking chair, stuck in a relationship for years but heading nowhere.