We celebrated 14 years of marriage this month. In the scheme of things it may not seem like an awfully long time, but for a couple that met and married within 3 months, that too, in their early 20’s – is nothing short of a miracle. The 14 year journey has been incredible, and we attempt each year to take stock of it all. It is therapeutic to reflect back in time, reviewing our timeline, accomplishments, our kids and mostly our evolution as an individual. We are certainly not the same person we were 14 years ago.
So the anniversary got me thinking about relationships and marriages, which led to discussions with friends/colleagues on the very same subject – leaving me no choice but to Blog 😉
Relationships at the core are all similar, everyone encounters the same types of problems – finances, career satisfaction, raising kids, sharing household chores, misunderstandings, jealously, intimacy, over protectiveness, snoring… (The list is endless, need I add more? I’m sure you got the picture.
There are always going to be differences, because the reality is that we never get attracted to our mirror image – that would be so ridiculously boring. What makes relationships unique is how each couple address the issues encountered along the way.
I think all this discussion must’ve really stirred up some currents in my brain because for some bizarre reason I started analysing marriage/relationships against a team development sequence model created by psychologist Bruce Tuckman back in 1965, which I learned during my MBA. The model identifies stages of development for a team leading it to achieving unified goals through high performance.
Now if you stop for a moment and think about marriage – it boils down to team work, common objectives and performance, doesn’t it? Teamwork is at the centre of a relationship, because there is no such thing as a fairytale, consistently agreeable, always loving, relationship. Wake up folks – that fairytale love story with Princess and Prince Charming does not exist! Successful marriages requires continuous work.
So, coming back to my interesting model, the famous stages documented by Bruce Tuckman was “Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing”. And here is my crazy attempt to align it with marriage:
Stage 1 – Forming: I’m calling this the Lovey-Dovey phase where couples are excited about the life ahead, extra polite and caring towards each other. Learning something new about their better half, enjoying each others company. It is the stage where couples are open to entertaining possibilities of the words ‘compromise’ and ‘accommodate’.
Stage 2 – Storming: The honeymoon, Lovey-Dovey phase ends. Now this is there stage where the storms, hurricanes and tornadoes cause havoc. Couples are pushing against the boundaries, resulting in conflicts due to their differing personalities, styles and approach. Storms are inevitable, its how you manoeuvre through them that matters. This is the stage where most relationships either make it or break it! It may seem easy to walk out of a relationship at this point, but remember, that you will eventually have to follow the same pattern all over again with another person – so if it didn’t work out the first time, then what makes you think it will be different with someone else?
Stage 3 – Norming: This is the stage where couples get to know each other from the core, start to understand and successfully resolve their differences, appreciate each others strengths by developing mutual respect. This leads to them defining their objectives and commitment to a unified goal. This is an interesting phase, while couples achieve normalisation, there is a risk of regressing back to storming phase if new variables are introduced in the marriage, for examples, a baby, or mid life crisis or menopause! So what I am trying to articulate, perhaps not so elegantly, is that there needs to be commitment to fix issues, to take your marriage from a storm towards normalisation and subsequently to performing – as a team.
Stage 4 – Performing: The ideal stage which I like to call “auto-drive”. This is the stage where couples are so in tune that you finish each others sentences, pre-empt each others needs, collaborate to achieving your family goals. This stage is comfortable, but don’t think its permanent, because remember the fact that fairytale marriages don’t exist? Yep. So while you may be performing at times, this model is circular and will keep taking you back in motion to the previous phases, depending on the challenges that come your way and the circumstances you are in.
Couples should understand that it is arduous teamwork and commitment that develops successful relationships.
As long as you are married to a good human being with a strong moral compass – make every effort to keep the love & respect growing.
Who said commitment was easy? 😉
© as|fa 2015