Does this mean that children are hard on marriages.
While most parents are loathe to acknowledge it, the painful truth is that children require a lot of energy as do jobs and careers.
Just as children go through normal, predictable stages of development, so do relationships.
And just as it is helpful for parents to understand their children by understanding the phases of development, so it is helpful for couples to know the stages of relationships, know which one they are in and thereby see what is happening from a perspective of intelligence and wisdom.
These are the couples who create the famous "U" on the marriage satisfaction charts. Some look at these statistics and say there is something wrong with marriage.
I believe that the problem is not with marriage, but with our understanding of marriage, what it is, what is trying to happen and what to do about it.
Where a partner once wanted to spend lots of time and energy in the relationship (very different than the parents who were always too busy); now the partner is quiet, pre-occupied, unavailable (very much like the family of origin).
Where a husband or wife was, in the Romantic Phase, kind and respectful and listening; now in the Power Struggle Phase, he or she becomes impatient, authoritative, unresponsive -- again somehow familiar from childhood or teen experiences. At some point there is often the panicky thought, "What have I done? " Or it could be Dad or grandparent or older brother or sister, or step-parent or minister, etc -- the ones I've had trouble with".
I value differences and believe differences should be acknowledged and respected! I tend to see this enchantment stage as a little be of grace in nature.Since they do not know what to do when that happens, they move back into the Parallel Relationship.The good news for these couples is that in the latter years of their marriage, usually after the children are in college or remarried, there tends to be a period of rapprochement.Someone concludes that they have made a selection error, they feel the despair of the Power Struggle and decide to end the relationship.76% of them will try again, hopefully making a better choice. Up to 90% of the couples who stay together report their marriages as "unsatisfactory" but choose to stay together for a variety of reasons, ranging from religious values, family values, wanting to keep the family together, financial stressors, etc.There is truly something wonderful about this first phase of being in love.In the "enchantment" phase there is a lot of laughter, playfulness, affection and sexual energy.How long the romantic stage lasts seems to depend on how much time the couple spends with each other and the amount of "woundedness" or "baggage" the individuals bring to the relationship.But eventually, for virtually all couples, the enchantment phase ends, the drugs wear off and are no longer secreted, the negative traits emerge with a greater impact, wounds and protections from childhood start being activated and the relationship moves into the "Power Struggle".Intimate, committed relationships will go through a period that requires work and healing.We need to start seeing this as normal and desirable, not an indicator of a bad relationship.