Are you and your spouse struggling to see eye-to-eye and you want to save your relationship? Learning the three stages of marriage can help you realize which stage you are in, and identify hurdles you’ll need to overcome to get to the last stage (real love).

You might be wishing you never fell in love in the first place because then it wouldn’t be so painful to have marriage problems. Unfortunately, you have to go through the relationship stages in order in order to come out on the other side!

What are the Stages of a Relationship?

The first stage of marriage is Romantic Love, then the second is Power Struggle, and then finally, the third is Real Love. Understanding the relationship stages will help you save a marriage.

Most couples don’t make it through the Power Struggle. But if you can stick out the power struggle stage and learn from it, you’ll come out the other side into the best stage of all: Real Love.

It’s normal to have relationship problems and disagreements. Here’s why.

Working through relationship problems begins with understanding how and why you fell in love. Without the mystery of attraction, you would never get married. Most likely, you would scrutinize the other person to no end. Unless you had no say in the matter of spouse selection or are extremely logical and emotionless, some form of attraction, not necessarily physical, must be present.

We have to “fall in love” so that we can be blinded by all of the reasons we should not get married. (While some of these terms have been abused by society, I preferred to view them as a feeling of connection that draws us to another person or a “click.”) How else could you commit to spending the rest of your life with someone you barely know?

Know this. You are specifically drawn to your partner,  because you have a purpose, to become more whole and complete people. (We talk a lot more about the purpose of marriage and why you’re here left with relationship problems you didn’t expect to have in our No Blame, No Shame marriage and communication video.)

The honeymoon is over and relationship problems begin

So, we get married and then, all of a sudden, things aren’t like they were when we first met. What did we get ourselves into? We would have been better off single! If we would have only married someone else! This is not the person we thought we were getting! Sound familiar?  The luster of the romantic stage has worn off and we have forgotten why we truly picked each other in the first place.  After the romantic stage comes the inevitable power struggle stage.

Transition gracefully out of the Power Struggle and into the deeper, more satisfying Conscious Marriage

In order to get back to the connection we experienced in the beginning of our relationship and give it permanence, we must work on our relationship. Marriage is the perfect opportunity for self-growth. More than just a positive spin on dealing with conflict, it is the reason the two of you were brought together. The very challenges and frustrations you experience in your relationship are necessary to elicit growth.

A sociable and outgoing wife wishes her homebody husband would liven up. The husband wishes his wife would give him some space. This situation will replay itself and tension will build until they can engage in a mature and conscious dialogue.

After learning tools to relate and manage conflict and develop understanding and compassion, both parties are usually moved to grow towards each other. In doing so, they not only meet their spouse’s need; they become more complete and balanced people and more connected to their spouse. Through working on your relationship you will once again reach those feelings you first experienced for your spouse, yet now they will be real, stronger, and more permanent.

More inspiration on making it past the Power Struggle and into Real Love so that you can save a marriage.

Hope to Survive the Power Struggle

Most of us get lost soon after marriage. Realizing that the initial excitement of marriage is transient and can return through hard work helps ground couples and provide hope. While the power struggle is inevitable in any relationship, a conscious marriage with real love is attainable.

Just having the awareness that the romantic stage comes to a screeching halt in order to get you into the next, deeper stage of relationship is so liberating! If you know that, you can properly equip you and your partner with that knowledge and then progress by alerting and arming yourself with the best relationship knowledge out there.

There’s a lot of relationship knowledge out there and it’s important, when going through a power struggle, to not play the role of the “therapist” and try implementing all the advice that you may be reading or hearing about with an unwilling partner.

The best thing you can do is to work with us by way of our 2 Day Private Marriage Restoration Retreat. It’s the fastest way to save a marriage, fall back in love, and gain the clarity you need to move forward for your family.

There’s nothing quite like the power of gaining clarity on a confusing situation. Complete the form below to talk with Rabbi Slatkin to see what he thinks would be best for you and your unique situation.

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Shlomo & Rivka Slatkin

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin is an Imago relationship therapist and certified (master level) Imago workshop presenter with over 20 years of experience hosting couples therapy retreats in-person and online. Contact or