The beginning of a new relationship is one of nature’s greatest highs. Although you might expect the relationship to stay this way forever, things will naturally change. If you are not ready for the changes, your relationship may not last.

Stage 3 is the most challenging for most couples. If you can make it past that stage, then your relationship is more likely to last. Here is some advice from Roseville marriage counseling experts to help you weather the changes that your relationship will go through over the years.

Stage 1: Passion and Excitement

Stage 1 is often referred to as “The Honeymoon Phase.” During this stage of a relationship, everything is new and exciting. Passion prevails. Characterized by sexual desire, infatuation, and intimacy, this stage can produce euphoric feelings.

During this stage, attraction and romance serve to bond a couple together. A wave of euphoric brain chemicals produce feelings that make you want to forsake all others. This phase in a relationship sets the stage for a long-term commitment.

Stage 2: Settling Down and Adjusting

In this stage, the honeymoon period ends. You are starting to discover things about your spouse that you might not have paid attention to during the first stage of your relationship. You realize that your partner is human and has both strengths and weaknesses. Minor conflict and arguments start to arise during this period. However, your relationship is also starting to become more meaningful and profound. You and your partner are beginning to accept each other — flaws and all.

Stage 3: Disillusionment and Disenchantment 

This stage of a relationship is the most critical. It is the make it or break it point for most relationships. Even the most passionate, adoring couples struggle during this stage. During this stage, the passion is starting to diminish. The rush is gone.

At the same time, you are focused on your careers, raising kids and dealing with everyday routine life. Stress from everyday things can put a strain on the relationship. You may be wondering if you made a mistake. Frustration, conflict, and disappointment have replaced passion and infatuation.  You’re fighting all the time, and your pulse no longer races when your partner walks in the door. You might be questioning whether or not you still love your partner or if you were ever indeed in love in the first place. This is the time when many couples drift apart or have affairs.

Stage 4: A Deeper Connection

If you get through the storms of the Disillusionment and Disenchantment Stage, then you’ll likely form a deeper connection. In Stage 4, you have built a very solid and lasting love. Sure, there have been problems in your relationship, but you’ve acknowledged them and found a way to move forward. You’ve learned to communicate and have grown accustomed to daily life together. Although you might still experience conflicts, they are not as emotional or intense as in the earlier stages of your relationship. At this point, you’ve accepted the good along with the bad and have decided that your partner is the right person for you.

Stage 5: A Harmonious Union

You’ve enjoyed the passion of The Honeymoon Phase, dealt with the turmoil of the Disillusionment Stage and are still together. Many empty-nesters and retired couples are in this stage. Days are spent enjoying each others’ company. Peace and fulfillment dominate in this stage.

Navigating the Stages

Although Stage 3 is the place where many couples split up, every stage has its own challenges. For example, many couples in Stage 5 struggle with continuing to show each other love and affection. At any stage, significant life challenges and stressors can impact a relationship. If you in California, consider seeking relationship counseling in Sacramento to help you navigate the stages. Don’t try to deal with problems alone. Your relationship — and your personal happiness will suffer. Give couples counseling Roseville CA a chance to help.


Nancy Ryan, LMFT

Nancy Ryan, LMFT

Nancy Ryan, LMFT specializes in working with individuals and couples who want deep, satisfying relationships with themselves and their partners.  She works with couples who are ready to stop the destructive patterns and want to build the love, friendship and romance back into their partnership. 

We have the best relationship therapists here at the Relationship Therapist Center. Please call for a free consultation at 916-426-2757 or click here to set up an appointment.