stage is the first one. Then, we move into a period of fun
and romance and going out that can last weeks, months or years.
Stage 3 is a time of struggle, when couples start finding out things
they may not like about each other. Power games can range
from who gets to make social arrangements, to the way he likes her
hair done, to attitudes about important matters such as money, work,
This is the 'make or
break' stage as many couples cannot take the heat at this point
and end up separating. Some unwise couples are already living
together or married when they begin the power struggle and they
end up trapped in a prison of their own making. How many couples
do you know who spend their whole lives hassling and bickering,
some in fun and some in hostility?
After the power struggle
comes the negotiation point, if the relationship has survived. This
is the time for couples to ask serious questions about themselves
and each other before they go any further. I'm a strong advocate
of pre-marriage counselling. No-one in their right mind would
enter a business arrangement because they like the colour of their
partner's eyes, and yet people think nothing of committing to a
lifetime with someone on that basis! At the very least, you
need to know what the other person wants from a partner, what they
think they have to put into a relationship, and what they hope to
get out of it.
If all things are equal
and prospects look reasonable, the couple can then decide what type
of commitment they wish to make living together on a trial
basis, de facto marriage, or the full thing. For religious
and moral reasons, some couples opt for the last choice but a lot
of young people don't want traditional marriage these days.
Issues like whether they'll have children, how many, when, how will
they be raised, and so on, are too important to be left to chance
in the complex world of the 2000s. It may all sound a bit
cold-blooded and unromantic, but there is nothing more unromantic
than divorce and unwanted children and bitter breakups. No,
I'm afraid romance is for courting couples, not for the betrothed.
Getting married with rose-coloured glasses on is like playing
Russian roulette it's only a matter of time before the fatal
shot is fired.