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Stage 5: Child Stage
7 Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Ideally, this stage comes after the conflict and during the second honeymoon stages, so that the bond between the couple has had a chance to establish and develop into a stable and mature relationship. However, some couples keep going in and out of this stage throughout the relationship, getting stuck in a closed cycle, preventing them from developing and going forward in their life. The “child” in this stage can be a real flesh-and-blood baby or an all absorbing activity, career or hobby that gets in between the couple, preventing intimacy and growth.

A Real Child

A child brings a new dynamic to the relationship. We go temporarily back into a new conflict phase in our relationship as a couple. This is classic group dynamic theory.

The woman’s mind and brain change during and after pregnancy. The man finds himself relegated to number three in the household. Many divorces happen after the birth of the first child. This is where reality diverges from the perfect romantic novel type relationship and we show our real maturity. There are three basic changes in the couple’s dynamics:

If the couple have travelled through the first four stages, learning and maturing along the way, and are prepared to work together for their child, this stage should be a joy. The conflicts should be short and superficial as the couple have the maturity and tools to deal with the conflicts that arise.

The creation of a child is something both contributed to and both have valuable roles in raising the child while supporting each other. It is sad when a new father feels ignored or rejected by his partner; it is a sign of the man’s immaturity. Roles change, the mother is the primary carer, but she need to be cared for herself. That the father is number three in the home is a fact of life which any reasonably mature and responsible person should be able to accept.

Each stage in a relationship’s development helps us mature, become more responsible, a fuller, more complete person. Resisting in any of these stages denies the individual the positive effects and entrenches an immaturity, irresponsibility that leads to relationship disappointments and either divorce or an unhappy marriage.

Relationships are not static, and during this stage the couple should move on to the next phase in their life together. Marriage problems occur if the couple get stuck in this conflict stage because they refuse to mature and grow up. There is much stress and exasperation in the first year with the new baby. A baby needs two parents. The parent need each other.

A husband/father who takes his responsibility and accepts himself as number three shows his love for his wife by being a part of the new family, even if it does mean less intimacy and a temporary period of celibacy.

But do not forget that you need to do more together than feed the baby and change diapers. You need time together. This is where extended families are a great support. Pumping some milk and leaving your baby with grandma or auntie from Friday evening to Saturday afternoon, gives you a time for that vital intimacy and rest you both so desperately need in this relationship phase.

The Negative “Child”

There is also a negative child. This is a career, a hobby or an negative attitude towards living your life as a couple. It is something that takes so much attention from the relationship that in effect the couple live as two single people sharing a home. This situation can even happen if you do something together, but the passion is directed at the activity and not into the relationship.

Once again the way to grow and mature as a couple is to communicate, communicate and . . . Oh yes, communicate!, because around the corner waiting to ambush is the midlife crisis.

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