next stage in the
family life cycle may be coupling. Using qualities such as trust that you gained in the independence stage, you can explore your
ability to commit to a new family and a new way of life. Although being in an intimate
relationship with someone does involve a
process of adaptation and relationship building, a marriage or committed union often requires unique
When you join families through a marriage or committed union, you form a new
family system. Your family system includes your personal ideas, expectations,
and values. These are shaped by the relationships and experiences with your
original family. When you marry or form a union, you combine your family system with your
spouse's or partner's. This requires reshaping your goals and your partner's goals. In the most
functional relationships, partners have the ability to take two different points of
view and create an option that neither person had considered. It differs from a
compromise in that it is not giving up something. Rather, it is creating a
third, better option.
When a pet dies, it's common for people to feel as though they've lost a
member of the family. For children, this is often their first encounter with
death. In an attempt to soften the blow, parents sometimes explain the death of
a pet in vague ways or skirt the topic altogether. But experts say this just
makes things worse by leaving children anxious and mystified.
Explaining a pet's death to children in a clear, respectful manner can go a
long way toward making the journey a little less distressful,...
You may find that some of the ideas or
expectations that you held in the past are not realistic at this stage. Some
common areas of adjustment include:
activities or hobbies.
Sexuality or sexual
Putting another person's
needs before your own.
The ultimate goal at this stage is to achieve
interdependence, which occurs when you are able to fully enter into a
relationship with another person. Interdependence also requires that you share
goals and that you are able to sometimes place the needs of another above
your own. But before you can achieve interdependence, you must first have a high degree of independence.
The relationship skills
you learn in coupling serve as a foundation for other relationships, such as
parent-child, teacher-student, or physician-patient.
couple, you learn:
and emotional development goals.
How to form boundaries in
When to place the needs or importance of the other
person above your own.
Most research shows that early on, a happy marriage is
full of passion and sexual intimacy, which can become less important in later
successful marriage. A satisfying marriage at this stage includes a high amount
of considerate or kind acts (such as doing something nice for the other person
without being asked) and praise.
The life skills you learn in
this stage are important in developing true interdependence and the ability to
have a cooperative and healthy relationship. Some of the challenges of this
Transitioning into the new family
Including your spouse or partner in your relationships with friends
and family members.
Being committed to making your marriage
Putting the needs of another ahead of your own.
You and your partner will have less stress if the transition
into a new family system is smooth. Less stress often means better
Your specific goals for this stage of the family life
Forming a new family with your
Realigning your relationships with your family of origin
and your friends to now include your spouse.