Family Life Cycle - Coupling Stage
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.
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.
- Relationships with
- 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:
- Advanced interpersonal
- Problem-solving skills.
- Common spiritual
and emotional development goals.
- How to form boundaries in
- When to place the needs or importance of the other
person above your own.