Stage 3: Becoming a Couple, “Enlightenment”
During this stage of a relationship, hormones are calming down and reality sets in. Couples often go “deeper” in their connection. Trust is stronger and more intimacies may be shared at this stage as couples take away some of their “best face” and allow themselves to act more naturally and relaxed.
Both halves of a couple will notice weaknesses and differences or flaws. “Cute” habits might become irritating at this stage. Some of those perpetual issues or differences such as free-spending or frugal, neat and orderly or sloppy and disorganized, interested in lots of time together or more involved in outside activities begin to emerge.
At this stage of the relationship, couples will take note of the differences and may even begin to complain or attempt to problem-solve.
As intimacy develops between the two people, more self-disclosure emerges, both verbally and non-verbally as couples act in ways that are more like how they are in their daily life.
This is when the big question emerges even more strongly: “Where are we headed?“ Women have a tendency to ask this question before men, even though both may be wondering about the answer to this question. Pushing for an answer; however, may cause real problems in the relationship. Each person needs to listen to their own inner voice and wisdom. It is important to talk over their thoughts and feelings with their partner while finding ways to keep from “pushing” for commitment.
There is no need to rush through this important stage and every reason to go slowly.
Stage 4: Commitment or Engagement
At this stage in a relationship, couples should have a good understanding of their partner’s values, life style, and goals for the future. There should be a relationship with your partner's family and friends.
Open and honest conversations should be happening as couples plan their present and future together. Questions about children, finances, careers, future goals and lifestyle should be discussed more fully. Differences are normal and couples will learn about themselves and their relationship as they note how they handle these differences with each other.
This is also an important stage for couples to use to evaluate the relationship and their ability to be part of an emotionally intelligent relationship. Engagements can be broken much more easily and can clearly be a better decision than a later divorce.