Development of the Marital Relationship Research Paper

Pages: 8 (3842 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage

¶ … Marital Relationship

Throughout the development of the marital relationship, a couple is poised to experience numerous changes, stresses, and stages as they journey through life together. From the time the first glance is given, to the time the last breath is taken, a marriage can bring the best of what life has to offer, but also the worst that life can deliver. This narrative analysis will look at the figurative couple, John and Mary, as they travel through these stages of life.

Meeting -- Dating -- Courtship

It all began… Usually, it all begins with a look or a glance. This was also true for John and Mary. He first saw her at a July 4th picnic during the summer college months as several of the fraternity houses developed a party for those who were still in town to celebrate the holiday. "When you meet someone in a social situation, the first thing you generally notice is whether that person is attractive to you," (Singer, 1980, p.19). This was certainly true for John as he glanced at Mary and she returned the look, accompanied with a precious smirk. Their relationship began the way most do, with an initial glance, and eventually John decided to ask Mary out.

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They dated off and on for the next couple years, and spent hours talking about goals, family, children, traveling, dreams, hopes, money, careers, and all the things young couples should be concerned about. Perhaps she just knew or perhaps there was a "science" to it, but Mary often dreamed of the day when John would finally ask her the big questions. "The rules of attraction make up a pretty long list. No scientist knows the order of the list. But near the top is perhaps one of the toughest characteristics to gauge in advance in the search for the perfect partner," ( 2010). For some of her friends, they claimed it was a smell, look, or a trait that was THE attraction factor, but for Mary it was a combination of attributes.

TOPIC: Research Paper on Development of the Marital Relationship Assignment

John was no different. He wanted Mary to be his wife more than he had wanted most things in his life. The questions plaguing him were not different from the ones plaguing his friends. Could he commit? Was she "the one?" Was the timing right? "Couples who thrive are unswervingly committed to each other and to their relationship. They have joyfully cast their lot with each other, and they don't spend time looking back, wondering if they did the right thing, or casting about for an escape route," (Page, 1994, p. 20). John was not looking for an out, nor was he looking for someone else. He had found what he had wanted and was ready to commit. Little did Mary know that tonight was going to be the night.

It was just days away from graduation, and finals were in sight for both of them. Soon their degrees would be conferred, and they would be on their way to with the first major step to their career goals behind them. What Mary thought was just a celebration of their accomplishment, turned out to be the night that her life would change. After dinner and a bottle of wine in their favorite Italian Restaurant, John drove Mary back to the park where they had met, bent a knee, and she said, "Yes."

Engagement -- Marriage

There is only one thing more frantic than a bride planning a wedding. That is a bride, her mother, and his mother planning a wedding. "Although you may feel that you and your in-laws have essentially achieved a conforming relationship during the early relationship period and that you have a solid foundation for dealing with future problems, remember that the family is subject to many outside sources," (Horsley, 1997, p.57). Never is this more realized then during major life events including a wedding ceremony, the birth of a child, the loss of a job, or the loss of a family member. The engagement period to John felt like nothing more then the "wedding planning phase," but to Mary, it was a highlight of their relationship. John often wished things were more like when they were dating, and Mary didn't understand why he didn't want to be more involved. For the first time, they were realizing just how different they were. "When we fail to realize and accept the difference, we build up unrealistic expectations and guarantee we will be disappointed," (Bushong, 1997, p. 17). The truth is they both still wanted each other but the pressure from the forces of John looking for a job, Mary planning a wedding, the in-laws not getting along, and the hours wasted on arguments pushed against their fairy tale utopia. They were in proximity to each other, but neither felt close to the other one. "Closeness refers to an emotional perception. Togetherness is a physical fact…you can feel close to someone who is miles away…and far from someone who may be lying the same bed with you," (Singer, 35).

John called Mary from work and asked her if they could meet alone for dinner. Mary agreed but worried all afternoon. When she arrived at the restaurant what John would say to her would change the course of the rest of their relationship.

Marriage -- Honeymoon

"I love you, Mary, more than anything, but I can't do this…rather, we can't do this, alone, that is." It was almost as though the words hung in the air as Mary tried to decipher their meaning and what the connection was. She thought he was giving up. He continued by saying, "With all the stress of the wedding, and job hunting, your mother, er, I mean, uh, our mothers, we need to talk to someone who can help guide us so we don't loose what we once had." Mary paused, and in a moment of clarity realized she had a man who believed in their relationship enough to seek help, and not only that, but he proved his commitment to her. Perhaps more couples would survive if they were to seek help during times such as these. "Three doctors who studied 6000 marriages and 3000 divorces concluded, 'There may be nothing more important in a marriage than a determination that it shall persist. With such a determination, individuals force themselves to adjust and to accept situations which would seem sufficient grounds for a breakup, if continuation of the marriage were not the prime objective," (Parrott & Parrott, 1995, p. 49). They made their appointment, and Toby entered their life.

Having someone stand outside their relationship that is able to look back in and provide insight and guidance is invaluable, and just what John and Mary needed. He informed them that often engaged couples go through this "differing" stage, and everything they were experiencing was normal. "In-law problems and relationships cannot all be painted with the same brush -- the solutions to them are unique and filled with as much variety as the people they represent," (Horsley, 1997, p. 3). Getting through this stage was one of the key building blocks for John and Mary, as it is in any relationship. Toby helped them identify that they were experiencing the common stresses that most couples go through, but to John and Mary, they felt isolated, as if they were the first couple to ever experience such stress or such issues. Toby helped them identify and isolate the concerns of joining two households, who come from at least two different walks of life, belief systems, socioeconomic status, political persuasion, and religious affiliation. This couple needed to strip away some of their present precautions and ideologies about marriage and their relationship, and begin a new relationship that would establish them as individuals and as a couple.

The day came, they walked the aisle, some family members didn't show up out of objection, but friends filled in the vacant seats and they were on their way to their new life together. They boarded the plane and they were off to their first night as John & Mary & #8230;.


Mary woke up to the sound of John getting ready in the bathroom of their newly decorated and acquired townhouse on the north side of town. Though they really couldn't afford it, they new it would bring them some stability in their developing lives. With sleep still her eyes, she sat down, only to experience the coldness of the rim of the toilet, rather than the seat that she believed should have been put down. "All marriages go through stages, the old wisdom goes. After the honeymoon phase ends, a couple will begin to be annoyed by the very qualities that attracted them to each other in the first place," (1994,-Page, p. xxi). The need for a cup of coffee in the morning, the simple short text messages that simply say, "I love you," the particular way the towels are folded, and the way the dishes… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Development of the Marital Relationship.  (2010, April 8).  Retrieved December 2, 2021, from

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"Development of the Marital Relationship."  8 April 2010.  Web.  2 December 2021. <>.

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"Development of the Marital Relationship."  April 8, 2010.  Accessed December 2, 2021.