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Marriage Counselor Reveals 10 Relationship Stages Couples Must Go Through to Last

Marriage Counselor Reveals 10 Relationship Stages Couples Must Go Through

Most people don’t know that different stages of a relationship exist, but knowing this can help your relationship succeed. For example, once the honeymoon phase ends, couples start to settle into more of a long-term friendship. They realize that it takes effort and a conscious choice to make the relationship work. Then the real work begins after the butterflies start to fade. Unfortunately, movies and other media outlets have glamorized relationships and given people unrealistic expectations about them.

Many relationships fail because people expect to feel the same way about their partner after years of being together as they did in the very beginning. Of course, after having kids and dealing with life’s responsibilities, those exciting and intense feelings begin to fade. Perhaps this disappointment in reality not living up to fantasy may explain why around half of the marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.

However, if a couple chooses to remain together, they should learn about the different stages of a relationship, so they know what to expect. Below, we’ll go over them in more detail.

Here are ten relationship stages every couple should know about:

While different relationship stage theories exist, we will focus on the one by Dr. Mark Knapp, a renowned professor at the University of Texas. He studied patterns in relationships and was considered an expert in nonverbal communication research. While his model assumes that all relationships will eventually end, as evidenced by the coming apart phases, not all relationships will follow this pattern.

With that said, he came up with ten different stages, broken up into two phases: the coming together and coming apart phases. Let’s go over them more extensively below.

The Coming Together Phase

Relationships don’t all begin in the same way, but they usually have some things in common. Some people meet through online dating sites or in the workplace, while others meet during travels abroad. After the initial coming together phase, most couples will go through the following stages of a relationship.

  1. The Initiation Stage

This phase happens during the dating phase when you both are still getting to know each other. You know that you like one another, but you haven’t committed to each other yet. Right now, you may get together one or two times a week for dates where you gauge your compatibility with this person. You may feel that butterfly sensation in your stomach when you meet up with them, as everything feels fresh and exciting.

  1. The Experimentation Stage

If you decide that you wish to take things further, you get to know them on a deeper level. You may start dating formally and call each other boyfriend or girlfriend. Others begin to recognize you as a couple, and you make this person the center of your world. While you haven’t fallen in love with them yet, you realize the potential in this relationship and want to test the waters.

In this stage, you get to know their values and outlook on things and see if they match yours. While you probably don’t agree on everything, you have enough in common to want to continue dating them.

  1. Intensifying Stage

This time is the real honeymoon stage where everything goes smoothly, and you want to see them as much as possible. After work or on the weekends, you call or text your new beau and make plans to meetup or chat on the phone for a while. You start to feel comfortable enough with this person to where you want to divulge more intimate details about yourself. You find yourself developing deep feelings for this person and may begin to picture a future with them.

  1. Integration Stage

Since you’ve officially become a couple, you start to mesh your lives together. While you may not live together at this point, you still take each other into account when you make plans and revolve your lives around one another. You have routines and habits as a unit, and start to see yourselves as an “us” rather than a “me and you.”

  1. The Bonding Stage

As your relationship deepens, you start to bond more intensely. You may decide to live together or get married because you feel so strongly about each other. You’ve made sure that your ideals and values line up and that your personalities mesh well together. The people closest to you recognize the seriousness of your relationship, and you may decide to make a formal commitment, such as marriage.

The Coming Apart Phase

Unfortunately, not all relationships last forever. While some people stay married for life, many others decide to divorce or break up due to a variety of reasons. If you start to see any of these stages happening in your relationship, it may signal trouble in the near future.

Here are the stages of a relationship in the coming apart phase:

  1. The Differentiating Stage

Whether this happens after months or years together, every couple goes through this phase at some point. Even if the relationship lasts a lifetime, couples will have periods where they don’t see eye to eye on things. They may notice incompatibilities in their personalities or beliefs. They may see themselves as separate people rather than one unit. If you can’t overcome your differences, you may decide to break up during this phase.

  1. The Circumscribing Stage

The stages of a relationship include a phase where you drift further apart, called the circumscribing stage. You may start to set more boundaries for yourself and have more of your life separate from your significant other. You may begin to do things on your own accord without consulting with your partner first. As a result of the distance in your relationship, you may have more arguments or feelings of resentment.

The intimacy steadily decreases, and you may start sleeping in separate rooms or even moving back with friends or family for a while. You still love them, but you don’t see yourself as a unit any longer.

  1. The Stagnation Stage

You feel that the relationship is hurtling toward a dead end. In this stage, you don’t feel devoted to your partner like you used to and don’t see much of a future with them. While both of you may know that things have come to a standstill, you may have a hard time formally ending things. In the coming apart stages of a relationship, you have to decide to either reconcile or go your separate ways.

  1. The Avoidance Stage

In this phase, you try to avoid one another as much as possible. If you still live together, you may have separate lives and only interact if you have to talk about bills or other adult responsibilities. However, any feelings of love or devotion toward your partner have faded. You may start making plans to move out and have a life of your own so you can have closure.

  1. The Termination Stage

In this stage, you make a formal decision to end your relationship. Whether you have hard feelings or not, you realize that you don’t get along anymore and feel it’s best to move on. If you were married, you might start or finalize your divorce. If you had been living together, you decide to go your separate ways. You tell family and friends about your separation as well once you’ve made the decision.

The importance of understanding the stages of a relationship

Many people become confused or overwhelmed about their relationship because of the emotions involved. However, even if you love someone, you may grow apart or realize you want different things in life. Understanding the phases that relationships go through will give you awareness if you and your partner start to drift apart. It will also help you learn when to give a relationship the green light if you’ve just started dating someone.

Final thoughts about the stages of a relationship

Relationships all go through phases, but not all of them will last forever. Some couples can weather the stormy seas, while others decide to jump ship and start over with someone new. Of course, every relationship is unique, and what is right for one couple may not apply to another. No formal rulebook for life exists; we have to make it up as we go.

Therefore, no matter what relationship stage you find yourself in, know that the right person will stand by you through all the phases. If your relationship must come to an end, try to take the lessons you learned from it and keep an open heart for Mr. or Mrs. Right. They will come along when you least expect it, so enjoy your life and go with the flow. Exit a disharmonious relationship gracefully, and wish your ex well along their path in life.

Relationships may seem complicated, but when you find the right person, you’ll have clarity about life that you’ve never felt before.


Counselor Reveals 10 Tips to Help You Raise Well-adjusted Kids

Counselor Reveals 10 Tips to Help You Raise Well-adjusted Kids

Well-adjusted kids are able to control their emotions and deal with their problems without getting overly anxious. As a parent, you hope to raise kids who become well-adjusted adults. But why does this matter so much?

Children today live in a world that can be fast-paced and overwhelming. The rapid-fire pace of life can overwhelm. As a parent, you must equip your little one to not only survive–but to thrive.

10 Tips for Raising Well-adjusted Kids

Here are 10 counselors’ helpful tips to raise happy, well-adjusted children.

1 – Be a predictable parent

Predictable parenting gives a child a sense of stability. Studies found that unpredictable actions and attitudes from parents are unsettling for kids. Kids who are raised with parents who relate to their children in a peaceful, calm way promote a child’s ability to control their own emotions and actions. Create a low-stress routine for your children with predictable mealtimes, playtimes, and sleeping times. This allows your kids to understand what their day will be like and make them feel a sense of being in control. Of course, life has its unpredictable moments. That’s okay, as long as the majority of your days, weeks, and months follow a predictable routine.

2 – Be a good example to your kids

The old saying, “do as I say and not as I do” isn’t a good parenting philosophy. Your kids watch you all the time. They watch how you treat other people, handle your stress, and how you deal with your feelings. And your kids imitate your words and actions. Have you ever heard your child talk to a sibling or a friend in a bossy parental way? You cringed when you realized they sound just like you do when you correct them. Living as a good example for your kids is essential for raising well-adjusted kids. You can’t tell them one thing but do another thing. They’ll see your hypocrisy right away.

Examples of hypocrisy in parenting:

  • If you tell your kids to be kind, but you gossip about people to your kids.
  • You yell at your kids, but you tell them not to yell at their siblings.
  • You tell your kids to be patient, but then you get angry at the restaurant when your food doesn’t arrive quickly enough.
  • You tell your kids to serve others, but you always tell your neighbors you’re too busy to help them even when you’re not.

Your kids will catch on to your lack of integrity.  They will feel it’s unfair when you correct them, but then you don’t live by the same rules.

3 – Teach your kids to respect your household rules

Every household has rules. Your kids need to understand the rules of your home and to respect them by obeying them. Kids need to know their boundaries. If you’re aren’t firm on the rules, they’ll feel like they can do whatever they want. Or if you’re too strict, they’ll feel like all you care about are the rules.

Explain your rules

Explain to your child why the rule exists. “In our house, everyone does chores because we all contribute.”

Praise when they obey

When your child attempts to do a chore, be sure to give them praise even if it’s not perfectly done. “I love the way you worked so hard to put away the dishes. Great job.”

You obey the rules

If the house rules are to clean up after yourself, be sure you do it. Don’t expect your kids to do things you don’t do.

Good conscience

If your child feels bad about not doing something that’s a sign they have a working conscience. That’s a good thing.  Emphasize that although they did make a mistake, everybody makes mistakes.

4 – Discipline your children appropriately

Discipline helps your child learn to better fit into the world. Positive and effective discipline teaches kids to obey without force. When you discipline your child, you’re telling them what unacceptable behavior looks like in a loving, firm way.

Studies on raising happy children found that discipline is one of the most important roles for parents. It requires lots of time and energy. There are no shortcuts when it comes to being a parent. What parent hasn’t had to stop what they were doing to discipline your child? It’s frustrating, exhausting, and overwhelming. But parenting reaps wonderful rewards.

When you discipline your child, be firm, but kind. If you tell your child they need a time out, stand by your decision, don’t waffle when they cry or plead. Effective discipline helps your kids learn self-control and self-discipline as they grow. Be sure you maintain a good bond with your kids, they should feel your respect. Never call them names or belittle them. No shouting, yelling or lashing out at them. This will erode their trust in you.

5 – Teach your kids to be selfless when dealing with other people

Kids aren’t born thinking about others. Everyone has heard a little kid yell, “Mine!” instead of sharing their toys. Unselfishness and being others’ oriented needs to be taught. Encourage your kids to help others, to share, and to have empathy for others. Plan opportunities for your family to help in your community homeless shelter or soup kitchen or participate in a community clean up.

6 – Teach your kids problem-solving skills

Your kids need to learn how to solve their problems. Your three-year-old son may need to learn to have self-control by not screaming when his big brother wants to play with his toy, but your thirteen-year-old daughter may need to learn how to compromise during an argument with her best friend. Here are three strategies to help your kids learn how to solve their own problems.

Give your child choices

Let your younger kids choose clothing, food, or what activities they want to do. Give them a choice of ‘this or that’ rather than open-ended choices.

As they learn how to make small decisions, then you can begin to give them choices in problem-solving situations. When your younger daughter is screaming at her little brother, ask her, “What would be a better way to solve this instead of screaming at your brother grabbed your toy?”

 Teach them to not give up

Encourage them to work hard to solve their problems whether it’s how to clean up their toys or put away their clean clothes.

 Let them think

When your child asks you a question about how to do something, don’t just tell them, ask them what they would do. This forces them to think about how to solve problems.

 7 – Teach your children to be kindhearted

Praise your kids when they show kindness to people or animals. Encourage their efforts even if they aren’t received well or aren’t well thought out.  Give them pointers on what kindness looks like. Be a good model for your kids of being kind to those around you.

8 – Teach your kids gratitude

Teach your child to say thank you and show gratitude to adults or other kids. Encourage them to look for the good even in difficult situations in their life. Congratulate your child when they express gratitude. Make it a regular conversation to point out what you’re grateful. Ask them what they’re thankful for.

9 – Teach your kids good health habits

Teach your kids the value of being healthy. Eating good foods, exercise, and taking care of your body are important things for a parent to teach their kids. Set an example at home by serving healthy meals and doing family outside activities like hiking, going to the beach or to the park. Stay active with your kids in the backyard playing soccer or basketball.

10 – Teach your kids how to express their emotions

As a parent, you understand we need to feed, clothe, and educate your children. That’s the easy stuff. The more difficult thing you’ll face is training your kids to express themselves. Kids are a bundle of emotions. They express themselves through crying, angry outbursts, or fear.

It’s difficult to untangle what’s really going on when your three- year son suddenly refuses to go to bed at night because of the dark. But as hard as it is, it’s critically important that you stay engaged with your kids in spite of their messy emotions.

Being a lax parent can cause emotional and mental harm to your child. Don’t try to address every emotional outburst, pick one, and work with your child on it. Teach them better ways to communicate. Give them some simple instructions on how to express their emotions such as,  “I’m sad about….” or “I don’t like it when..” or “I get afraid when…”

Final Thoughts on Raising Well-adjusted Kids in a Fast-Paced World

Parenting well-adjusted kids take thoughtful engagement on your part. Staying consistent in your words and actions is extremely important for raising happy kids. When you live out what you ask their kids to do, they’ll follow your example. So hang in their parents. Stay strong and keep working to help your kids become happy, well-adjusted adults.


Counselor Explains the Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

Counselor Explains the Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

Homeschooling might be the wave of the future, and nearly two million children learn in the comfort of their homes every day. Many students are delving into home learning for safety reasons, while others have chosen this lifestyle for their family. While there are certainly some benefits to homeschooling, there are also some cons that need to be considered.

Counting the Cost of School Versus Homeschooling

Every day, millions of Americans get their kids up and send them off to school. Your local education system works hard to provide learning opportunities for your child. These parents sent their children into a world where things are quite scary.

Not only can these children be infected with viruses and diseases that can be harmful if not deadly, but they can experience violence and bullying. No wonder so many parents are rearranging their lives to homeschool their children.

If you’re on the fence about going back to an old-fashioned style of learning, then you must consider the effects this education system has on the child and the entire family.

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Pros of Homeschooling

There are many advantages to taking your child’s education into your hands. When you’re the teacher, then you get to call the shots. You can teach them what you think is appropriate if it falls within the curriculum requirements for your district. Here are some other pros to consider:

1. Quality Time

Many families struggle with the ability to spend quality time with their families. With hectic work, school, and sports schedules, it seems the family only has time to pass at times. When you homeschool, quality time is not an issue. Your child will have your full, undivided attention, as they rely on you for instruction.

2. Your Curriculum – Your Way

Each school system has different guidelines that are set forth for homeschooling. However, most authorities only require a plan of action and to know that the child learns the required skills. Some parents feel it’s foolish to teach subjects like calculus and trigonometry.

Many parents take a pragmatic approach to their child’s education. They teach them real-world things they need to use. It does someone no good if they can solve a calculus problem, but they cannot cook a meal. Fractions and elements that apply to life are the best subjects.

There are hundreds of programs for you to choose from, including online learning applications. Many school districts even have an online version of their educational program that costs little to nothing to use. The options to bring the classroom to the home are vast.

quotes for children

3. Fit the Education Plan to Your Child’s Needs

Each child has unique learning abilities. Parents with children who have disabilities often love homeschooling because the curriculum can be concentrated on their child’s specific learning needs. If a child requires one-on-one type learning, then who is better than their parent to teach them? You know your child better than anyone.

Some children require medications or a revised schedule due to physical or mental limitations. A homeschool parent can create a schedule that focuses on those needs. You don’t have to take into consideration 20 other children and their demands.

4. Small Class Size – Better Learning

Class size is always a big issue when it comes to schools. The board of education puts out mandates on how many can be in a classroom with one teacher. Teachers have a stressful job trying to attend to and teach so many at once.

However, when it’s just a child and their siblings, the smaller class size allows you to help them when needed directly. Some children are self-starters and won’t need much assistance. Sadly, some cannot answer one or two questions without direction.

Having the small class size allows the child to feel that they aren’t left behind, so they don’t need to be confused about a subject. You simply don’t move on until they master it. There are no stringent deadlines when you homeschool.

5. You Set Your Schedule

Some people are early birds, and others prefer the night owl lifestyle. When you are the teacher, you can say if school starts at 8 am or noon. Since everyone’s schedule is different, and you have work and other activities, you can set your timetable based on the needs of the home.

Additionally, if you want to call off school one day for a doctors’ appointment or other meetings, it’s not an issue. You don’t need to show proof or call the school when your child is too sick or can’t do school that day. You just need to meet an hourly requirement that you can prove to the board.

6. You Can Travel

Many movie and television stars have their children in homeschool programs so that they can travel with them. If you have a computer, and some quiet time, then a child can turn any area into a learning center. If your family is on the road a lot or you long to take vacations, there’s nothing in the rules that says your child must learn in your home.

You have the freedom to take their studies on the road. What kid wouldn’t want to do their work beachside?

7. Better Teaching Materials

Teachers are limited to the materials that are purchased for them through the board of education. Sadly, many educators must pay for supplies out of their pockets due to funding cuts. When you homeschool, you get to say what materials you want to use.

Some programs even provide learning devices and workbooks for you. The internet is full of all sorts of resources for those who want to homeschool and need materials. The support for this style of learning is overwhelming, as it’s certainly grown in popularity.

The Cons of Homeschooling

It’s easy to see that there are numerous advantages to homeschool. However, there are also several cons that you should also consider. Before making such a choice, you need to evaluate the downsides to this type of learning.


1. Some Children Are Hard to Motivate

Some children are challenging to motivate to do their work. If they see the television, video games, and other distractions in the home, it may be impossible for them to do their job.

Setting up a dedicated classroom or workspace can help, but some children need to be sent to a place about learning to focus on schoolwork.

2. Parent’s Aren’t Always the Best Teachers

To be a homeschool teacher, you must have a solid background and be educated. You must know the stuff you are teaching your child. Additionally, you are making a long-term commitment that is going to impact the future of your kid.

Some people find that they just can’t get their children to listen to them or cooperate. Consequently, some children will do things for other people that they would never do for their parents, including learning.

3. It’s Easy to Get Off Schedule with Homeschooling

When your child must report to the school, it’s easy to stay on a schedule. However, when you are teaching from home, it takes discipline. It’s so easy to get off track and procrastinate.

Why do schooling when you can go to the mall instead? Though that statement sounds extreme, it becomes challenging to keep up with school if you are not disciplined enough to stick with a schedule. The school must be the priority of the day, and everything else takes a back seat.

4. It Can Impede Social Skills

Children are in desperate need of developing social skills. The only people in their life cannot be family. If they don’t mingle and play with other children, then they can soon develop social inadequacies that will haunt them for life.

Many programs encourage homeschool children to socialize. However, parents must take an active part in ensuring the social needs are met. Sadly, many don’t have the time for such activities.

Children cannot be expected to stay behind four walls every day. There must be social activities, and it costs money and time.

5. Can Make College More Difficult

Many kids that have been homeschooled have problems when they go back to public school or off to college. Learning in a classroom setting is so different than learning at home. Some people may not be able to adjust from a small group to a large group without issues.

6. Puts a Big Burden on Parents

Parents have a significant responsibility to teach their children the things they need for the future. Many try to do this while working from home. It can be quite a considerable undertaking to try to juggle many things at once.

However, if you’re forced into a situation where you have no choice but to homeschool, then you must make it work. Though, it will probably stress you to the max.

7. You Need A Dedicated Space

One of the most important parts of homeschooling is having a dedicated space that you can allow your children to work. Working at the kitchen table may be suitable for a few days, but you don’t want that mess in your dining room long term.

Children need a desk, places to hang their artwork and papers, and a site that is dedicated to learning. It will make the entire process more manageable when there is a space designated just for their school needs.

homeschoolingFinal Thought: Is Homeschooling Right for Your Children?

Finally, consider some of the greatest minds in our time who studied through homeschooling. Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb and many other things, but the traditional school didn’t work for him. He was sent home as his teacher said that he was unteachable.

The harmful statement infuriated his mother. She knew how bright her son was, and she was determined to give him the education he needed. The rest is history. Other big names like Miley Cyrus, Dakota Fanning, Christian Aguilera, and Ryan Gosling also received homeschooling.

No one else knows what works for your child like you. When you’re in the driver’s seat, your child’s education can be a fun and memorable time in their formative years. Are you ready for the challenge?