Crisis periods of marriage

Stages and crisis periods of marriage

When analyzing the stages of development of marital relations, the following are distinguished: young marriage, middle-aged marriage and mature marriage.

A young marriage lasts less than five years. The age of the spouses is between 18 and 30 years old. During this period they get used to each other, often do not have their own apartment and live with the parents of one of them. Over time, an apartment appears and a household is built. The spouses are expecting children. In the professional field they are just acquiring some qualifications. Gradually, the spouses adapt to the new family environment, often supported financially and “morally” by their parents.

A middle-aged marriage lasts 6-14 years. During this period, people are economically active and occupy a stable social position. Children – schoolchildren or students – become more and more independent.

The marriage of mature age occurs after 15 and lasts until 25 years of age. The family has grown children, the spouses stay alone or get used to living with their families and raising grandchildren.

Older marriages are characterized by decreased productivity and increased health problems. Marriage tends to be stable. Spouses need help and are afraid of losing each other.

A crisis situation in the family may arise without the influence of any external factors determining the domestic and economic situation of the couple, without the intervention of parents, infidelity or any pathological features of the personality of one of the spouses. The presence of these factors hastens the creation of the crisis situation and aggravates it.

There are two main critical periods in the development of the marital relationship.

The first occurs between the third and seventh years of married life and lasts in the favorable case about a year. Its emergence is facilitated by the following factors:

– The disappearance of romantic moods, the active rejection of the contrast in the behavior of the partner during the period of love and in everyday family life;

– the increase of the number of situations in which the spouses find different views of things and cannot agree;

– more frequent manifestations of negative emotions, increased tension in the relationship between the partners.

The second crisis period occurs approximately between the seventeenth and twenty-fifth years of life together. It is less deep, than the first, and can proceed some years. Its occurrence often coincides

– With an increase in emotional instability, fears, the emergence of various somatic complaints;

– The emergence of feelings of loneliness associated with the departure of children;

– with increasing emotional dependence of the wife, her worries about the rapid aging, as well as the possible desire of her husband to sexually express themselves on the side “before it’s too late.

Thus, crisis situations have certain patterns that lie at the heart of the marital relationship. For an effective solution to the problems should not look for fault only in the behavior of any of the partners. These patterns need to know and take into account, adjusting their behavior in accordance with them. Types of marital conflicts

A conflict is a clash, confrontation of at least two people, groups, their mutually opposite, incompatible, mutually exclusive needs, interests, goals, types of behavior, attitudes, attitudes, essential for a person and a group.

Participants in family conflicts are often not the opposing parties, who are adequately aware of their goals; rather, they are victims of their own unconscious personalities and incorrect, not corresponding to reality, vision of the situation and themselves. Family conflicts are characterized by extremely ambiguous and then inadequate situations related to the peculiarities of people’s behavior in conflicts. Demonstrated behavior often masks the true feelings and perceptions of the conflict situation and each other. Thus, behind the rude and noisy clashes of spouses can hide affection and love, and behind the emphasized politeness – emotional breakdown, and sometimes even hatred.

Family conflicts are usually associated with the desire of people to meet certain needs or create the conditions for their satisfaction without taking into account the interests of the partner. The reasons for this are many. This and different views on family life, and unrealized expectations and needs, rudeness, disrespectful attitude, marital infidelity, financial difficulties, etc. Conflict, as a rule, is not caused by one, but a set of reasons, among which conditionally it is possible to allocate the main – for example, the unmet needs of spouses.

В. A. A. Sysenko singles out the following causes of conflicts on the basis of unsatisfied needs.

1. Conflicts, discord arising from unsatisfied needs for value and importance of one’s “I”, violation of dignity of the other partner, his/her neglectful, disrespectful attitude. Insults, offenses, unreasonable criticism.

2. Conflicts, discord, mental stress based on the unmet sexual needs of one or both spouses.

3. Mental tension, depression, conflict, quarrels because of the unsatisfied needs of one or both spouses for positive emotions: absence of affection, care, attention, understanding of humor, gifts.

4. Conflicts, quarrels due to one spouse’s addiction to alcohol, gambling and other hypertrophied needs, leading to uneconomical and inefficient and sometimes useless spending of family funds.

5. Financial disputes arising from the exaggerated needs of one spouse in the allocation of the budget, the maintenance of the family, the contribution of each partner to the material support of the family.

6. Conflicts, quarrels, quarrels because of unsatisfied needs of spouses for food, clothes, home arrangements, etc.

7. Conflicts in connection with the need for mutual assistance, mutual support, cooperation on division of labor in the family, housekeeping, child care, etc. 8.

8. Conflicts, disagreements, quarrels on the basis of different needs and interests in leisure and recreation, various hobbies.

Thus, Sysenko considers the stability or instability of marriage through the satisfaction of the needs of the spouses. For each spouse in the joint life there must be some minimum necessary level of satisfaction of needs, otherwise there is discomfort, negative emotions and feelings are formed and consolidated. On the basis of unsatisfied or partially satisfied needs there may be temporary or chronic physiological, mental tension, which gradually undermines the emotional and psychological stability of the marriage.

According to the degree of danger to family ties, conflicts can be:

– Non-dangerous – arise in the presence of objective difficulties, fatigue, irritability, state of “nervous breakdown”; suddenly begun, the conflict can quickly end. It is often said about such conflicts: “All will have passed by morning.

– dangerous – disagreements arise from the fact that one of the spouses must, in the opinion of the other, to change the line of behavior, for example, in relation to relatives, to abandon certain habits, review certain life guidelines, methods of education, etc., that is, a problem is raised, which requires a dilemma: to give in or not;

– especially dangerous – lead to divorce.

Let us dwell in more detail on the motivation of this category of conflicts.

1. They do not agree in character – the motive is “purely” psychological. Each person chooses ways, techniques and methods of activity, which form his/her individual style of behavior. About this it is necessary to remember and not to strive to “re-educate”, “remake” the other partner, but to take into account or adapt to the properties of his/her nature. However, some character defects (demonstrativeness, authoritarianism, indecisiveness, etc.) can themselves be a source of conflict situations in the family.

2. Adultery and sexual life in marriage. Disillusionment with married life and disharmony in sexual relationships lead to adultery. It is important to understand that sexual need can be truly satisfied only on the background of positive feelings and emotions that are possible when emotional and psychological needs are met.

3. domestic drunkenness and alcoholism. This is a traditional motive for divorce. Alcohol abuse of one of the spouses creates an abnormal atmosphere in the family and a constant ground for conflict. Psychotraumatic situations arise for all family members and especially for children. Material difficulties arise, the sphere of spiritual interests narrows, and spouses become increasingly estranged from one another.

Family crises.

No, of course they admit that there will be quarrels and misunderstandings, but do not pay much attention to it.

And suddenly, like a snowball, problems, and it seems that the unsolvable.

Beloved person becomes a stranger, quietly talk is not possible, and there are already thoughts of separation. That is how the crisis in the relationship begins.

The concept of .

To put it simply, a crisis period is a revolutionary life cycle in the family, provoked by the unwillingness of partners to live the way they used to live .

In history, all revolutions ended with the transition to another level, the introduction of new foundations and social rules.

In a family, as a rule, there are 2 variants of its end: preservation of relations and divorce.

In connection with crises there is a quite natural question: why do we need them? Like age crises, family crises contribute to development (in this case, relationships). This is an opportunity to get to know each other better, to understand the partner, to strengthen feelings.

It is worth noting that crises also occur in relationships before marriage. But they have some differences from family crises. The main one is that before marriage, crisis periods are mostly cyclical, that is, they occur anyway, and after the beginning of life together they are mostly situational. Which means that in addition to crises by year, there are those associated with certain circumstances, such as the birth of children.

Why do they arise in a relationship?

Psychologists have identified a number of main causes and risk factors, which are primarily due to the onset of crisis periods:

  1. Lack of common interests . After some time after the wedding the rose-colored glasses fall off, and out comes the fact that the spouses may have been carefully hidden. It turns out that the husband is not as romantic as he seemed before. And the wife spends more time talking on the phone, rather than, for example, for the preparation of dinner. Soon it becomes clear that there is nothing to talk about.
  2. Fading feelings. Passion and infatuation pass sooner or later. And if the marriage is not based on true love and affection, the spouses will not feel anything but irritation.
  3. Lack of equality . An example is the situation when the woman sits at home with the children and runs the household, and the man, coming home from work, reproaches her for not doing anything. At the same time, he points out that he provides for the family.
  4. Lack of emotional connection and support. This is a situation where spouses do not enjoy each other’s successes, do not support each other in endeavors.
  5. A serious illness or the birth of an unhealthy child. In both cases, there are quarrels and scandals, accompanied by recriminations and high-pitched conversations.
  6. Financial problems. It does not matter if they are temporary or permanent.

Another reason is getting married not for love, but out of revenge on the former, out of a desire to separate from parents as soon as possible, etc.

General symptoms of difficulties with the husband

As mentioned above, the onset of the crisis can be determined by how the attitude toward the partner changes. He no longer attracts, but, on the contrary, irritates .

And this is only the first alarm bell. There are a number of others:

  1. An almost complete absence of intimacy.
  2. Disagreements on any, even the most trifling issues.
  3. Unwillingness to hear the opinion of the spouse, the need to always and in everything to be against.
  4. Lack of any emotion towards the partner. Husband or wife no longer want to share with their partner the important things that happen to them, how they feel, what they dream about.
  5. Monotony, boredom.
  6. One-sided decision making, not taking into account the opinion of the opponent.

The desire to spend more and more time alone, alone or with friends can also be added to the list.

Conventionally, crisis periods are divided into normative and non-normative.

Normative .

Are associated with the problems that, sooner or later, every family faces. There are only 10 of them:

  • The birth of the first child;
  • The period when the child begins to talk;
  • the period when the child enters the first grade;
  • adolescence, which is often combined with an age crisis in the parents;
  • The beginning of independent life, when the child leaves the parental home;
  • the creation of the child’s own family;
  • The onset of menopause in a woman;
  • decrease in the man’s sex drive;
  • birth of grandchildren;
  • The death of a husband or wife.

According to the American psychotherapist Virginia Satir, the basis of normative crises is the birth and subsequent upbringing of a child. Childless couples break up within the first 3 years of starting life together or, if divorce is avoided, live happily ever after. According to statistics, only 5% of such families break up.


Non-normative crises in marriage were described by psychologists Eidemiller and Justizkis. They associated them with various problems that arise in the process of life together.

There are 10 such crisis periods, too :

  • illness of one of the spouses;
  • unstable political or economic situation in the country, war;
  • treason;
  • frequent conflicts with others;
  • domestic problems;
  • unexpected change of social status;
  • Excessive physical or emotional stress;
  • divorce;
  • violence in the family;
  • the process of adaptation when adopting a child.

Non-normative crises can arise suddenly, and sometimes even combine with each other.

A detailed description of normative and non-normative crises is here.

Marriage crises by year

As strange as it may sound, the first crisis comes as early as a year after the beginning of life together. This is the time when lovers experience disappointment because their expectations do not always match reality. They realize that there are differences in characters, desires, and perhaps face their first financial difficulties.

The rest of the family relationship crises occur during periods such as:

  1. 3 years . The difference in personality traits becomes more noticeable, boredom appears and mutual understanding disappears.
  2. 5 years . Interest in each other fades, in part because by this time most couples have children. Taking care of the baby does not leave a single free minute to communicate. The result is indifference or even aggression. For this period is also characterized by boredom. Spouses head over heels into routine activities and daily life. There is no romance in their relationship anymore.
  3. 10 years . This crisis often coincides with a midlife crisis. Husbands and wives, looking back on the years lived, may conclude that they never reached their goals. Suddenly they realize that the family takes up the lion’s share of their time. Adding to this realization are disagreements over child rearing.
  4. 12 years old . Representatives of the science of psychology say that this crisis is the most dangerous, because, like the previous one, it overlaps with the age crisis. Spouses have a revaluation of values, they practically do not communicate with each other, they often quarrel. They no longer have a desire to be around each other. In the place of love and mutual attraction comes irritability and aggression. They are often associated with a lack of intimacy, common interests and hobbies.

The last crisis period begins after 20 years of life together. It arises because of the feeling of emptiness that occurs after the children leave the parental home. Spouses suddenly see that they have nothing to talk about, they do not understand (and do not want to understand) each other’s feelings and emotions.

More information on difficulties by year here.

Difficulties related to children

Family crises that are related to children can be briefly divided into the following :

  • At the birth of the first child;
  • At the birth of the second and subsequent ones;
  • During the children’s adolescence;
  • Marriage/marriage of children.

You can read about the crisis after the birth of a child in detail in this article.

How long do difficulties in the family last?

There is no exact time frame. Each family reacts differently to a relationship crisis. Some take emergency measures. In that case, this period lasts for several weeks or months.

Other couples do not take the problem seriously, due to which the crisis enters a chronic stage. The result is a breakup.

Ways to overcome

Surviving a crisis period is not easy, but, fortunately, it is possible. Psychologists recommend following a number of simple tips:

  1. Do not try to shift the responsibility for what is happening to your partner. In most cases, both spouses are guilty of these problems. Therefore, first of all, you should look at yourself.
  2. Make surprises. Signs of attention like nothing else lift your spirits in difficult times. It is not necessary to buy an expensive gift. The main thing is to show that the person is still needed.
  3. Show gratitude. It is important to say “thank you” for everything that your partner does. And this must be done sincerely, from the heart.
  4. Defuse the situation, distract yourself. Why not, for example, look at common photos. They will help to remember the moments when the family was all good, when the spouses reigned in love and understanding.
  5. Do not forget about sex. Intimacy – one of the building blocks of a strong relationship.

Finally we can talk about a positive attitude. It is important to keep the joy, no matter what the difficulties. Believing in good things will help to cope with all of them.

The development of a joint relationship afterwards.

Normally, the family will cope with all difficulties and move to the next level. Partners will learn :

  1. Communicate with each other;
  2. Talk about their feelings and emotions;
  3. to listen and hear.

But there is another way out of the crisis: separation. It occurs if the husband and wife have failed to come to a common denominator, if all of the above methods of overcoming difficulties were ineffective.

According to specialists, if the decision is made to leave, it is better to do it immediately. Otherwise, as mentioned above, the crisis will become chronic, and nothing but suffering, life together will not bring.


Relationship crises show how much the spouses are willing to fight for the family. They reveal their essence, personality traits and true motives for entering into marriage. If there is true love between the partners, they, albeit not without difficulty, will cope with all the difficulties. And if it’s just a crush or a desire to get back at someone, is it worth the effort to fight?

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