Q. You mentioned the different phases couples go through in their marriage. What are some of the common changes couples experience besides sex?
Western culture values stability over a lifetime. We want to stay the same, but research actually suggests our personalities are shifting over our entire lifespans.
Expect that we are going to be changing in really fundamental ways. Not just in “I really like this restaurant,” or “My taste in magazines is shifting.” It can be a really deep, deep change in terms of who we are as people.
Personality changes are a normal thing to expect. Changes in values, changes in spiritual or religious belief. Those are also really normal, really common things couples can expect to occur. Even if couples are starting off with the same religion, a lot of people will find that one spouse eventually decides they don’t believe anymore and stops practicing that religion or they believe it differently than they did when they were first married.
Certainly when couples have children there are enormous changes. Research is really clear that while a lot of people find great meaning in having children, their quality of life takes a huge dive while they are having children and raising them. That’s something to expect.
I think if couples are expecting that those changes will happen, they are a little bit less distressing when they do happen.