As the heightened emotions that once accompanied our love fade, we could find ourselves in a place of disillusion, we do not know or understand what is happening, where have all the feelings gone? Will they return? Did we do anything to make love leave? Is it possible that I may have married the wrong person?

This second stage is sometimes referred to as the disenchantment stage, primarily at this point we begin to notice more sharply the weaknesses of our partners. What we once referred to as the uniqueness in our mate, we now term difference.

In fact, the major things that attracted us to our spouses become the very thing that begins to annoy us; ‘he is a quiet person\’ turns to ‘he is very boring to be around\’, ‘he is patient and takes his time to make decisions\’ turns to ‘he is slow and laidback\’, ‘she is very friendly and outgoing\’ becomes ‘she talks too much and doesn\’t know how to keep a secret\’, ‘I love her because she can do ‘shakara\’ becomes ‘she is arrogant or full of herself\’.

Love is a two-sided coin, it always has support and challenge. Support their strengths that will always endear our partners to us and challenge is that part of our partners that forces us to grow, be more accommodating and gracious.

 I was in senior secondary school when I accompanied my Pastor to visit a newly wedded couple and he told them something I haven\’t forgotten since then, he said; ‘you have loved each other for the strengths and similarities you share, now you will begin a new journey to love each other in spite of your weaknesses\’.

Very rarely do you meet people in relationship glorying in their difference, they often talk about what both of them like or share in common. It\’s one of the ways I am able to guess even before being told how long a couple has been together.

As the first stage of love comes to an end we begin to notice more of the differences that exist between us. At first, we try to deny it, ignore it and/or tolerate it in other to avoid conflicts. What we once saw and called uniqueness, we now refer to it as differences.

When this is no longer possible we begin to try eliminating our differences by demanding that our partners think and act like us, we demand change, pressuring and manipulating our spouses. At the heart of this behaviour could either be a fear that our spouses\’ difference will require that we lose ourselves or it could be as a result of a belief that ‘if it is different, it is wrong\’

Some couples get stoked at this point, they are unable to allow themselves see the beauty in their partner\’s difference and become entrenched in trying to change their spouse believing that that is the key to having the happiness they desire.

When we choose to learn to appreciate the difference in our partners, we discover that these differences are necessary and indispensable. We become willing to grow and encourage their growth as well.

We finally come to realize that we actually married the right person, the person that has all the similarity and differences we were consciously or unconsciously looking for to compliment us and help us grow.

‘In a mysterious, intuitive, perhaps instinctive fashion we are drawn by both similarities and differences, needs and anxieties, by dreams and fears to choose our complement, our reflection in another.\’- Norman Wright

We always marry the right person, and the discovery of this leads to a deep appreciation for our partners and we begin to value what we sort to eliminate.

Right at this point, we move to the third stage in the growth of our love. The place of maturity and a love that is a choice- our choice. This maturity also helps us to come to the place of self-understanding and self-acceptance.

A love that feelings alone become inadequate to express and explain is born, it is not as dramatic and exciting as the first stage but it is defiantly more reliable and longer lasting.

This is how a fulfilling marriage is born.

Sometimes now, am begging my husband not to take a job out of town so he can stay with us to no avail, yet I know he loves me even more than when he walked out of his examination to come to see me.

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