The honeymoon phase. That blissful period in time when everything seems perfect. A time when your partner and you love spending your every waking moment with each other and that feeling of euphoria over virtually everything. A life of bliss where nothing could go wrong.
And then the bubble bursts and you wake up to reality. You begin to wonder if that spell you were under was just a passing phase. So when does that honeymoon period really end?
The Three Phases Of A Relationship
Before we get to solve this million dollar question, it is important that we recognize the three stages in a relationship. The “lust stage” or the “attraction stage” begins when you come to terms with the fact that you really like someone and want to pursue a relationship with them. The duration of this phase is usually short, but could extend if either party were to play hard to get. The “Honeymoon stage,” comes next. Couples in this phase believe they were simply made for each other. Finally, the “Attachment stage”; a long-lasting stage that only “serious couples” manage. Here, every vice and virtue are put to the test and if you do manage to succeed, your relationship will withstand the tests of time.
Is Love Just A Chemical Reaction?
As per a BBC article The Science of Love, during the honeymoon stage, specific hormones are released into the system. These hormones are designed to keep you feeling “more alive” than ever. Some, like Dopamine, are released at levels that make you crave more time with your partner. Others like Norepinephrine (adrenaline) make your heart race and beat faster. And then there is Serotonin that makes you feel like you may be going crazy. Oxytoxin for attachment, and testosterone and estrogen for lust. At this point, you would generally experience an emotion so intense that all you can think about is your partner. The traits we detest fade away like fog.
And it doesn’t end there. The brain then becomes flooded with the neurochemical phenylethylamine, which fosters a positive outlook, diminishes pain, and causes us to feel safe and calm. Phenylethylamine has also been known to motivate people to commit to a relationship. Those who look at other couples who have struggled after marriage are certain they won’t face the same fate. They believe they will defy all odds and that is when…..
The Nightmare Begins – End Of The Honeymoon Period
The super addictive emotional high starts to fade. The butterflies in your stomach stop fluttering as hard as they used to. The unexpected and unpredictable become predictable indeed. The pounding heart rate, that “fiery inferno in your loins,” turns into a slow, warm simmer. The silly cute things your partner did are now plain stupid and irritating. Every vice we overlooked has now come into clear focus and the reprimanding begins. Ego clashes turn out like a football match, where offense and defense come into play.
Many couples enter into a “Power Struggle” and end up either getting divorced or living as roommates instead of soulmates. Those that do survive make a conscious effort to constantly work towards the relationship. This is often achieved by communicating their issues and casting their egos aside and working towards a solution as a team. Compromises are inevitable, but not to the point of endangering one’s core principles.
Welcome to the “Attachment Stage.”
Stick Around or Flee?
OnePoll, a marketing research company specializing in online quantitative research and polling, did a survey on the Honeymoon period. Based on a poll on 5000 couples, this phase lasted an average of two years, six months, and twenty-five days.
Another research was conducted on nearly 400 couples throughout the first two and a half years of their marriages. The study was conducted to decide if marital satisfaction dipped over time. Couples were asked to complete questionnaires about their marital satisfaction. The status of their relationship in intervals of 6, 18, and 30 months after their wedding date was tracked. Information about depressive symptoms, alcoholism, or violence in the relationship was also noted.
14% of men and 10% of women who experienced the honeymoon phase reported a rapid decline in marital happiness after the 30-month mark. Many of them cited feeling “extremely unhappy” in their marriages. But the good news is that over 75% of the couples who had high levels of marriage satisfaction initially didn’t see any decrease throughout the two and a half-year study.
Marriage, like businesses, require constant work and attention to stay afloat. A lasting marriage is usually determined after the hormones have settled – almost never before. The honeymoon phase may not be eternal, but love seems to be.