Let’s look at the stages of development in a love relationship and where potential point of “divorce” or leaving the relationship for couple who couldn’t successfully transit to the next stage:
This is the initial coming together where the style of loving is Eros (or commonly known as Passionate Love). The couple will experience infatuation and a feeling of being drawn to become one with the other person. Love is experienced as sacrifice. The characteristic of the love relationship at this stage is one of deep-seated needs being met, falling of barriers of coming together, and a desire for continuation of the relationship.
The First "Divorce" Point
What happens when people stay in this stage: Co-dependency.
Motivation for moving to next stage: Desire for continuation and stability.
2. Forming Union
This is the stage where the couple develops and maintains the structures and roles in the relationship. The style of loving is Storge (or commonly known as Affectionate Love). The couple will experience a sense of familiarity and domesticity. The characteristic of the love relationship at this stage is one of adjusting to differences and establishing roles.
The Second "Divorce" Point
What happens when people stay in this stage: Roles rigidify. Same-sex friendships rival marriage.
Motivation for moving to the next stage : Desire for opposite-sex intimacy, community
3. Forging Common Values/Unity
This is the Philia (or friendship) stage where there’s an emphasis on common purpose, goals, and values. This is where couple develops like-mindedness. The characteristic of the love relationship at this stage is one of common values and building “family” ties.
The Third "Divorce" Point
What happens when people stay in this stage: Conventional marriage and community continues; work and parenting drive the relationship.
Motivation for moving to the next stage: Desire for personal exploration and discovery in work and love.
4. Developing Individuality Within Unity
This is the stage where the couple, having the foundation of the secure love relationship, began their growth of diversity. There is recognition of the couple’s varied talents and each person taking individual responsibility for their individual’s needs. The characteristic of relationship is one of mutual encouragement to grow. Personal changes are welcomed not threatening, and individualistic, unconventional lifestyles are accepted.
The Fourth "Divorce" Point
What happens when people stay in this stage: Experiments become manipulative rather than shared adventures. Quest for individuality sours into self-centered lifestyle.
Motivation for moving to the next stage: Sense that a deeper kind of intimacy awaits beyond self-actualization.
5. Developing True Unity
This is what is called Agape Love (or Unconditional Love). At this stage, the couple has unconditional love that lives well with tension and paradox of strong unity of strong individuals. The characteristic of this stage of love is one of acceptance of each other’s vulnerability, development of new form of non-manipulative communication, and the rise of intimacy based on increase in both mystery and knowledge of the other person.
As can be seen from the above outlined process, the giddy “in love” passionate feeling dominates mainly the first stage of the love relationship. It needs to step back and let other love styles come in in order for the relationship to develop into a deeper love. People who don’t understand this will embark in an endless pursuit of the thrill of passionate love and never experience the fulfillment of the deeper Agape love. Couple who successfully maneuvers through these various stages will be able to have a stable and healthy love relationship.