The marital stage of developmental . The first task is to find another person who is willing to enter into marriage, second, for both parties make the decision to get married. The third task is to successfully negotiate a marriage relationship without significant psychological disengagement (or a psychological divorce to differentiate from a divorce in the legal sense).
This disengagement would usually be seen to occur after 5 to 10 years of marriage
The three main reasons in that time frame are:
1. Any significant scarring of the Free Child ego state has occurred
The Free Child is the most sensitive aspect of the personality. It is where we experience intimacy, vulnerability, closeness and the other sensitive emotions. It provides us with the ability to be truly human and allows us to obtain the most health promoting and rich positive strokes that we can receive.
However, as it is so sensitive it is also the most susceptible to ‘assault’ and it can be damaged easily. The assault can be physical when we are hit but more often it is harmed by some kind of verbal attack on the Free Child. If we are made fun of, discounted, involved in conflict, ignored or verbally abused in some kind of way it is the Free Child aspect of our personality that is most effected. One of the most basic responses the Free Child has to such offensive communication is to run away. We will automatically hide or defend that part of ourself if we perceive such assault is occurring or think that such things may happen. The Free Child is a quick learner in this way.
This is a good response in that we protect the most sensitive aspect of ourself from being hurt and future damage. On the down side, if hidden away, then we loose the ability to be sensitive in our communication with that person.
In a marriage two people are living in close quarters, day after day for years at a time. It is inevitable there will be times of conflict, feeling hurt, doing unthinking things which adversely effect the FC of the other party, abandoning the other and so on. As a result this will happen as shown in the diagram.
It is inevitable the Free Child of both parties will retreat into hiding in a marriage over time. It is not a matter of if it will happen but how much it will happen. In most instances it is not to severe so as to destroy the quality of the marriage in any significant way. To successfully negotiate this stage of human development the Free Child will not retreat significantly.
It is quite easy to ascertain if this has happened. Imagine that your husband (or wife) was not your husband, you were not married to him, you had never had any romantic love for him, you did not have children, there was no financial connection but he was just a person you knew as a friend. If this was the case would you seek him out to spend time with, would you enjoy his company and want to be with him when socializing?
The more you answer yes to this question the more the relationship still has significant Free Child to Free Child contact. Clearly there is more to a marriage then just FC to FC contact. However if the marriage has it then both parties are motivated to be together, enjoy each other and have that ‘spark’ together in the relationship. This is a very good thing to maintain in a marriage. To successfully complete this stage of development in adulthood the FC to FC contact is maintained to a significant degree. If there is going to be a significant reduction in FC to FC transactions then it will usually have happened in the first 5 to 10 years of marriage.
When the Free Child part of us has been hurt it will automatically withdraw to safety even if we consciously try to avoid doing so.
2. Any psychological agendas have now been fully developed
3. Any difficulties are now fully habituated
Successful completion of this stage of adulthood is to have not obtained a psychological divorce from the marital partner. In the psychology of the individual he and/or she remains psychologically engaged with the partner. The level of psychological disengagement has not reached a point of significance.