Before you set out on your journey of marriage wouldn't it be wise to investigate what marriage is really all about.

If you were buying a car, house or furniture you would look into the different styles, makes and models wouldn't you. Marriage is not any different, but it is not planned obsolescence as man made product are. If it goes bad, fails, falls apart, ends before its time it is the fault of the originators and not someone or something else.

So how do you learn about marriage? You study it like you would history. You look at the stages of marriage each in its own frame and find the faults so that your marriage doesn't fall into the same faults.

The first stage of a marriage starts on the day you pledge your love and life to each other. It matters not whether you have a fancy church wedding with all the trimmings, or you stand before a justice of the peace. The size of the guest list has no barring on the marriage. The size of the ring has no barring on the marriage. The dress or the wedding cake, the pictures none of this has to do with the marriage.

Once you have exchanged the vows the marriage begins and nothing or no one should have a bearing on what happens from that moment on, except the two of you. This first stage is when guide lines should be set on what the rest of your life together will be run by, how each feels about your sex life, your work, your feelings about children. It is also the time to discuss how other family members desires will affect your relationship. The old Mother In law syndrome.

More marriages are ruined by outside interference from family members trying to tell you how you should lead your new life. If you don't join together to prevent this becoming a problem at the out set it is sure to creep in later.

There are three major things that bring a marriage to an end; Finances, Sex, Fidelity. so in the first stage of marriage would it not be prudent to discuss these matters when issues about them arise. The big word that will aid in coming to agreement here is compromise. Learn to compromise on both sides of any matter and a solution can be reached.

Now that you understand what you are facing and what you need to do enjoy your marriage. The longer the honeymoon last the greater pleasure you both will have. I don't mean the honeymoon you take right after the ceremony, I refer to the feeling of elation that you get when you come together after being away from each other for work or travel. That feeling of joy you get when you hug and kiss after a day of not seeing each other.

This initial stage should last until you reach the seventh year of marriage. During that time you will be making a life together with children, pets, maybe a home of your own. You will have discussions that may become arguments, you will not always agree on what to do with children or if you want children. You may not agree on the type of work or whether you should change careers. These are all phases of the first stage and how you handle them will determine if the marriage will continue.

The second stage of marriage comes when the honeymoon is over. The time when you know longer greet each other with a kiss and a hug. When supper becomes left overs because there was no time to cook, when work comes first, when priorities change. When sex is a once in awhile thing. When the the cute little Teddi is now a flannel nightgown.

Now is when you have to work harder at making a marriage work. Now is when you have to reflect back to the decisions you made during stage one of your marriage and try to find the time when everything changed and why. If you fail to take the time together to do this it could be the beginning of the end and you will never reach the next stage.

Experience in this matter is what gives me the incite to some of the causes of the change. Maybe they are what caused your marriage to change.

When you first were married you everything was new and exciting. Even if you were having sex before you got married now the danger of unwanted pregnancy was gone, you could be freer and experiment. You had your whole life to live together and you couldn't believe anything would change how you felt.

You were young and had jobs and the money may not have been a lot but you managed to make ends meet. You had the future to make more money get better jobs. You still went out with friends and enjoyed life. There was always tomorrow to get things done.

Suddenly life took a change. A job was not a guarantee, the car needed repair, the house or apartment needed some work or seemed to small. your friends were moving up and maybe you weren't.

Your first child was born. medical bills began to pile up, your nerves began to fray, you felt trapped, no one seemed to care about you. How did it come to this?

Stage two is the hardest part of marriage to get through. It brings out the best and the worst in you both. If you are not ready for it if will tear you life and your marriage apart piece by piece. For a marriage to survive stage two take all of your efforts, compromise, and willingness to forgive mistakes. You must learn to fight the urge to blame, to criticise, to be jealous, and most of all to flee.

Stage three, if you make it that far, is when you learn to accept each other and the faults neither of your think you have. You change from nagging about the cost of phone calls, shopping and time with friends to accepting that these things are necessary.

You accept that he will sometimes be late, that she may not have done the laundry or cleaned the kitchen today. Instead of making a fuss about it offer to help out. There is nothing that says a man can't do the dishes or do a load of laundry.

There is no name on the vacuum cleaner that it is the wife's and she is the only one that can run it. The rake and the mower work in the hands of a woman and a man. Changing a diaper is not only a woman's work. Okay the stinky ones are just for women.

If instead of making a big thing of what isn't done think how it feels on the other side. Was it not done to spite you but because something else came up or things just got to be too much.

When you learn to resolve these issues by talking instead of screaming you may just get through to stage four.

Stage four comes when the children, if there were any, have left the home and it is just the two of you again. if you have managed to survive the first three stages it is reward time. Even if you were not able to make a huge amount of money over the years, what you have now is each other just like in the beginning. Now is the time to renew the lust for living and each other. Thanks to modern medicine your sex life could be renewed. You may have the time to enjoy life again. You have made it, you can look back and laugh at the mistakes you made, the challenges you faced, the sorrows you endured, stupidity shown, and the happiness you shared.

How you arrive at stage four will be determined by how you handle the other three stages, make plans before you start and the stages will be easier. Not everyone will be a June Cleaver, but not everyone has to be a Cramer vs Cramer either.