(NEWS CENTER) — As any husband or wife knows, marriages take work as they go through a natural ebb and flow as life changes.
Most spouses experience good times when they feel very connected to their partner and more difficult times where they feel distant from their loved one.
Marriage and family Therapist, Jack Burke says sometimes these ebbs go too far. He says some couples spend years in a trench of marital woes to the point they can not remember why they are together.
Burke says there are three phases of marriage and the goal is to have all three with the same person.
The first phase he calls, 'sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. The couple may feel like it's them against the world, like anything is possible. Often referred to as the honeymoon phase, couples feel like their love is invincible in this early stage of the marriage.
The next phase is the business phase and Burke says this time is all about getting a house, cars, and having kids. He says this phase can go by in a 20 year blur because spouses are so busy.
Burke says during this phase couples may tend to specialize in certain tasks, as a means to get them accomplished. While this may be necessary Burke warns it can create distance in the relationship because one partner just does the kids, or the finances or the house.
Burke says this can lead to a false sense of teamwork because the couple accomplishes much but not together.
The third phase is companions, Burke says this is a nice time to be friends and lovers with your spouse, He says the time from business phase to companion phase is the most dangerous time for couples.
As life slows down from business phase, more time is spent on analysis of the relationship.
Burke says maintaining healthy relationship is the key to making a smooth transition from one phase to another.
If things are not good between your spouse, you have to build the relationship back in small increments, says Burke.
He recommends conversations with your spouse, set at least one time a week time to chat with your partner about their life.
"Practice curiosity and don't assume you know everything about your partner."
Burke says asking your spouse questions and then answering theirs may even help you realize how you have changed.
"If you listen to someone's anger, it gets smaller."
Burke says make sure to clear up resentments so that you can enjoy eachother.