Last semester in one of my classes, we learned about the Model of Interaction Stages created by Mark Knapp and Anita Vangelisti in 2000. This model shows how communication progresses relationships and the entire time we were learning about it, I couldn't help but relate each of the stages to relationships in my life, especially mine and Joe's. Obviously we always want to stay in the relational maintenance stages and never end up in the coming apart ones, but the coming together stages were a lot of fun!
Initiating - The first communication, light conversation or small talk that help a couple determine if they are interested in each other and if their is a possibility for the relationship to progress.
Even though Joe and I knew who each other was before we officially met, this stage of the relationship happened one night during a weekly scripture study class for our area and I think we both knew quickly that we wanted to get to know each other better.
Experimenting - The couple asks questions to determine if they have enough in common to be a good fit and pursue the relationship further.
The same night that Joe and I met, we became Facebook friends and talked on FB for a while, the next day we text each other a little bit, he accepted an invite to come watch scary movies with a group of my friends. The next day he came to a church activity that I invited him to, we talked a lot while we were there and then we spent a few hours afterward texting again and he didn't waste any time telling me that he wanted to get to know me even better and see where our relationship would go.
Intensifying - Communication between the couple is deeper, they reveal more details about themselves to each other and become more affectionate with each other. The first few weeks that we were dating, Joe and I spent a lot of time walking around town, holding hands and telling each other all about our lives. We had our first date, our first kiss, spent a lot of time cuddling on the couch and couldn't seem to get enough time together. When we weren't able to be together in person, we were texting or on the phone.
Integrating - Solidifying the couple's relationship status with a formal announcement to friends and family either in person and//or on a social media site. This may include beginning to use pronouns like us and we.
One night I applied to be Joe's girlfriend, it was a really funny story actually. that same night, we made our relationship "Facebook official". Our relationship continued to progress from there and before we knew it, we were talking about getting married and had gotten engaged and began to plan our wedding.
Bonding - A formal, legal declaration of the couple's commitment to each other. This most often happens in the form of a wedding or commitment ceremony. Obviously that happened for us!!
Joe and I keep communication open, keep our marriage as a priority and make sure to put effort into our relationship every day so that we never start to drift toward the coming apart stages of a relationship because we know that's not an option for us.
What stage of your relationship are you in? What is your favorite of the coming together stages?