Book Club: Fiction to Reality, Cedar Cove, Couple, Uncategorized, veteran

Family Life Cycle & Couple Relationship: What Does Cedar Cove Teach Us? (Part 1)

Family Life Cycle Theory (Reuben Hill, 1949): Stage 1: Leaving home: Single young adultsfamily Life Cycle

 

Just as each individual goes through the developmental cycle and requires to complete developmental tasks (Erikson, 1959), each family also go through its own developmental cycle and requires to complete their tasks at each stage. The family life cycle starts with an adult emancipate from his/her family of origin and starts to date. As Erikson’s developmental stage identifies, the important tasks for the young adults in their 20s are to form the intimate relationship, which is the beginning of the family life cycle. Other important tasks for the young adults are to learn to be independent financially and personally from their families of origin, which are important foundations for the family.

Just as each individual goes through the developmental cycle and requires to complete developmental tasks (Erikson, 1959), each family also go through its own developmental cycle and requires to complete their tasks at each stage. The family life cycle starts with an adult emancipate from his/her family of origin and starts to date. As Erikson’s developmental stage identifies, the important tasks for the young adults in their 20s are to form the intimate relationship, which is the beginning of the family life cycle. Other important tasks for the young adults are to learn to be independent financially and personally from their families of origin, which are important foundations for the family.

Issues:
The theories that use “stages” to describe the development often emphasize the importance of complete the tasks from the previous stages in order to build the foundation for the next stage. In order to successfully form the intimate relationship, it is important that the individuals are able to find out who they are as a person and have acquired the skills of manage one’s life, such as finances, time, interests, interpersonal relationships, etc.

It is without saying that the young adults often enters into therapy to deal with their career choices and intimate relationship issues as they are learning to be independent of their family of origin if they have not yet established those tasks in their teenage years.

In addition, a lot of young couples also enters therapy at this period of the time if they have formed the relationship earlier on. Clinically, I have seen a lot of young couples in the early 20s or mid-20s but have been in the relationship for over 5 years because they started dating in high school. They entered therapy because they have gone through many personal changes in the past few years and their relationships also have gone through a lot of changes. Some of them already have children together but not married. As the result, they have a lot of history to consider before deciding to end or to continue the relationship.

A lot of times, these young adults are in their process of figuring out who they are while also going through the stages as the “new couple.” It often led to a lot of interpersonal conflicts such as time and financial management issues that escalated when they are in their mid-20s.

Cedar Cove Examples: Randall
Cecilia and Ian Randall are the typical examples in the clinical settings. Both of them were in their young adulthood. In the book, it is very clear that Cecilia has had unfinished issues with her father and moved from NH to WA in order to search for that part of the identity. They got pregnant very soon, even before they were able to form their “couplehood.” With Ian being in the Navy and his deployment, it is become harder for them o establish that boundary with their environment. As the result, when the “trauma,” losing their daughter at birth, strikes, they didn’t have enough foundation to handle the grief together, which resulted in their separation.

This is certainly an extreme case in terms of the trauma they went through. Clinically, there are many young individuals who went through their individual trauma while searching for their own identity. For example, some people might experience losing grandparents, parental divorce etc.. In these situations, how can one partner support each other through grief while handling personal developmental tasks often lead to the conflicts between the partners.

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