Love in six easy stages?

Love in six easy stages?

Conventionally, a husband is the breadwinner, the provider, the decision maker, the strong back and arms. And the shoulder to cry on. He gets hot meals when he comes home in the evening and sex on demand.

The wife, on the other hand, is the housekeeper, the baby-maker, the cook and the nurturer. If she’s appreciated, she gets cash gifts and presents and tenderness. Even if he is unable to find work and she brings home the income, her husband takes charge of the relationship and plots its course. Even with these set rules, all marriages have their ups and downs and a renewed psychologist called Kohlberg has checked out the word ‘love’ under his microscope and came up with the six stages of love.


Stage one: He calls the flimsiest bonds where sex equals an individual’s pleasure with no thought for the victim. This can be predatory or manipulative in nature and is devoid of interpersonal exchange. Rape would fall into this category.


Stage two: Uses as economic exchange only and at this level is mutual first benefit derived. Prostitution and pornography buy and sell sex and it is claimed, reduces women to such sexual essentials. Arranged marriages, dynastic or cultural, allow gender differences to be marketed.


Stage three: Sees sex as an expression of ‘Love’ with the focus on feeling. The conventional good guy or girl are assumed to be trapped at this stage by the line “if you love me you should not do this” (marry me, have sex, etc).


Stage four: Is called legal, where social order is predominant. Responsibility for sexual misdeeds are referred to prevailing codes of right or wrong. This can be Bantu or New York society, punk or white collar lovers. Sexual experimentation may be encouraged in one and frowned upon in the other.


Stage five: Mutual Contractual Obligations suggest that right or wrong (sexually speaking) is applicable only between the two involved. Therefore this code would suggest that adultery is wrong less because of economic, (stage 2) feeling, (stage three) or legal, (stage 4) considerations but because it violates a trust. Loyalty is the lynchpin of this second highest order with stage six as fidelity to conscience which transcends interpersonal considerations.


Kohlberg then explains his observations further by saying that: “Early on in a relationship, this sexual reasoning is not obvious but later, when conflict arise, the way a person reasons about fidelity, (from getting away with an affair at stage one, to ‘can’t help it’ at stage three where feeling is more important, breaking up the family unit at stage four to family destroying the partner’s trust at stage five) can be important in understanding breakdown in marriage and the trauma one person feels to another’s apparent indifference.


“A more jaundiced view of commitment sees marriages (or similar) as a romantic investment. Commitment is a function of (one) what a relationship gives: (two) what alternatives are available and (three) the size of investment in it. “Love,” explained Kohlberg, “is an unstable sea at the best of times. Commitment implies that ballast brought on board has set the ship of romance on an even kneel.

However, stormy winds may blow and even the most seasoned sailors are apt to get a but seasick. This theory predicts which ones will stay the course…”


So there you are, after reading the Kohlberg theories, you should be able to pin down your relations to one or more of the six stages of love.


Bunmi Sofola

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