chapter  8
LIFE STAGES AND COUPLES
Pages 26

Although raising a family is not an essential quality of couplehood, sharing what can often be a particularly joyful burden is one of the most common uniting characteristics for many couples. A majority of couples, including many same-sex couples, form at least in part for the purpose of having and bringing up a family, a period that occupies a signi˜cant proportion of one’s active life, as children grow from babyhood through childhood to adolescence and beyond and eventually, in a majority of cases, becoming parents themselves. is means that a large proportion of couples are not a discrete unit but a subset of the larger unit that is a family, especially because creating children and working together to help them grow to adulthood often enhances or complicates the ties between the adult members of their couple and their own parents, siblings, and wider family group. Because making the shift from couple to family means taking a huge step into the unknown, it is not surprising that rifts and tensions between couples so often emerge-for example, when a couple decides to try for a baby, around the birth of a ˜rst or subsequent child, or when children reach their own important life stages, such as starting school, entering adolescence, or leaving home.