Family Life-Cycle Stages

1141 words | 4 page(s)

Family Life-Cycle comprises the emotional and intellectual stages that individuals go through from childhood to the retirement age. These stages are; Single adulthood, committed long-term relationships, becoming parents, divorce/relationship termination and remarriage/re-partnering and Older adulthood. At each stage, there are transitions that may be challenging but that allow one to acquire and develop new skills. These skills enable one to go through the transformations that all families must go through. However, all families do not go through transitions similarly or easily. Issues like financial challenges, severe illness or death of a family member bears significant effects on how well one goes from one stage to the other.

This paper analyzes common sexuality-related transitions at each stage. It also examines how research and theory characterize positive sexual functioning during each stage. In the end, there will be a brief description on how the author might intervene to assist clients from a Psychology practice point of view using the information gathered.

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Describe two common sexuality-related transitions or concerns at each stage.

Single Adulthood
Sexual beliefs incorporate individual, religious, philosophical and ideological perspectives. Today, there are more single adults and adults who live a single lifestyle by choice than there were in the past. There is a heightened pursuit of educational and career prospects in order to keep up with the economic challenges. As a result, adults get married later in life (Rossi, 1994). Single men that remain voluntary un-attached or unmarried stay away from any committed relationships in terms of quality of longevity (Rossi, 1994). They are thus at a high risk of engaging in indiscriminate or risky sexual behavior which makes them susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases. Women unintentionally get pregnant because they are sexually active outside of committed relationships. They may also form intimate companionate relationships with other women (Rossi, 1994).

Committed, long-term relationships
In committed relationships, each partner is required to channel their sexual desire and energy exclusively to their partner. However, there may be the issue of sexual boredom and infidelity. Sexual boredom gets accompanied by insensible hostility due to unrealistic expectations, inhibitions and guilt. If the relationship is that of marriage, it may result in divorce.

Becoming parents
When young couples become parents, they experience a disrupted sex life. Women focus their energy on their child, leading their partner to feel neglected. The man may get concerned about the physical and emotional changes of their partner while women may not feel attractive enough to have sex.

Divorce/relationship termination and remarriage/re-partnering
The sexual attitudes among divorced people and among those that have terminated their relationships are more permissive than those among married and single people (Ellis & Abarbanel, 2013). Additionally, a marriage or intimate sexual relationship that went wrong translates into a deteriorated sex life (Ellis & Abarbanel, 2013). Divorced people or those just out of a relationship will rush to repair an emotionally painful period in the process of seeking validation and love (Ellis & Abarbanel, 2013). They are vulnerable at this stage as they may settle for anything that may pass off as love to reassure themselves of desirability. Sexuality in remarriage or re-partnering may be motivated mostly by the need for acceptance and security in women. Men may desire to re-establish physical contact in remarriage. These reasons are not limited to the respective gender as each motivation can and does apply in both cases.

Older adulthood
Sexuality concerns and transitions in older adulthood include a decreased sexual desire and a presence of desire but an inability to perform. Decreased sexual desire is attributed to erectile dysfunction in men and menopause in women. These factors in turn cause stress, fatigue and boredom (DeLamater & Karraker, 2009).
Provide two examples of how research and theory characterize positive sexual functioning during each stage.

Single adulthood
Sexual functioning may be influenced by factors representing psychological, biological and social environments interaction (Ellis & Abarbanel, 2013). Positive sexual functioning in single adulthood is enhanced by virility and desire devoid of inhibitions that come with a committed relationship (Ellis & Abarbanel, 2013). In single adulthood, there is relative positive sexual self-awareness that may contribute to positive sexual functioning as opposed to during adolescence. In the adolescent stage, there are a lot of uncertainties which lead to unhealthy sexual functions.

Committed, long-term relationships
Committed long-term relationships offer a sense of security due to reciprocated love which contributes positively to sexual function (Ellis & Abarbanel, 2013). Long-term relationships also offer both the benefit of meaningful intimacy and sexual pleasure in a safe environment. It avoids the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and recklessness where both partners are committed and faithful to one another.

Becoming parents
When becoming parents, the couple tends to be strapped for time to pay attention to each other’s sexual needs, albeit temporarily. At this stage, positive sexual function is enhanced by a need to be more creative in allocating time for sex. The sexual experience is different from before parenthood as it is more qualitative, mainly for the purpose of reconnecting and intimacy (Frayser & Whitby, 1995).

Divorce/relationship termination and remarriage/re-partnering
Divorce and termination of a relationship motivates a need for introspection. Divorced individuals or those who have terminated their relationships are open to embrace change and new, better opportunities. A positive outlook on life that signifies a fresh start translates into better sexual function (Frayser & Whitby, 1995). When an ideal partner is met as a result of re-partnering and remarriage, the result is a satisfying sexual life that is characterized by acceptance and new beginnings.

Older adulthood
Older adults usually have already gone through the milestones of parenting and relationship challenges. Positive changes in older adulthood sexual function can be attributed to increased sexual agency (DeLamater & Karraker, 2009). Older adults have a better capacity to make independent sexual choices devoid of influence or coercion. A sense of agency cultivates confidence that is necessary for positive sexual function. Older adults are not worried about getting pregnant which offers a sense of freedom to have sex at whatever time they please (DeLamater & Karraker, 2009).

Briefly describe how you might intervene or use this information to assist clients.
I would use the information to help clients understand that the challenges that they may face during any stage of the family are temporary and rectifiable. I would advise them to take charge of, and make helpful decisions concerning their sexual well-being so as to promote both their health and the health of their partner. For example, I would assist the divorced in getting back to the place of positive self-identity before seeking out other relationships.

  • DeLamater, J., & Karraker, A. (2009). Sexual Functioning in Older Adults. Retrieved from http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~delamate/pdfs/CPR11-1-1-01.pdf
  • Ellis, A., & Abarbanel, A. (Eds.). (2013). The Encyclopaedia of Sexual Behaviour (Vol. 1). Elsevier.
  • Frayser, S. G., & Whitby, T. J. (1995). Studies in human sexuality: a selected guide. Libraries unlimited.
  • Rossi, A. S. (Ed.). (1994). Sexuality across the life course. University of Chicago Press.

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