The Four Seasons of Marriage
The first season of marriage is summer. Just like our weather outside right now, things are hot in summer. The birds are singing, everything is in full bloom, and everything is beautiful. Things are sizzling. That's what it's like in a relationship when it's first starting out. We fall madly in love with our partner and everything is perfect and they can do no wrong and all we see is the good. Remember those days? That is summer. Some of you may be in that stage right now. Unfortunately, a lot of people think the entire marriage is going to be summer. Then, when the seasons change they can make all sorts of false conclusions on what that means, which I'll discuss later. You see summer in weddings a lot. Think about the last wedding you went to and how the couple gazed into each other's eyes, whispered sweet nothings into each other's ears, and couldn't stop touching each other. Things couldn't get better!
Just like our weather pattern, after summer comes fall. Unless you live in Hawaii or somewhere in the tropics, when it turns fall, things start to cool down. The leaves start falling off the trees. You have to start wearing thicker clothes because it's starting to get chilly. Likewise in marriage. This may be the first time you've moved in together after marriage or maybe you've been together for a few years and the honeymoon period is starting to fade away. For the first time you're starting to see flaws in your partner that you never noticed, or you did notice in the beginning but you overlooked them because you were madly in love. Maybe they're not meeting your needs as well as they did in the beginning. Maybe they're starting to annoy you. Maybe you're starting to have some resentment creep in because you're not resolving conflicts well. You're still in love with them but the volume knob on feeling in love has been turned down. If couples don't take care of fall and address the cracks in the foundation that are starting to creep in, a lot of couples will drift from fall right into winter.
Just like our weather outside, when it turns to winter, things become frigid. It starts snowing, the trees look dead, and the birds are all gone. It's dreary. Not surprisingly, many people get depressed in winter because of the lack of sunlight and activity. This is a very dismal time and likewise in marriage. When a couple goes through winter, they don't feel in love anymore. They usually resent each other. They have a lot of conflict that is unresolved. Their needs are definitely not being met and they're unhappy. If you're not careful, this is where you can start drawing false conclusions, such as "I must have married the wrong person, I'm never going to be happy, I'm wasting my life, etc" Those are some of the tempting conclusions we can draw when we're in winter if we don't know about the seasons of marriage. That's why this is so important because if you know you're in winter, you know that winter is a normal part of the seasons of marriage. It doesn't mean you want to stay there because it's very unpleasant. However, it gives you a different perspective. All couples go through winter at some point in their marriage, so when you do, if you're wise, you'll do whatever it takes to dig deeper. This is where you need to start receiving help from an outside counselor or trusted friends. Your relationship needs help. It's dying. You need to learn to work through your conflicts, how to meet each other's needs effectively, how to communicate better, how to spend more quality time together, etc. Your relationship needs a lot of work during winter so you have to dig in and give it the time and energy it needs. If you do that, you can come out of winter and go into spring.
And just like our weather pattern spring is when the warmth starts to come back. The trees start to bloom again, flowers sprout, and wonderful fragrances are in the air. The grass is getting greener. Likewise in our marriage, when we go through spring, the warmth and the in love feelings start coming back. Our needs start to be met more. We start resolving conflict and we start feeling more positive towards our partner again because we're feeling better in the relationship. We start falling back in love.
In sum, it's vital that you know all marriages go through the four seasons of marriage so that when they hit you're prepared. What season are you in now? Are you in spring? Are you in summer? Or, are you in fall or winter? When I ask couples at my marriage conference this question, sometimes one partner will think they're in summer and the other will think they're in winter. Don't be alarmed if that happens. That's why we're talking about this. It's a great way to put words to where you're at and what you're feeling. The follow-up question is, if you are in fall or winter, what do you need to do to move to the next season of spring or summer? What would that look like for you? What does your relationship need more of? What does it need less of? What type of help does it need? Create a plan, gather the needed resources, then dig in until progress is made.
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