The Four Seasons of Marriage

by | Feb 20, 2024 | Just Doing Life, Parenting, Relationships, Self Care | 0 comments

There is a local church in town that refers engaged couples to see me for four sessions before they walk down the aisle.

Session one is always easy– Why marriage? How did you meet? When did you fall in love? Tell me about your families? What do you appreciate in your partner? What do you see as potential pitfalls?

But the sessions that follow, we get down to the nitty-gritty. We uncover needs, dreams, and challenges for their upcoming life together. We talk about finances, religion, family conflicts, debt, politics, holidays, sex, children, goals, and expectations for a life-long partner. We dive into issues that if left undiscussed, will become walls and wedges. Some of the sessions get uncomfortable and they must wonder why they came to talk about subjects that can get heated but I’m quick to remind them… if you don’t talk about it now, I guarantee it will come up later in a moment of anger and it won’t be effective or constructive.

At the end of our time together, I always ask if they have any questions for me. Any parting thoughts, fears, or topics they want to discuss. Last week, something happened that has never happened.

I got stumped.

A couple posed a simple question to me that I had never been asked before.

“How long have you been married?” they asked me.

I responded, “Almost 29 years. Phew”.

“Wow”, they smiled. “That’s a long time. That will be like us in 2053”.

We laughed.

“Give us one piece of personal advice from your own marriage to take into our marriage”.

I was perplexed, wanting to give them a good answer but also wanting to be honest and vulnerable. I thought for a second, organizing my thoughts and then I shared my truth:
If a train was coming towards one of my three kids, I would jump on the track and take the train for them any day, any time, without thought or question. If the train was coming towards my husband who I love deeply…. It depends on the day.

They laughed, but then I explained.

Everyone is going to tell you that marriage is hard. We all know that, nothing enlightening there. But what they don’t tell you is that you go through different seasons after you say I Do. Being married is a constant state of transition- both figuratively and emotionally. Just as in nature, we experience spring, summer, winter, and fall within our marriage. As a couple, we transition from one season to another, not necessarily in any order. You need to be prepared and ready to understand that every relationship, no matter how deeply in love you are today, will experience these four seasons. You must be ready to dig in–when needed- to get through a season that feels especially difficult. You have to be ready to dance during the easy seasons and work through the hard ones. You must trust another season lies ahead.

Spring is the season when your marriage has new life. We enjoy each other, the relationship feels fresh, positive, and hopeful. You think: How exciting we get to create a home, a family, a life together. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for us. Then, there is summer when everything is relaxed, easy and fun. We have all the warm feels for our partner. You think: I am so in love and I am so lucky. But just like in nature, after summer comes fall and it’s the season of transition. This is when we feel uncertain, discouraged, disconnected and unsure about what is ahead. You think: Do they appreciate me? Are we happy? Where is this relationship going? How do we connect?

And then there is winter. No one wants to be in winter, but we have all been there. The winter season is cold, bitter, silent, and harsh. Let’s be honest, winter sucks but it is also inevitable. You will go through winter at some point. No relationship is perfect. The natural inclination during this season is to withdraw and avoid the painful elements, so we feel isolated and alone. You think: We are living on islands. They drive me crazy. I don’t know if I want to do this anymore. I’m not happy. Are we going to make it?

Here is what I want you to remember– no season lasts forever. The cycle of seasons repeats itself many times throughout the life of marriage. Be open with each other about what season you think you are in. Don’t be afraid to be honest if it feels like you both are in different seasons. Use the metaphor to communicate about where you are as a couple and help you create what you need to move out of one season and into another. Seasons come and go, and each one allows us to grow and nurture each other. A lasting relationship learns from each season and prepares the couple for the next. Marriage is about two people who chose to love each other, even on days when they struggle to like each other.

Love one another, be respectful, be kind, be forgiving of one another and understand the seasons.

That’s it. That’s all I have, I told them.

I hope one day, in 2053, that sweet couple looks back on past 29 years and embrace the seasons that got them to where they are and allowed them to chase one of life’s biggest adventures together.



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