For better or worse, love, relationship, and marriage have been highly romanticized around the world. As a result, many people have developed unrealistic notions about them. Relationships Go Through Seasons Too! The fairy tales and fantasy novels that only show the good, sweet side of relationships and avoid addressing disagreements, conflicts, confrontations, and fights play a key role in forming these idealistic expectations.
However, in reality, relationships are not all sunshine and rainbows. Every relationship has its fair share of ups and downs, unique challenges, and different kinds of struggles. There are disagreements, arguments, and disputes. There are moments of love and happiness, making you feel like you are in eternal bliss. Other times, you may think your partner does not love you the same anymore, or they have changed. There may even be times when you feel withdrawn and wonder whether your decision to get married was right.
However, these are not necessarily signs of unhealthy or bad relationships. Just like life and nature, a relationship goes through different phases and seasons too. Developing a healthy relationship requires understanding the different seasons your relationship can go through and standing by your partner through them all.
Why Is It Important To Understand The Seasons Of Relationship?
We all like to believe in the idea of love and marriage created by fantasy novels and Hollywood movies. In reality, however, the honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever. Every relationship includes disagreements, conflicts, arguments, and heartbreaks. And it’s only natural to have these ups and downs. However, to build a strong relationship that can stand the test of time, you need to understand the seasons a relationship goes through. When you know that it’s natural for you and your partner to feel differently at different times and your relationship will evolve with time, you will be able to keep your cool and hold onto your relationship when things are not ideal.
Also, when you know that your relationship will go through different phases and things may not always be perfect, you will (try to) figure out ways to successfully make it through. You will invest time and effort in learning how to reduce, if not prevent, conflicts and heartbreak as your relationship goes through various seasons.
Like weather forecast helps you prepare for an upcoming weather changes, knowledge about the seasons of a relationship will help you prepare for what lies ahead.
Embracing the seasons and the changes they bring in your relationship is essential for creating healthy and fulfilling relationships. It helps you grow together and not let anything weaken the bond you and your partner share.
The Four Seasons of a Relationship
For understanding, the seasons of a relationship can be equated with the four seasons found in nature:
Spring represents the ideas of renewal, rebirth, resurrection, rejuvenation, and regrowth. It also represents the birth of a new relationship. It is the season for knowing each other and experiencing your firsts – your first date, first kiss, first trip together, and meeting each other’s families and friends the first time.
Plants grow, trees produce new leaves, and flowers bloom in spring. Similarly, you develop feelings for your partner, your relationship grows, and your love blooms. In short, the spring season of a relationship is all about happiness, romance, and excitement.
On the flip side, a gardener can fail to notice or ignore a few dead or diseased leaves on a tree during the spring, when most leaves are fresh, green, and growing. Similarly, couples can fail to notice or deliberately overlook the warning signs in their relationship during spring.
Your relationship experiences its summer when you decide to take your relationship to the next step and exchange vows. We generally refer to this time as the honeymoon period.
The summer season of your relationship is for making memories, the kind that lasts for a lifetime. Just like spring, this season is also primarily characterized by happiness. During this time, couples tend to overlook red flags; they often ignore, bear, or forgive each other’s mistakes, annoying habits, and points of conflict. Issues are often swept under the rug to maintain peace.
Unless a very big issue arises, this season of a relationship also entails the growth of love, which, in turn, strengthens the bond between the partners.
The fall season is generally viewed as the season of death – flowers die, leaves lose their color and shine to fall from trees, and birds leave the garden. Similar things start to happen in your relationship when it enters the season of fall. As emotions subside, the loving feeling starts to fade. As life’s realities hit you and responsibilities take over, partners begin to notice flaws in each other’s personalities. They also begin to notice or stop ignoring each other’s faults. As a result, cracks begin to appear, and people start noticing the elements they lack or things missing from their relationship.
Just like the fall season completely exposes a tree, couples begin to see their true personalities. As a result, things get a little complicated and troublesome. There may also be small arguments and cold fights.
The Fall Season of a Relationship
Fall is characterized by the complexity of emotions. On the one hand, you love your partner, and the good memories are still fresh. On the other hand, you begin to see various flaws in your partner and your relationship’s weaknesses. As a result, you experience a range of contrasting and conflicting emotions and thoughts.
While fall is generally regarded as the season of dormancy and death, it also represents transformation and transition. It’s the time to reflect upon yourself, your partner, and your relationship and embrace change. Fall is also the season that requires you to take measures that preserve life. Have you ever heard or read about how animals prepare for tough winters by setting up places for hibernation or storing food?
Have you ever seen how farmers save their fall crops from getting damaged by harvesting them before the winter season starts? And how gardeners cover most of their plants or bring them indoors to save them from damage during the winter season. You should do that same for your relationship.
Instead of putting your entire focus on the small issues of the present (fall), take measures to preserve your relationship and figure out ways to protect it from getting severely damaged by the harsh weather that’s coming next.
Characterized by dropping temperatures, cloudy weather, short days, and long, dark nights, winter signifies harshness, detachment, isolation, loneliness, pain, and end or death. In relationships, it is the stage where you stop overlooking your partner’s faults and flaws and covering up for their mistakes. This often results in open arguments, fights, and can even lead to outbursts. During the winter season of the relationship, partners express their concerns, complaints, negative emotions and feelings, and adverse reactions with their partners.
Both in nature and relationships, winter is generally seen as the season that marks the end. However, most people fail to consider that the season also gives you hope: the hope for new beginnings. Winter is followed by spring, the season of rebirth and new growth. Unfortunately, not all couples get to experience the spring season in their relationship once again.
Those who enter winter unprepared fall victim to the harshness of the season. For many of them, winter leads to the death of their relationship. Even if it doesn’t formally end, the relationship loses its essence and gets weak and unstable. However, people who prepare for the harsh winter season beforehand, like animals, farmers, and gardeners, can save their homes and valuables despite all the hardships. The winter season can turn out to be a period of transformation, renewed growth, and improved bonding for couples who prepare for it in advance.
Every Marriage Is In Process
“Every marriage is still in process,” said Gary Chapman in his book The 4 Seasons of Marriage – Secrets to a Lasting Marriage. According to him, marriages always remain in perpetual transition, moving from one season to another repeatedly. It may not happen every year, as in nature, and the seasons may not always occur in the same series. However, this cycle of transition is as consistent in marriages as it is in nature. Chapman firmly believes that every marriage goes through these four seasons several times during its lifetime. Hence, couples also need to be consistent in protecting their relationship from these seasons’ adverse effects. This is why he says that every marriage is always in process.
Embracing These Seasons is Essential to Forming a Strong, Lasting Relationship
It’s common sense that you can’t develop a strong relationship with anyone if you only focus on their positive traits; you have to accept their weaknesses and flaws too. This is what you call true love!
If you want your relationship to stand the test of time and remain strong, no matter how difficult things get, you have to embrace it fully, including its ups and downs, the good times and the bad times. Having this level of acceptance is not easy by any means and often doesn’t even get easier with time. Still, it’s necessary and worth your time and effort. It will give you the gift of a beautiful relationship.
Even though we are made to believe love is something beyond your control, the fact is that falling in love can be unintentional. However, staying in a relationship isn’t. Continuing to love your partner and staying in a relationship with them is a conscious decision. You need to continuously invest your time and effort to make your love last and continue to grow. As Chapman noted, “all couples face difficulties, and all couples have differences.
The real problem arises when couples fail to negotiate these differences. When couples fail to work out their differences, they find themselves in the middle of winter – a season of marriage created not by the difficulties of life, but by the manner in which a couple responds to those difficulties.”
Chapman also advised couples to see their differences not as liabilities, but as assets. Two people with different personalities, attributes, opinions, and skills can bring a lot more on the table than two people that are similar in every aspect. Use your uniqueness positively to nurture and strengthen your relationship. As Chapman advised, “foster the springtime attitudes of optimism, gratitude, love, and trust to enjoy the fragrant blossoming of spring in your marriage. Positive attitudes lead to positive actions.”
Consult a Marriage Coach if Your Relationship is Going Through Fall or Winter!
You must have come across the verse 3 (1- 8) of Ecclesiastes that says, “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
The Bible verse talk about the same thing –how life goes through various seasons. Your relationship with your partner is no exception!
If your relationship is going through fall or winter season and you are struggling to protect your relationship from the season’s adverse effects, consult a marriage coach. A marriage coach can help you learn various ways to successfully make it through tough times without getting your relationship ruined. Schedule your free consultation session at Marriage Means Moore today to learn how you can nurture your relationship and make sure it gets stronger with time instead of weaker. Not sure if you need a marriage coach? Read our post When and Why to See a Marriage Coach to find out! Consider attending one of our annual couples retreats!
By Antonio & Laura Moore, Relationship & Marriage Coaches – September 23, 2020 All Rights Reserved.
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