"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

04 May 2009

Seasons in Marriage

This month's topic "The Seasons of Marriage" is a huge one! When I first learned of the topic (last week), I immediately thought of the book by Gary Chapman, "The 4 Seasons of Marriage". I have not bought nor read the book yet. After reading a few online reviews, I probably won't invest in it, mainly because it sounds like there isn't anything "new" in it. I loved reading "The 5 Love Languages of Children" and "The Love Languages" by the same author and they have helped me with my parenting and marital relationship immensely. So....I wasn't sure just how to approach this month's topic.
Should I write about the different seasons we go through as a couple or as a couple with children? Should I write about the physical/intimate seasons of a marriage (NO....too much info for the blogosphere and I am not willing to be that vulnerable with that kind of "private stuff!").

So....I decided to start reading a book that has been highly recommended by our pastor. The book is titled "Sacred Marriage" by Gary Thomas. And if you know me at all, you know that I LOVED the book "Sacred Pathways" by same author.
Well, this book is DEEP! I just started reading it last nite as I bought it on Saturday afternoon. I am going to love this book and I know I will refer to it often. While flipping through the book, the author doesn't really mention "the seasons of marriage" but I am discovering that some of what he has written, Dave and I have already discovered to be true. Here is a quote from the first chapter that summarizes what I want to share with you:
"This is a book that looks at how we can use the challenges, joys, struggles, and celebrations of marriage to draw closer to God and to grow in Christian character."(pg 12, c.2000)
YES! This would be my premise for this post.
Talking about marriage and how it has "seasons" is pretty much common sense stuff, isn't it?
SPRING: New life (Newlywed stage), Green (new at something), Growth, Planting, Passion, Purpose. Do you see the similarities for a new marriage?
SUMMER: Carefree, Easy, Relaxed, Restorative.
AUTUMN: Reserving (think of squirrels gathering their nuts to use later), perhaps Renewed Energy (I often feel depleted in the "dog days" of humid Augusts which are typical around here and with Autumn and the start of my year (a school year) I have renewed energy. Autumn of course leads to winter......
WINTER: bleak, barren, cold.....you can get the idea of what a marriage in winter season might be.....that breakdown of communication, compassion and maybe even Christ-centered actions/thoughts/words.
Yesterday afternoon I took an alloted amount of time to take notes on what I have learned about my marriage in regards to the "seasons". Therefore, this post, while maybe not written in a perfect essay style, will be what the Lord put on my heart to share and where Dave and I are, at this moment, in our marriage. We will celebrate our 19th anniversary on June 30th and let me tell you.....we have experienced all 4 seasons over and over again. Gee...isn't that interesting? Where we live, here in the NorthEast, we experience all 4 seasons each and every year. Over and over again. And if most of you are brutally honest, you have also experienced some autumns and winters.

Everything Has Its Time
"To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born,
and a time to die.
a time to plant,
and a time to harvest.
A time to kill
and a time to heal.
a time to break down,
and a time to build up.
a time to weep,
and a time to laugh.
A time to mourn,
and a time to dance.
a time to cast away stones,
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace,

and a time to refrain from embracing.
a time to gain,
and a time to lose.
a time to keep,
and a time to throw away.
a time to tear,
and a time to sew.
a time to keep silent,
and a time to speak.
a time to love,
and a time to hate,
a time of war
and a time of peace."

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
God's timing is perfect. He knows the purpose when we cannot grasp it at all.
His purposes can be completely trusted. He brings us through things that sometimes we will not understand while we are still here on this earth. This is true of our marriage as well.
I know that, currently, my husband and I are in what I like to call our Busy Season. I know that isn't one of the calendar seasons. But, it is similar to a Summer/Early Autumn.
I am showing the picture above which is supposed to represent our 4 seasons of life. I wanted to show the Thomas Cole paintings but couldn't find them online quickly enough to get this post ready. So...look at the picture at the top of this post. It shows childhood, young adult, adult, and death.
I chose this picture because right now, Dave and I are in the adult phase. And like most modern-day adults in an active Evangelical church with 2 children in public school and 2 careers, we are BUSY!
Our teen daughter is fast approaching the young adult phase. She's following the Advanced Regents with Honors Diploma track at school and plays an instrument and has an active youth group and is in 2 school clubs. She is busy!
Our 10 year old daughter is still in the childhood phase. She is in a performance ministry, studies dance and is in orchestra, and getting all A's. She is busy!
So...I jokingly refer to this as Busy Season.
We no longer need babysitters but we do need a blackberry! We no longer need a carriage but we need our cellphones. We no longer need to take turns at ministry duties but are each engaging in our own specific ministries while the children are engaged in their own extracurricular activities.
We are in the season where we need to be available to our tween and our teen.
We have an open home, meaning neighbors, friends, and relatives gather. We are at a point where we have something going on almost every nite of the week. This forces us to continue to improve in the areas of communication and compassion. It gets hard. We are not perfect at it. Days go by and we barely see each other. Nights go by and we barely have time for quick kiss and a hug........
So...we have had to make an effort to schedule "alone time".
Teens sometimes need our mentoring so we try to be hospitable.
We both work outside the home so that has to play into this delicate balancing act. We have had to learn to communicate. Not always so good at it. Especially me. But...God is still shaping me and changing me in this area. I am still being pruned, so to speak!

We have had our share of struggles emotionally, intimately and spiritually. We have not had too much struggle financially for which we thank God...but....we have had arguments about finances. In every thing that has come our way: from a 10 week old baby girl needing major surgery, to a teen who has an older boy calling her, from needy people in a home group to a major church transition, from the newlywed stage to this "comfortable with each other and at times irritated with each other" stage, God has been there to keep us grounded. Dave and I both have had major struggles with things from our past that required counseling. God was there! Dave and I both have had career woes....God was there. Challenges, joys, struggles. And yes: many celebrations. And God has been with us through it all. Our character has been shaped. We have had to draw close to God and at times one of us has maybe run a bit from God. But...through it all, God has never given up so we won't give up on each other.
And like I heard in yesterday's sermon at church "love, grace, and mercy" are the attributes that our church, Grace Fellowship, has displayed. And like the church is displaying towards the seekers, the Believers and the visitors who come through its doors, Dave and I need to display love, grace and mercy towards each other in this marriage.

No matter what season we are in.

Thank you to Christine at fruit in season for hosting this month's Marriage Monday.


Christine said...

Yay, you made it! You are so right that there are different ways to look at the seasons of marriage. I went with the premise of the "4 Seasons" book, but I have also thought of marriage as fitting into the seasons of life, seasons of parenting, etc. There's so much to be learned from all of the seasons. I'm glad you started the Gary Thomas book- it is awesome. Definitely a read again year after year.

So glad you were able to put down your thoughts! I can learn a lot from you. And happy anniversary coming up next month!


The Surrendered Scribe said...

Great post! Another book that helped me just in general about life seasons was Chuck Swindoll.

I also read a fiction series Gary Smalley had out on seasons of marriage. It was quaint with a cute backdrop and good characters, and I thought it was neat how the seasons of marriage intertwined throughout.

Great topic, so glad I found you through Marriage Monday!

Denise said...

Such a wonderful post.

bp said...

I have not heard of that particular Smalley book although I enjoyed the 5 Love Languages.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on seasons. I know what you mean about going through them again and again! I've just been married 8 years and I've seen all the seasons with my hubby!

Constance said...

When couples throw in the towel and give up, they've missed out on the blessings that are to come! It's like planting a seed and while it's underground we can't see the metamorphisis that is taking place. At the right time, it bursts forth and unveils itself. It isn't finished at this point. It needs continual nurturing, just like our marriages.

Imagine how transformed marriages would be if each of us lavished attention and nurturing to our spouses?

Susanne said...

Excellent post, Faith. Just knowing that there are seasons and if you're in a hard one that it will not last forever brings much hope. As does your emphasis that God is there no matter what!