High River United Church of High River, Alberta


The Seasons of a Marriage (or other significant relationship) - Part 1

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“I think we’ve fallen out of love. Maybe our marriage is over.” We’ve all heard those words spoken, and maybe even spoken them ourselves. The statement points us to deeper questions. What does it mean to fall in love or out of love? And what really is marriage?


First of all, when I write about marriage, I’m including anyone in a committed relationship, two women, a man and a woman, two men, whether or not one has had an official wedding ceremony.


Let’s explore first what it means when we say, “I’ve fallen in love.” This is the first rush of romance. A great deal of hormones are involved in the beautiful rush of feelings that come with finding the right person. But this is not going to last. The fun and joy of romance is a great way to start a relationship, yet it is not sustainable in the long run of a relationship. Romance involves little surprises and the joy of discovering new things about each other. The longer the relationship, the harder it is going to be to surprise one another. So, while romance begins a relationship, it does not sustain a relationship.


A long and enduring relationship must go deeper. A long relationship is not built on ongoing surprises and romance; it is built on commitment to journeying through all the seasons of life together. The gift comes in knowing and cherishing each other, the many shared stories and experiences, a deepening respect for one another and learning to accept one another as you are.


There are seasons to such a relationship, spring, summer, autumn and winter. Not every day is simple or delightful, as anyone who has been married for a while knows.


There are spring times in marriage, times when new possibilities are starting, filled with excitement and wonder. The initial romance is a spring time. A move to a new home, the welcoming of a child into the family, a long desired vacation to somewhere special. There can be hard work alongside the delight and possibility. As a farm girl, I think of the spring on the farm. New growth, the first crocuses, baby calves, seeds planted – all speak of possibility, but there is hard work alongside the delivery of those calves, the ploughing and planting of the fields.  And so it is with a relationship – there are times of new possibility but these times are often accompanied by hard work to give birth to those possibilities. Yet the hard work is welcome because of the promise of the results.


There are the summer times in a relationship. I see these as regular times, coasting times, times when we go through the day to day routines, knowing that all is well. Life feels stable. There are little bumps along the way, a few bigger ones, but we know as a couple that we can handle these. Together we can use our resources and skills to find a way forward. There are times of rest and times to play. We establish patterns that work well for us, or adapt patterns to serve us better. We build, save and work toward common goals. Most days we enjoy what we are doing together and who we are together as a couple.


Autumn is the harvest time, the time of gathering in. Autumn can take a couple of different shapes. We have autumns in a relationship when we experience the deep sense of blessing and gratitude for what we share. We consider what we share together, the support and care we find with each other and the ways we can laugh together and cry together, and we are grateful. We find ways to celebrate this together as a couple and with family and friends.


There are other autumns, though, which are all about harvesting what we have grown through the springs and summers of our lives. An illness hits, a tragedy within the family, the loss of a job, the recalling of abuse we suffered as a child or a natural disaster and suddenly we don’t have the time or energy for each other and for caring for the relationship. We need each other. We need the support of one another. We are still committed to one another. But one or both of us may not be at our best. We may not be able to offer much to the relationship. In these times, we need to rely on what we have built through the springs and summers of our lives. We need the trust that has been established in the relationship – trust that we will get through this together, trust in each others skills and resources, trust that we still love each other and care for each other, even when there is not much energy to show it.


(end of part 1 – part 2 next week – the Winters of our Relationships)


In scripture we hear, “For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 So it is with marriage – it too has seasons. Don’t be afraid if your marriage hits a tough season, a challenging season. There is a way through. Spring will come!


January 23, 2020               ©Susan Lukey 2020

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