Love this picture that shows how different Alex and Ariel are!

Tonight we are having our next pre-marriage counseling time with Alex and Ariel, who are making the final plans for their October wedding. It’s got me thinking about my own marriage….

Life has seasons. There are supposed to be four, but in Florida we have only two. In fact, we’re about to enter into the season why so many people live to Florida. Sunny days in the mid 70’s with the windows open is my kind of winter!

Contrary to myth, Florida does get cold sometimes. There have been winters that remind me a little of living in Virginia. One time I even had to scrape frost off my windows and there were snow flurries not far from our home!

I admit it — those cold days use to surprise me. After all, who expects to need coats and scarves in Florida? But now I enjoy chilly days that require sweatshirts and allow a warm fire in the fireplace.

Is your marriage a two or four-season relationship? Do you find yourself regularly having to adjust to a new season just when you got comfortable with the former one? Do cold months surprise and discourage you?

  • Just when it seems you figure your spouse out, does it seem like a switch flipped and suddenly you don’t know him/her anymore?
  • Is job, family or financial stress exposing weaknesses in your relationship that you thought had been “fixed” in an earlier season?
  • Are you realizing that you and your spouse are struggling to communicate…and you don’t understand what happened?
  • Is the warmth and romance between you waning after a nice season of playfulness and oneness between you?
  • Does it feel like your relationship jumps around from tender to tense? Gentle to harsh? Patient to irritable?

I would answer yes to most of the above questions. My marriage is like yours and everyone else’s: it changes. The warmth of spring and summer leads to fall and winter coolness. Rain and snow fall. Days spent on the beach give way to crisp, drizzly reminders that the sun won’t always shine.

That’s us 39 1/2 years ago. I still love looking at him.

In six months Benny and I will celebrate 4 decades since the day two 18-year-olds got married. Our relationship, like our locale for 2/3 of those years, use to have four seasons. Honestly, most of that was due to me. Benny is a one-season kind of guy. He is steady; even-tempered (well…unless he’s watching sports); patient; flexible. I’m definitely a multi-season girl with changing moods, preferences and emotions; and I love a plan that doesn’t get changed (well…unless I want it to). But our marriage as pretty much leveled into 2 seasons, just like the Sunshine State where we now live. Benny’s steadiness and my feistiness have meshed into a comfortable spot where high winds have become more gentle breezes. We can also see ahead to storms brewing on the horizon — giving us the opportunity to batten down the communication hatches and do the hard work of preparing our marriage for what’s to come. This is the kind of stuff experience and many years together can produce with God’s help and two people who know they’re flawed and need His empowering grace.

Yes, we’re been married for nearly forty years. And by God’s grace we’ve made progress in becoming more a of two-season couple. But we’re not much different than Alex and Ariel, who are just starting out. People are different. Relationships change. But in the midst of it all God is unchanging.  Whether you experience confusing upheavals in your relationship or you’ve settled into less fluctuating marriage environment — every marriage is hard work and seasons, by definition, change.

Like Alex and Ariel’s, most marriages start with springlike love that is budding with beauty. But like every couple, they will soon discover that springtime doesn’t last all year. Gentle showers will be replaced by pelting rains. Blossoms will fall to the ground, leaving them wondering if new life will come from what appears to be dead.

Hopefully we will be there to remind them that every season has it’s beauty; even the cold ones that surprise us. While I’m much happier with Florida winters than with the ice storms and the stay-in-the-house-for-months lifestyle of Virginia winters, I do miss falling snow and sledding on Shiplett Boulevard with the kids.

God has always been faithful to us.

It true — even the harsh seasons in our marriage have value because God sees to it that the seeds of beauty survive. Whether you’re just starting out like Alex and Ariel or have weathered the seasons for decades like Benny and me, God is faithful. And you and I need Him.

After all, seasons were His idea. He could have made both the world and marriages thrive in steady sameness. But He chose change to be the conduit of growth and beauty.

Looking back on nearly 40 years of marriage I can say that even the worst seasons were worth weathering. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.