Many people believe that the feelings of falling in love will sustain a marriage forever, but the truth is that emotions are unpredictable and can change over time. Relying solely on emotions is not sustainable.
When emotions change or leave—and they will at times!— it is easy to think that we have fallen out of love, but love is not just a feeling; it is an action. Building a solid foundation for your marriage is essential, and that foundation must be built on something stronger than mere feelings.
In his book, The 4 Seasons of Marriage, Gary Chapman explains that, just as the weather changes, your marriage will experience different “seasons.” These seasons do not depend on age or how long you have been married. Instead, they are defined by our emotions.
Seasons of Change
SPRING — Spring is a season of new beginnings, growth, and promise, full of excitement, hope, and trust. Couples in this season of their marriage joyfully discover each other and make plans for the future characterized by a strong sense of unity and trust.
KEY POINT: The optimism of spring is not just for newlyweds. It’s for any couple that makes an effort to discover NEW things about each other and grow together.
SUMMER — Summer is the season of deepening and maturing your marriage. You have learned to appreciate each other’s strengths and weaknesses and have fun together. This season is full of joy, love, and contentment. In summer, our lives achieve a comfortable rhythm.
FALL — On the outside, fall looks alive. Leaves are changing color… but upon closer examination, it’s evident that something is fading.
Fall is the season of change and uncertainty. In this season, you may face challenges and obstacles that test your relationship. You may struggle with financial difficulties, health issues, or disagreements. How you handle this season will say a great deal about your future success as a couple.
KEY POINT: At this stage, you have a choice. You can either hit the RESET button and renew the hope of spring, or you can choose to IGNORE the growing dissatisfaction and eventually move into the winter season.
WINTER — In winter, nearly everything lies dormant under layers of ice. The beauty of spring is a distant memory. When a marriage enters the winter season, couples withdraw from one another.
Winter is the season of loneliness, weariness, hurt, and fear. You may have unresolved conflicts and feel tempted to give up. In this season, it is essential to rekindle the passion and commitment that brought you together in the first place.
The Good News?
Even if your marriage is experiencing the deepest winter, there is hope – but it will take work. Below are some biblical practices that can bring spring back to your marriage (or keep winter at bay!).
- Pray! To some, this answer feels like a letdown. You might think, of course, I’m praying, and if I’m honest, it doesn’t seem to be working. Many couples are shocked to discover that even in praying, they are not really praying! Meaning you may not be praying the way that God intended.
Remember, marriage was designed by God, and Christian marriage cannot rely on the same methods and solutions as others. Only God can truly fix or sustain your marriage. Therefore, close daily prayer with your spouse is essential.
- Communication! Cultivating a Christian marriage requires intentional effort, prioritizing time together, communicating openly and honestly, speaking without anger, and listening to one another with patience and compassion. It also means recognizing that challenges and disagreements will arise and working through them together.
- Expect and prepare for trials! In earlier lessons, we focused on building spiritual intimacy, listening actively, establishing boundaries with your family of origin, and adjusting your attitude. All are important.
All are tested when trials come our way. Why? Because when we are in a highly emotional state, our emotions often rule which could mean the following:
- We don’t think the way we normally think.
- We say things we shouldn’t say.
- We don’t act the way we should act.
This leads to the most crucial point…
Non-christian marriages often lack an anchor when storms come. Perhaps the only thing that drew the couple together was emotion and passion. When those ebb, so does the relationship.
Storms will come; you can count on it. As Christians, we understand that God designed marriage to be a covenant between two people, not just an emotional connection. It is a promise to love, honor, and cherish each other for better or worse, in sickness and health, until death do us part. This covenant is based on Christian principles, such as faithfulness, forgiveness, and sacrificial love.
A covenantal, Christian commitment is the only way to save and preserve your marriage!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it this way:
“It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”
Apart from this profound commitment, the relationship will dissolve if something more exciting comes along or you grow bored or feel empty.
Put your spouse’s needs first, pray for him or her, and practice patience and forbearance when you don’t feel like it! Love is a *choice* we make daily.
The amazing truth is that when we love our spouse as an action, this act will eventually bring back spring in your marriage! Join us at Dream City Church for more teaching, encouragement, and support as you seek to build a happy, Christ-filled marriage.
If you want to learn more about prayer and how to pray together as a married couple, please join us for our weekly DREAMarriage classes. Visit our website to find more information or to sign up to participate. We can’t wait to meet you!