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Embracing the Various Seasons of Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
June 15, 2022 6:00 am

Embracing the Various Seasons of Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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June 15, 2022 6:00 am

Author Gary Chapman explains how couples go through four seasons of marriage – spring, summer, fall and winter and how couples can thrive through each of those seasons. (Part 1 of 2)

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We took the little boy is in the book and he said I came out that we were in spring marriage my wife came out we were in the winter, married to Switzer which is said during the winter, married one of the places winter it's winter.

That's Dr. Gary Chapman giving some encouragement that what ever season of marriage you're in, you can grow together as a couple and you'll hear more from him on today's Focus on the Family with your host focus president and author Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller, John Dr. Chapman is one of our favorite debts or the street. The offer such biblically sound advice and does it in such an honest and transparent way. We all connect with him and that's what makes it wonderful and today I think you're really going to benefit from this conversation and learn. I think some practical tools you can apply in your marriage to pay to make it stronger. And that's why we exist here Focus on the Family you know what we want your marriage to not just survive but to thrive and working to give you some of those suggestions on how to invest in your marriage today. Will Dr. Chapman is the author of a number of best-selling books including the four seasons of marriage secrets to a lasting marriage, and he and his wife Carolyn live in North Carolina and they've got a lasting marriage of over 50 years. The proof is in the pudding is in very welcome back to the ministry.

Thank you.

Good to be back with you guys hate it when you look at that that what causes marriage to be in this perp actual transition of seasons that you talk about your book in the course use the metaphor of winter and spring and summer and fall wire. We like that in marriage I think because as humans we are constantly changing numbing. The winds are blowing different ways and things are happening in our lives in and that's why so you know, seasons change quickly go from one season to another season but I really I found this concept of using the seasons to describe the quality of the marriage is nice, not the I did you get married and spring if you live long enough you get to winter that's not the idea to start spring and then when you but it's that you have the seasons pretty much describe the quality of the marriage and if you can see where you are, which season your ear and you can decide how you really go back to spring or summer, you know that's what were trying to do. It was important in that analogy that you use in your book the four seasons of marriage.

You can be in all four seasons, probably in the day as possible and let's get to it. With that in mind talk about.

I guess let's start words cold and frigid there some people that like winter sports. I enjoy skiing. That's not a good thing if you're in the winter of your marriage. What is the winter of marriage look like now the winter season is cold. It's harsh, it's better we are hunkered down in the igloo and not talking to each other or if we talk we are arguing with each other. That's a winner marriage.

It's not a place where you want to spend a lot of time when you look back. Did you have a winter season in your marriage. Had to get out of it.

Yes, our winter season came pretty early in our relationship started well after spraying before we got married. It was springtime. We were in love, but I one very long after the honeymoon that we began to come down and it got cold in our house so yeah we went through us pretty long winter season there actually when I knew nothing about winter our marriage just just need this is not the way it was supposed to be not what I had hoped it was going know, for the benefit of the listener. Let's go through them quickly and come back on qualified that more was winter, but we we talked a little about winter.

Talk about the other three okay spring. Of course, is an exciting time. It's a lot of hope it's a lot of really enjoying the relation that's honeymoon time.

That's honeymoon time.

That's right, but he can come later in marriage, you can be in spring and be married 50 years. That's an exciting time.

Summer is relaxed, we come to accept a lot of the things that were irritating in the early years we these are the people who go to married controversies and read books all marriage because I know that you have to water the flowers in the summer so there invested. Yes other investing to release a good season to be in the fall looks good on the outside but the leaves were about to fall off.

People would say about this marriage, aren't they a nice couple. But we know things are really well with us and if we don't do something, we will end up in winter, so the fall looks good on the outside to everyone else but we have apprehension inside. We have questions in our minds about where this thing is going. And so, though those are the four seasons and the quality of marriage as I described and again that you're going to move through these sometimes at a rapid pace sometimes maybe you will be stuck for a long period of time, maybe even years moving back now to winter now that we have the definition of winter, spring, summer and fall that couple that has felt stuck in the winter season. I mean, the igloo the ice, the recriminations, the it's your fault not my fault I'm wonderful how did they begin to thaw.

Well, you know, I think this is really really the heart of the book is we give the seven strategies for improving relationship are spending more time in spring and summer. I think one of the first things if you're in a winner marriage is that we have to deal effectively with our failures, we have to handle and recognize that we have created this winter ourselves. How is that been done. I think often it's been done by just simply neglecting each other. We just if not spent time with each other.

We go on our own ways we done our own things. We kept our distance from each other and we haven't resolve our conflicts and and so we we find ourselves in a very uncomfortable relationship, split wood at the couple. Dr. Chapman is sitting in your office for counseling and the both kind of an agreement will you know Dr. Chapman life is busy got this vocation.

I'm an executive I got a lot of demands on that travel 200 days a year and the wife saying we have got the young kids there. The most important thing in my life and their kind in rationalizing the drift. Is that typical. It is typical in one of things I would sleep to say to that man would be, you know, you're probably a great businessman or salesman or whatever and you probably doing a great job with that. And chances are if you continue on the route your own.

You make it to the top. Don't ask a question you want to be at the top alone because there's a good chance if you continue to focus on your vocation the way you're focusing on it now I neglecting the relationship, you will be alone in most guys, it's kinda sobering to them. The thing is okay and I say to that wife you know you're doing a great job very likely with these children, you are investing in their lives. It's a wonderful thing to be a good mother but those children in 18 years ago become.

And if you don't do something to change this marital relationship. Here you going to be alone.

Also, your kids go be off in college you will be home alone and then we going to just do something now when you can do it now's the time to do something, you know that context, you know, we tend to think in what some will be critical and stereotypical ways. A lot of women working outside of the home and they're doing both the vocational thing so they could be sitting in that meeting, saying yeah I'm just really busy. I got all the demands of work on me and I get home. And although we share some of those things.

I still feel kind of that stereotype burden that I'm the one responsible for the home for the shopping for the kids. Even though my husband helps but I'm still kind of the one speak to her and all the activity that's going on in her life, but I think that is very common today. In today's world, the wife does have a full-time job and working with the children and trying to do something maybe to keep the marriage together and what I would say is this, you know, we get to the end of the journey and I think of that often because I'm getting closer to the end of the journey and you look back the things that really matter or relationships. And yes, the relationship of the children are extremely important, but your marriage relationship is also extremely important. The vocation seems important at the moment and yes it's bringing in money so that you can have some of the pleasures of life we look back. Ultimately it's not the vocation you remember and think until good about. It's going be the relationships that you either feel good about our you deeply regret. Let's live so we don't have regrets. When we get to the end of the journey appreciate that perspective. I wonder if we can go back to you and Carolyn and what you said was a pretty early winter phase that you went through how did you get there and and what were some steps you took to get out of that so early in your relationship. Well I got there by arguing because existentially the way we handle conflicts. I had no idea how to handle conflicts before we got married. Never read a book on conflict resolution didn't think we would have any conflicts because we were in love with you have any conflicts when you're in love you so much alike and were somewhat so I went on a different so we had a lot of conflicts and we ended up arguing with each other and when you argue you put the other person down you communicate to them that their answers stupid or whatever you know and it's not, it creates winter and it took us a while to realize that that was not working and I've shared with you on earlier program that God worked in my heart to show me that rather than demanding things of my wife and thinking that I'm the leader and she supposed to do what I say I got a biblical perspective on leadership.

Jesus said to his disciples after he wash their feet. I'm your leader in my kingdom. This is the way you lead.

You serve. And that was a new concept for me.

I thought the leader barked out orders when I realize that God was asking me to serve my wife. I asked him to change my heart if I didn't have the heart to do that and we change my heart, then I was willing to reach out to her and began to serve her and kind and what word it was a couple of the first things that she allowed you to serve her in when I when I asked Rena what I could do to help her.

She had ideas and one will be to help around the house. I found out years later course I knew nothing about love languages.

In those days, but I found out years later, her love language was acts of service and I remember when I said are probably six weeks into the marriage us and honey.

The toilets dirty and she said I know I was wondering when you go clean enough that I don't how to clean toilets is now teaching. Yes, he wanted me to do things to help in our little apartment dinner, and not in doing those things because my mother did all that stuff so you know when I asked her what I could do to help her. She began telling me, and so really I was letting her I would've called it at that juncture I would call the service I when I was loving her and she was beginning to feel differently toward me and then we know we want to get the beloved thing going service attitude toward each other going, then you can work for you conflicts much easier because you're not as nearly as demanding. Your try more and understand each other and then reach a resolution. Yeah, you know the area. I constantly think about why in the marital relationship, we tend to be so how many use the word stupid and and that that's the best way to describe it. Unfortunately I can remember years ago I was so frustrated. There was just a man with close on the ironing board and it was like 3 feet high and I think, and what is going on in here and I know people you know that's horrible just so Saturday rolled around and I was going to do it and I huffed and I puffed and I pulled that ironing board out in that big mound to close my through the closing door chair in the living room. Nice set up that ironing board, I began to press closer like a laundromat is and I'm in good light halfway going. This may be one of the stupidest moves I let you know only through sheer desire to prove I'm right I hung with it and I got it all done and to my amazement with my huffing and puffing in my poor attitude even though I had done all the all the pressing gene was not that satisfied with me.

Hey wait a minute, but it was the attitude of the whole thing and I'm significant why why are we so stupid.

With so much of the conflict in marriage that were not thinking it through. If I wanted to do that in hindsight, just keep your mouth quiet.

Have a good attitude when there get the ironing board, get the laundry voluminous as it was and start doing artists I beforehand honey it would be helpful to you if iron the clothes yes yes oh now you she can either say all of the wonderful rather than making it a point of instruction rights, which is a good way to go, and you have something.

I mean, that happened to you where these were points of instruction yell. I was always instructing her and that's what I thought about the toilet you what, why, if you waited so long. The tone is dirty and up so I was expecting her to do everything and instructing her that he should be done rather than asking you what can I do what can I do you mean it's the whole thing of questions. Instead of preaching. And when you start asking questions.

You change the whole environment as Jesus did. That's what Jesus did and and then you let their answers guide you into how you can do something meaningful for them and when a person is actually reaching out to you and trying to help you inside this something happens and you and you want to reach out and help them make the whole thing that we love God because God first loved us. We can come up with this idea of loving God. He loved us and sent his son and then we respond to his love, and I believe that works the same way marriage finally had that when you do with the poor attitude. There are no brownie points and I would not right that was just missed you.

Listening to Focus on the Family today are guesses Gary Chapman were talking about the four seasons of marriage secrets to a lasting marriage and Gary of covered winter. One thing before we move out of winter and get a little defrost and move in the spring EE you mentioned there are some positive benefits in winter which you know most people write everything in what could be positive. What is it. Well the big positive and being in a winter marriage is it often motivates you to do something about it, when you're cold and harsh and bitter. You realize this is not good. This is not the kind of marriage. We will have and so often it will motivate you to read a book on marriage or to go to a marriage counselor are to go to marriage conference. Are you not reach out in some way to do something to make it different and that's the positive thing about winter. Not much else positive about crack but is it can be a motivator. It pushes you into another season which there's only one way that's out there and I like to relate to that in Colorado. I love when spring comes good in winter. Just last forever.

Let's move the spring you touched on a bit jealous again spring and what that's about what spring is an exciting time you have visions you have dreams you have hopes you anticipate things are going to do together and almost everyone starts their marriage in spring when you're in love is a spring season and so you're anticipating all these wonderful things in spring.

And that's good. Typically, people don't necessarily move quickly from winter to spring.

It takes a while and one at one of the things that we just Touchstone is you have to deal with your failures. There needs to come up on it which you say to the other person in your own words you know honey, I realize I have let you down.

A lot of ways are. I have been harsh to you or whatever you describe. You try to describe what you since you've done to them and then I realize I just taken the joy out of your life and I don't enjoy either and I know that a part of this is my fault and I just want to tell you I'm sorry and I want to ask. I hope you can forgive me and I hope we can have a new start and when you would either one of you takes that approach and you reach out to tear the walls down that have developed between the two of you. You can always feel the ice melting you know and and begins to get warmer and then you start doing positive things in the love language thing. Of course, would be a positive thing. Learn how to speak their love language and began speaking that love language and now it's getting really much warmer because we dealt with the past failures and now were starting to do things differently than what we've done before. Gary, when you talk about the love languages you know it's been a while since we've touched on those that give us the five again and I honestly don't know which one is me. I know that I've taken that test I read the book. My kids knew right away what they were and they can even answer.

What I am so may we can work that out personal counseling. All well that the five love languages are words of affirmation, using words to affirm the other person. You look nice in that outfit appreciate what you did gifts universal to give gifts as an expression of love. The gift says they were thinking about me and then there's acts of service, clean the toilet doing the my are acts of service, doing something you know they would like for you to do quality time giving them your undivided attention. Extended conversations and then physical touch and typically out of the five everybody except Jim has a primary luck. I miss telling you that John keeps hug and not my language.

Here's another approach for you Jim when you get alone sit honestly if I had to give up one of these from my wife, which will when I give up first. Okay so you eliminated one you down for now which woman I give up. Can I ask you this. In that context do you think some of that love language and you wrote the book literally is some of that learned in childhood, I'm thinking of acts of service and I'm serious when you know for me things being in order things being tidy.

It's what I like.

It gives me a sense of peace, partly because I had a really bad stepfather who light made it a kind of a military approach to a clean house in my closet is reasonably in order and the eight I don't know if I that's what I learned as a nine-year-old from it could be that right yeah I don't know whether it's nature or nurture. I'm often asked that question is are you born with the love language or does it develop because of things that happened the early years and I don't know the answer to that is like a lot of other personality traits that we sure we don't know but I do know that you can take out on a child's love language. By the time they're five years old just by observing how they respond to you.

Troy my at the time he was for use in my lap, which he still does to this day as a teenager in the morning he'll come and sit in my lap and talk to me and kind of snuggling to me and I was asking them. In fact, I was reading prep for the broadcast. With you I said Troy what you think your love languages and I went through and he said oh I'm physical touch and they give me a hug and a new yeah yeah four-year-old right yeah and part of this is how we ourselves express love isn't it. We often express love in the way we would like to receive love. Not always, but many of us are speaking what we want here, so I gave my wife example words of affirmation.

I told her how nice you look and so forth. Because that's my love language, but that wasn't her love language. Her love language was acts of service. I didn't know any of this. So even though I said positive words in her mind if I really loved her. I would been doing some of these things. So in her mind. I didn't love her. These words were cheap and she interpreted this as interpreted that's fascinating.

Would you say there's a correlation getting back to the seasons, which is what were concentrating on a date if you're doing the love language. Well, you can probably stay in spring and summer more likely in your marriage if your loving each other and doing on a regular basis in the right love language and if you're dealing with your conflicts in a positive way in solving them rather than trying to argue about them. And when the argument then yeah, you can spend more time in spring, summer, now EE said that for spring that typically identifies the honeymoon. The infatuation the blind love but you said and I want to dig into it that the couple can come back to that season of life throughout their marriage. You don't have to see, that is only the first couple years absolute now a lot of people are hearing this going. No way. I just don't believe in way past his I'm 15 years and I haven't felt springtime in our marriage since year one springtime is often the time of new beginnings and even have a new beginning at any juncture in your marriage define a new beginning that well when used when you acknowledge the past failures and you start looking for the positive things in the relationship rather than the negative things in the relationship and always or something positive in your spouse I've never met a man one something good about it.

He's a good listener like bar slip for something I would pick something I can. I'm a pathetic you're a good man even though you can't whistle. I don't believe it, but here are some of the emotion spring.

Marriage is site monies owed Warman's tender feelings. It's happiness and the attitudes are anticipation.

We go do some things differently now and optimism and gratitude. Gratitude's big in spring you are looking for the positive things you're expressing gratitude to each other and the actions you take in the spring are your planning and your communicating in your seeking help when needed in your your your reaching out to make things different. This is a spring marriage is good, and it leads to a summer marriage, which is really even better because now where we have solved a lot of those things and were relaxing in the summer marriage. So spring is good. Let me ask you this document be within the context of a couple can one feel like they're in spring and the other feel like they're in winter.

I had a man come to me one day and asked that very question.

He said duct that we took that little quiz in the book and he said I came out that we were in spring marriage and my wife came out we were in the winter marriage.

He said so which is it I said you're in a winter marriage. If one of you thinks it's winter it's winter right and I think the reason for that is that sometimes were not really in touch with each other and he was satisfied with the quality of their relationship. He was in a bubble you that she wasn't satisfied with the quality of the relationship so we can have different perceptions of our relationship now that something in it would say that she's probably doing a good job speaking is love language, but she's not getting very like you talk about summer. Let's move into summer well of summer is a time to go hiking. I don't have that relates to that summertime talk about that well at the time of satisfaction and we fill it with accomplish some things and we feel connected to each other in the summertime, but the flowers have to be watered in the summer marriage. You realize that there are thunderstorms to their thunderstorms, alcohol, and Yellowjackets mechanic allow the ground. These are unresolved conflicts that once in a while do you jump up even in the summer marriage interactions in a summer marriage is it were constructive were taking steps we are processing our differences. We've already processed a lot of them. But as I said earlier, these are the people who are attending marriage seminars and reading books all marriage and seeking spiritual growth in their lives because summer is a comfortable time in a relationship. We don't we not having a whole lot of arguments.

We will have some things that jump up once in a while, but summers very relaxed summer is it.

Would that be considered, the normal phase of marriage. If I could said it would be ideal. I think summers would be the ideal urine cruise control, but in a healthy way that's good we have others and I don't ask the question on fall quite yet that can we stick with it. Come back talk about the fall in than some other questions that relate to the seasons and they give people the practical advice that they'll need to begin to assess where they're at and where they need the seasons of their marriage, but I'd love to such solid wisdom and insight from Dr. Gary Chapman today on Focus on the Family and we have to push pause right there will have the balance of the conversation for you tomorrow.

Gary's message is so good. Every marriage experiences. These various seasons and it's important to know how to navigate those we talked about what to do if you feel you are in a winter season in your marriage and if that is where you and your spouse are living Focus on the Family is here for you and we have a great team of caring Christian counselors who can listen to your specific situation. They can pray with you and help you get on the right path. We also have our hope restored program which is doing great work for relationships that are really in trouble. This is a four day marriage intensive that offers hope and healing for you and your spouse and people who have attended say it's life-changing in our post to your follow-up. 80% of those couples are still together and doing better than ever.

If you're in a place of brokenness in your marriage.

Get in touch with us. The Lord's amazing things in those intensive's and we also have Dr. Gary Chapman's terrific book on the marriage season so we talked about today. It's titled the four seasons of marriage secrets to a lasting marriage and you can get a copy directly from us. In fact, when you make a monthly pledge to the ministry at Focus on the Family today of any amount will send you a copy as our way of saying thank you and if you can't make monthly commitment. We understand will send it to you for one-time gift as well and you can learn more about that book before seasons of marriage about our hope restored marriage intensive's and you can also donate when you give us a call number is 800 K inward family or check the episode notes for the join us again tomorrow for more this conversation with Dr. Gary Chapman and on behalf of Jim Daly in the entire team. I'm John Fuller. Thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I was convinced that nothing can change what was going on in our marriage and I want to try anymore but my commitment to God, help me try one more time. We went to a hope restored marriage intensive and it was life-changing.

The counselors created the safest environment we can imagine, so that let us really talk much different course now I believe we received a miracle that week received your free consultation. Hope

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