The Four Seasons of Marriage
Life is full of unanticipated changes. The manner in which couples process these changes will determine the quality of their marriages. The interweaving of our emotions, attitudes, and actions creates the quality of our relationship during any of these seasons of marriage. Emotions must lead to reason, and reason must be guided by truth if we are to take constructive action.
Winter - "Just as most people wouldn't lie down in the snow and wait to die, there's no reason to passively accept the coldness of a wintry season in marriage. There is always a way out, and it begins with hope."
Spring - "Change is perceived as an opportunity for new beginnings, and springtime couples fully expect to make the best of those opportunities."
Summer - "If our marriage is in the season of summer, we will share a deep sense of commitment and satisfaction. And we will feel secure in each other's love . . . Summer does not equal perfection, but it does mean that couples in this season have a sense of accomplishment and a desire to keep growing."
Fall - "It takes both spouses to move a marriage from Fall to Spring, but it takes only one to move from Fall to Winter. The way we think and actions we take make all the difference."
The Essential Nature of Marriage - Committed, United, Intimate, Purposeful, Complementary. Husbands and wives were designed by God to complement each other. Our marriage relationship can enhance the effectiveness with which we serve God and raise our children.
Question - What brings most couples to the Winter season of Marriage?
Strategies to Enhance the Seasons of Your Marriage
1. Deal with past failures. Why is it important to look at our own failures first when dealing with past hurts
And the heavens proclaim his righteousness,
for God himself is judge. - Psalm 50:6
O Lord, you took up my case;
you redeemed my life.
You have seen, O LORD, the wrong done to me.
Uphold my cause! - Lamentations 3:58-59
This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. - Zechariah 7:9
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. - Matthew 7:2-5
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done."To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. - Romans 2:1-7
It isn't always easy to let go of hurts; in fact, sometimes it's very difficult. Love, however, "keeps no record of wrongs" (1 Corinthians 13:5)
2. Choose A Winning Attitude
"The most common mistake couples make is allowing negative emotions to dictate their behavior" True or False? Discuss
Circumstances are neutral - or at least common. It's not what happens to us but how we interpret them. True or False? Discuss
Characteristics of a Christian Worldview
Every human being is made in the image of God and is therefore extremely valuable.
Each person is uniquely gifted by God (including the mentally and physically challenged)
Each person has a unique role to play in life
Marriage is God's idea. Husbands and wives are intended to complement each other.
The object of marriage is to glorify God by serving one's spouse and helping the spouse reach his or her God-given potential.
How do you think these characteristics foster a positive attitude?
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. - Romans 14:17-19
How can these verses be applied to marriage?
3. Maximize Your Differences
"After 30 years of counseling married couples, I am convinced there are no irreconcilable differences, only people who refuse to reconcile . . . When each spouse recognizes and affirms the other's uniqueness, the differences themselves weld the couple into an unbeatable team."
Four Steps to Maximize Your Differences
* Identify your differences
* Look for assets in your differences
* Learn from your differences
* Replace condemnation with affirmation
Think about what irritates you about your spouse in an area where you are different. Why do these things irritate you? What differences do these irritations reveal?
In most cases, the reason we get irritated is because your spouse doesn't do something the way you would do it. How does this idea correspond to our human tendency to be egocentric?
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. - Romans 14:19
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. - Ephesians 4:29
And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. - 2 Timothy 2:24
Discuss how these truths offer wisdom for maximizing our differences.
Emotions make " . . . wonderful servants, but terrible masters" - Dallas Willard
"And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. - Colossians 3:10-17
We might know that Jesus can make all things new, but perhaps we haven't trusted him for it. If we feel alone, perhaps we haven't fully seen the power we have been given and the Man on the journey with us.
"I asked Jesus to transform the abused, embarrassing, dishonest understanding I had of submission. I asked Jesus to show me how He would submit. And He redeemed the idea for me, not by removing the task, but by showing me how God is made great when I bend my knee" -from Ruby Slippers by Jonalyn Grace Fincher