Four Seasons of Marriage: Winter

Taken from Dr. Gary Chapman’s Four Seasons of Marriage.

fourseasons by gary chapman

Marriage has its Seasons
Marriage has its ups and downs, its joys and sorrows. Just as there are four seasons in the natural, Gary Chapman describes four seasons in marriage. These seasons can be determined by the choices we make or by circumstances that we cannot control. In order to build a healthy, intimate, and God-honoring marriage, we must discern what season our marriage is in and respond appropriately.

Marital Seasons Profile
Choose one word or phrase that best represents your thoughts and feelings about your marriage during the past few weeks, then tally up the number of answers you have for each corresponding column.[1]
1. discouraging / exciting / satisfying / uncertain
2. hopeless / happy / peaceful / confusing
3. empty / hopeful / committed / stressful
4. harsh / nurturing / secure / frustrating
5. resentful / open / trusting / tired
6. destructive / fresh / relaxed / distant
7. rejection / anticipation / appreciation / apprehension
8. tension / sharing / honest / drifting
9. give up / making plans / teamwork / apathetic
10. critical / caring / connected / concerned
11. angry / joyful / understanding / burned out
12. disappointed / optimistic / comfortable / neglectful
13. untrusting / tender / supportive / afraid
14. withdrawn / growing / attached / detached
15. cold / alive / content / prideful
16. unforgiving / willing to change / overlook flaws / growing apart

 

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some of the characteristics of a marriage that’s in the winter season? If you’ve personally seen such a marriage can you describe what it was like?
     
  2. Read aloud the following excerpt from Gary Chapman’s book:
    “If your marriage is in winter, it may appear beyond hope. But don’t give up. 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 marriage. There is a way out, and it begins with hope. The coldness of winter often stimulates a desire for healing and health. It is the sick who seek a physician and find healing. A winter marriage often makes couples desperate enough to break out of their silent suffering and seek the help of a counselor, pastor, or trusted friend… God can use marital winters for good. Working through the season of winter may never be “fun” or “exciting”… but when couples persevere and begin to take positive steps to improve their marriage, they emerge stronger, more committed, and better able to work through their differences… When the failures of winter are confessed and forgiven, forgiveness makes room for love, and “love covers over a multitude of sins”… The good news is that forgiveness and God’s power are always available to those who seek them. When two people choose to love again, the melting ice of winter will water the seeds of spring, and winter has served its ultimate purpose.” (Chapman, p. 19)
     
  3. Read aloud Matthew 13:15-16. What does this passage say about the hardened heart? Why is it necessary to deal first with a hardened heart before it’s possible to heal a marriage?

    Matt. 13:15-16 (NIV), For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.

  4. Imagine a friend has shared with you about the serious problems in his/her winter marriage. What can you say that would be helpful? What should you not say?
     
  5. Read aloud Song of Songs 2:10-12. What is the positive side of the winter season of marriage? What are some things you can do to move your marriage toward spring or to keep it from moving deeper into the winter?

    Song of Songs 2:10-12, My lover spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. 11 See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. 12 Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”

     

Click the following for an overview of the four seasons of marriage.

Footnotes
  1. The first column corresponds with winter, then spring, summer, and fall. The highest score you can have in one category is 16.

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