Bond through life passages — 02 December 2011
Managing the seasons of your marriage – Part II

The periods of emotional fluctuation within marriages can be likened to the seasonal changes of nature. They are both normal, cyclical and serve the purpose of balancing nature. Each season has its own function in facilitating the evolution and preservation of life.

Part I of this column covered two seasons in love relationships: spring and summer. Spring is the time of infatuation, romance and elation. Feeling euphoric about the mutual attraction, admiration and in the fortune of being so mutually in love. This stage is so consuming of one’s time, energy, emotions and enthusiasm that it cannot be sustained indefinitely. It is followed by the summer season in which the heat forces the pair to create some distance to avoid becoming engulfed by each other and in order to recapture one’s breath and personal identity.

Regrettably, this necessary minor distancing of the summer often escorts in the fall season for couples. Some of the enthralled leaves have fallen off and the branches are left bare blowing in the wind feeling chilled. Psychologically, this season introduces doubts, regrets, and uncertainty for couples about their original enthusiasm, their mate choice and personal lovability.

During the fall of the relationship both mates may have sensed the other’s slight disenchantment and detachment and may be nursing their hurt feelings, self doubt and sorrow about falling out of grace with the other.

Not understanding that the ‘Fall’ season is a vital part of readjusting to the appropriate level of their connection/individuation with each other, they often say, “We don’t have what we used to have with each other – the magic is gone.” This statement is tinged with deep sadness, loss and grief. They erroneously surmise that their love connection has irrevocably dissipated.

Though the couple is chagrined by their inaccurate interpretation of their less than desirable emotional state, they still come for help, yearning for ways to restore their faded love. Learning that their state is normal, expected and changeable is often greeted with ease even prior to learning the specific tools for recapturing their love.

Many pairs do not seek help about the fall season and in their hurt and sadness begin to fight with each other as their enter winter in their relationship. The cold chills, the wind and rain and even snow fall on them as their distress deepens. Their distress often intensifies as they shiver and shake in the harshness of their exchanges and their defenseless state about changing it.

Not all couples get to the ‘Winter’ season in their relationship. Many heed the fall signs and embark upon recapturing many elements of their spring.

They:

  • Refuse to fight, instead electing to talk.
  • Dare to assert their love for each other and examine how they got derailed from their     initial loving path.
  • Realize that love seasons intend to positively balance the “we” with the “me.”
  • Practice their known ‘Spring’ skills.
  • Learn to willingly love again!

 

 

June 5, 2011

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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