We are doing a little fun Marriage Monday series on the Four Seasons of Marriage! While each Season can bring good and bad, I think we can all agree that overall Summer is usually a pretty great Season! So... we began with Summer last month, since it is technically Summer and also because it feels a bit more like Summer in our marriage right now too (in a great way)!! Yay! Just for a recap, we mentioned that our marriage seasons can change quickly just like regular seasons. The only difference is sometimes we can't predict when that seasonal change will occur, so it's important to be prepared at all times. A Summer Season in a marriage brings a bit more relaxation, playfulness and enjoyment. This usually includes a little more time to dream together, take long walks together (even tho it's hot. LOL), etc. In summer, you usually aren't in the hustle and bustle of the rhythm of Fall, so you can relax together a bit more than usual! Did I mention how much we love Summer?! Heehee. We also mentioned tho that in the midst of Summer, the occasional thunderstorm may roll in for us to work thru, but overall, it's a pretty relaxed season.
However...the down side to Summer can be that we may get a bit too relaxed! (You may be thinking, ' is there really such a thing?' Ha-ha). We may not be quite as intentional as we should and therefore let our guards down a bit....but thankfully, Fall is right around the corner and even tho we love Summer, seasonal changes are necessary! They are necessary for growth, especially! We all know that if it stayed Summer year round, the heat would eventually kill everything! Thank goodness for seasonal changes! So...we wanted to talk a bit about Fall and what that looks like in marriage! You're gonna need your imagination for this one, especially if you live in Florida and it's 90 something degrees! Feel free to turn the air down and sit in front of a fan (with a cup of coffee or tea, of course) while you read this (pretend Fall is coming. LOL).
Fall is a time for new routines, new schedules, new rhythms! A time to take inventory and have a bit of a fresh start. When it cools off a bit and we get ready to begin new routines in life, it's a good time to take stock in our marriages as well and maybe even establish new patterns! While I know some people LIVE for Fall...for cooler weather, for the stability that a structured schedule brings, we are not so much those kinds of people. We honestly both have to fight for that and make ourselves be a little more rhythm and structured than most do. We love the Freedom of Summer! (hee-hee). Yet, we also know that we can easily "fall" back into old habits in Summer if we get too relaxed. We can forget to keep our guards up and forget that the enemy is fighting to destroy our marriage daily. Therefore, the Fall Season of Marriage is a time for us to BE INTENTIONAL! A time to really focus on what we will do to grow & strengthen our marriage and make it a priority! Even tho Fall usually means jumping right back into busy schedules with kids, jobs, church, etc, it's a time us to plan our dates, to put our guards back up and not allow ourselves to be vulnerable to attack. We have learned a few valuable lessons here....maybe even some the hard way.
We have learned that if we are not intentional in our relationship with each other, someone or something else will be. Someone/something else can easily steal the time we weren't intentional with. It can steal our hearts and steal our love, if we don't guard it and make it a priority! Fall is a time for us to bring things back into Focus and Commit to a new year together. A new year of Love. A new year of growing together. A new year of learning! Okay, you may be asking what in the world does this look like practically? So, we will share a few ideas, here. After all, this blog is just a bunch of meaningless words unless it gives you the encouragement and tips you need to succeed in your own Season of Marriage! And of course that's what we want for each of you! So here goes...
FALL MARRIAGE TIPS:
1. FALL INTO FOCUS:
Carve out some intentional time to sit down and take inventory of where you've been in the last year of your marriage and what direction you want to head. Do you have dreams together that you haven't been able to accomplish? Now is a great time to jot down some ideas to plan for those dreams to happen! Are you happy with where you've been in your marriage this past year? If not, it's time to come up with a new plan! Do you need a new routine? a new structure for your marriage? Need to read a new marriage book together or do a new marriage Bible study together? There is truly so so much help available for this! See Focus on the Family's website for more information! They have a wealth of information for marriage support and encouragement! Don't let time go by without evaluating where you've been and where you want to go in your marriage. We have not always been super intentional in this area of our marriage, but are excited to put it on the calendar to have an intentional "Fall into Focus" date soon!
2. GET YOUR GUARD UP:
Okay, this one may sound a bit unnecessary to some, but it's been a total game changer for us! Fall is definitely a time to take inventory and figure out how you need to guard your marriage! Do you need to guard it against time stealers? That may look like blocking out time on your calendar for dates! Do you need to guard it against impurity (mostly talking about visual images)? Hmm. That's a tough one! Not an easy one to talk about, right? Certainly necessary tho. One thing that has worked for us in that area is Setting up accountability (with each other and with others). Allen has a group of guys he meets with to pray for one another, encourage each other, and of course hold each other accountable. It's a whole lot harder for us all to give into temptation if we know a friend will be asking us the next week how we are doing and we know we have to give an account! Some may not see this as necessary, but we will tell you straight up... in this world where darkness is prevalent and so in your face, ACCOUNTABILITY has been a huge key to our success in marriage! Our marriage could not have survived without it! We have had so many amazing brothers and sisters in Christ come alongside us to encourage us, strengthen us, pray for us and check in on us! That's huge, y'all!!! In addition to giving others permission to hold us accountable (and Yes, I have some "sisters" who do this for me, as well), Allen and I help hold each other accountable as well! There are no "secrets" in our marriage! Some examples of this are: Computers are used in open spaces for all to see! If we are going to be on social media, we try to do that when we are together or with others and not alone. We also have a full disclosure policy. If at any time, the other asks to see our phone or asks how the other is doing, we are quick to share details and be up front with each other...even if we are struggling. We know that we are a safe place for each other to share when we are struggling and need help or just when we may be feeling weak/vulnerable. This also is a game changer in our marriage! Accountability & Full Disclosure Policy! It's a must!
There's so much more we could say about putting your guards up, but we'll save it for another time. For now, we just wanted to leave you with those few tips...TO BE INTENTIONAL, TO FIND NEW FOCUS, AND TO MAKE SURE YOUR GUARD IS UP & YOU ARE PROTECTING YOUR MARRIAGE! It doesn't take much for us to get relaxed and not pay enough attention to our marriages and then the next thing you know, we are sliding into a Winter season of struggling. We'll dig into that Season next time.
We are certainly not certified marriage therapists, but we have learned so much in our (almost) 23 years of marriage together and love sharing with others so we can be an encouragement to other marriages! We love seeing marriages succeed and want to encourage you by letting you know that your marriage is worth the fight! Do not give up! And don't forget...
The prize is worth the price!
Cheering you on,
Allen & Carol