Small Group Questions

Radical Relationships: How to fight for your marriage in the seasons of life.   

Introduction:

Spring, summer, winter, fall. Marriages are perpetually in a state of transition, continually moving from one season to another—perhaps not annually, as in nature, but just as certainly and consistently. Sometimes we find ourselves in winter; other times it is in springtime and then summer and finally fall. The cycle repeats itself throughout the life of a marriage, just as the seasons repeat themselves in nature. The seasons of marriage come and go. Each one holds the potential for emotional health and happiness, and each one has its challenges. The purpose of this message is to describe these recurring seasons of marriage, help you and your spouse identify which season your marriage is in, and show you how to enhance your marriage in all four seasons.

Something To Talk About:

  1. Springtime: The season of busyness: Spring is a season of transition…and a welcome one. Everything seems fresh, new, and exciting. It is a time for making changes in our lives. Spring is where most marriages begin, the excitement of creating a new life together under a covenant marriage commitment. “To love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, so long as we both shall live.” These words have the ring of spring. What could be more exciting than joining two lives together to help each other accomplish the purposes for which they were created? We often don’t like change and transition, but everybody loves springtime. The “Spring” of marriage is the time of productivity and being busy. Instead of letting the busyness of life take over, you have to find time to say “No” to other things to say “Yes” to the marriage. The overall climate of spring is one of the great hopes for the future. Planting seeds from which they hope to reap a harvest of happiness. 
  2. Summer: The season of greatness: The “Summer” of marriage is a time of rest and relaxation where you have time to work at the marriage because you have the space to do it. Summer is the season when the gardener reaps the benefits of what was planted and nurtured in the spring. In the summer season, dreams of spring have come true. In summer, resolving conflicts is done in a positive manner. Husbands and wives have a growing sense of togetherness. Fun is also the theme of a summer marriage. We are reaping the benefits of our hard efforts to understand each other and to work together as a team to see the dreams of spring fulfilled. The anticipation of spring has turned into the reality of summer. 
  3. Fall: The season of change: The “Fall” of marriage is the time of big change. Whether it’s a career change, having more kids or losing a loved one, change happens and it can cause a lot of stress on the marriage. The most colorful season of the year, a prelude to winter. Soon the chilling winds will rip off the leaves, leaving the tree bare. Couples realize there are issues they are not facing squarely. Each blames the other for the issues. If they have lived in the fall season for a while, their family and friends may be recognizing the changes. Couples are usually in the early stages of fall before they realize it. They have been busy with activities, enjoying life but sometimes ignoring each other. They are living in the afterglow of summer, but each is slowly disengaging. The uncertainties of fall can be redemptive if they turn in the right direction or they can end up in winter if they stay the course
  4. Winter: The season of loss: In the north, people speak of cold winters, harsh winters, snowy winters, icy winters, and bitter winters. Life is much harder in the winter than it is in the summer. Winter marriages are characterized by coldness, harshness, and bitterness. The dreams of spring are covered with layers of ice, and the weather forecast calls for more freezing rain. If the husband and wife have a conversation, it is merely about logistics: who will do what and when. If they try to talk about their relationship, it typically ends in an argument that goes unresolved. Some couples simply live in cold silence. Essentially, they lead independent lives though they live in the same house. Each spouse blames the other for the coldness of the relationship. Winter may last a month, or it may last thirty years. It may begin three months after the wedding or hit in the midlife years. It may focus on one problem area or encompass all of life. 

Discussion Questions: 

  1. What jumped out at you from this sermon? 
  2. How often do you get your car checked out or the oil changed? Why do you suppose couples rarely, if ever, get a “checkup” on their relationship in every season?
  3. What season do you think you are currently in? What has been the most challenging season in your marriage so far? Why do you say this? How can you better live in this current “season?”
  4. What does the “springtime” of marriage look like for you and your spouse? Explain the pluses and the negatives of this season.
  5. Summer is the time to plan, develop, improve, fine-tune, labor, create, or build. Agree or disagree and why? What are some ways you can invest your time in working on your marriage during the “summer” season? How can those benefit you in fall, winter, and spring?
  6. Winter is the time of our lives when we ask God to show us how to live in our purpose. We ask him to show us how to wait on Him as we rest, reflect, and let go. We ask him to show us how to emerge from the darkness, into a new life, a new spring. Agree or disagree and why? 
  7. What are you doing now to prepare for the “winter” of marriage (or if you’re in “winter,”) how have you previously prepared? What are some sources of support you can turn to?
  8. Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. What does this teach us about life? How do these verses apply to this topic?
  9. Is there a step you need to take based on today’s topic?

Take one thing home with you:

Ray Stevens sang a song called “Everything Is Beautiful” that included the lyric “Everything is beautiful in its own way.” The Bible says it differently in Ecclesiastes 3:11: “God has made everything beautiful for its own time” (NIV). That’s very different from “Everything is beautiful in its own way.” Because the Bible is saying that God can take even the bad things and, in the proper season, turn them around and use them for good in the way He intends. You may be going through a season right now that is not beautiful. Your finances don’t look good. Your health is not good. Your marriage is going south. Your friends are distant. But God can make something good out of it as you trust Him with the pieces.