If you are like me, getting through winter is a race to the spring finish line. I am one of those people who identify with all of the seasons, capitalizing on the pluses and minuses of each, but spring—that is my sweet spot.
It erases the dark and dreary days of winter. Its longer days transform our energy and rejuvenate not only how we show up in our lives, but also where we do.
Can a change of seasons empower a change of heart? If spring can put a bounce back in our step, can it do the same for our hearts and our relationships overall?
Last year, a client of mine who was barely tolerating her multi-decade marriage was having an especially bad winter. Her husband had retired and decided that he no longer wanted the trappings of the family life and marriage they had built together. He wanted to spend his time thousands of miles away, beaching and boating and powering down. He wanted her to do the same along with him.
She wanted nothing to do with this new life. She simply was not ready for it, and she felt abandoned, especially during the cold, dark, long and lonely winter months on her own. She longed for the familiar and was fearful of the unknown. She was ready to end her marriage.
For the entire winter, she felt like a victim, acting like this predicament had "happened to her," and she was angry. She had invested almost 30 years in a marriage that she envisioned had gone south, literally, and she was at a loss to understand why. Why had her marriage become dysfunctional? Why did she no longer recognize her husband, or even herself, in their traditional roles?
We actually spoke a lot about nature and our environment. She loved taking long power walks, even in the dead of a cold spell. I decided to tap into her connection to nature to illustrate life. Our sessions taking place on some really cold winter days focused a lot on the changing seasons. What did each season offer us? Was there a bigger lesson to learn?
The answer was yes!
Renewal and transformation is an ongoing process. It is not a one and done experience. Much like the seasons, reinvention takes place as part of a cycle of events. Winter can be especially revealing, as the naked trees teach us a thing or two about vulnerability and having the courage to be alone with our own thoughts and decisions. Spring demands more from us. There is a beauty, and a rebirth of animals and activity and color and growth. Summer provides a lull, a shift to pausing, and regrouping, and possibility. Fall signals business whipping in with a crisp return to priorities, helping us to access what remains and what gets discarded.
For my client, once spring arrived, she awoke! It was as if the birds (or perhaps her coach) had been whispering in her ear—whispering for her to lean into the flow of her life. She was trying to hold on to something exactly as it always was without embracing the possibility that it had changed, and with that change, acceptance and renewal was necessary. She was having a change of heart about what was next for her and her husband. Her ability to see the situation from a position of acceptance and choice allowed her to welcome in the transformation that was necessary to keep her marriage afloat.
Ready for a change of heart? Whether powering through a breakup or piecing it back together, try these steps:
- Be in the moment. Be curious and willing to discover.
- Let go. Discard whatever is draining your energy and, like the trees, welcome in the next season of leaves and buds to enrich your soul.
- Love who you are. We change, and not everyone changes at the same pace. Pause to reconnect. How can you lean into the possibilities?
- Let your anger work for you. Getting angry can be centering IF it is released for the greater good. Anger can promote action and movement and growth. If you are angry with yourself or your spouse, what will it take for you to do something about that? What will be different for you once you do allow for change and choice?
- You know how things were; do you absolutely know how they are going to be? Don't get into the habit of writing the ending of this chapter of your story. Let the story, like the beauty of the season, carry you forward in real time. What can you do? What's next?
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