Book Review by Neziswa Kanju
The 4 Seasons of Marriage is a book from a long list of resources on marriage and family by Gary Chapman.
Gary Demonte Chapman (born January 10, 1938) is a relationship counsellor and author of the bestseller The 5 Love Languages series. He is the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc. He is the author of numerous other books published by Moody Publishers/Northfield Publishing, including Anger, The Family You’ve Always Wanted, The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, Desperate Marriages, God Speaks Your Love Language, How to Really Love Your Adult Child, and Hope for the Separated.
In The 4 Seasons of Marriage Dr Chapman outlines how all marriages go through four seasons through their lifespan. He describes the signs, different emotions, attitudes and actions associated with a winter, summer, autumn or spring marriage. He describes each season starting with winter. He says most couples that come through his doors are couples who are in a winter marriage. Marriages that are in winter are characterised by coldness, harshness and bitterness. Some couples typically live in a cold silence. They lead independent lives though they live in the same house. Chapman says a winter may last a month, or it may last 30 years. It may begin three months after the wedding or hit in the midlife years. Harsh words, violent acts, or withdrawal and silence are some of the actions of winter. Eventually couples become detached emotionally and sometimes physically.
Describing an autumn marriage he says: “Without a doubt, the number one contributor to the autumn season of marriage -overwhelmingly- is the action of neglect, or taking no action at all. The underlying assumption is that the marriage will take care of itself. Husbands and wives have their own separate lives; they forget to do the kind of things that foster positive marital relationship. Consequently they grow apart.”
Chapman explains that the beginning of a marriage is when it is in the spring season. Spring symbolises new beginnings, excitement, freshness. A couple will have new beginnings at different times of their marriage. A summer marriage is the kind of marriage we all aspire to have. The celebrated author and counsellor reminds his readers that couples who are successful at having an extended season of summer in their marriage are ones who have learned to maintain what they have attained. When couples communicate openly with each other, they are far more likely to find workable solutions to what could otherwise be serious problems in their marriage.
Chapman holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively. He is a graduate of the Moody Bible Institute. He also received Master of Religious Education (M.R.E.) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. As impressive as all these credentials are that are listed in his biography, none impresses more than the fact that Dr Chapman has been married for more than 50 years to his wife Karloyn. Married since he was 23 it is from this lifetime of experience that he is able to counsel and help the many thousands of couples that go to his office or that he impacts through his marriage and family seminars in the US and all over the world.
Chapman admits that his own marriage was a winter marriage in the early years. He says if he did not believe in covenant he would have left during those challenging, tumultuous years. Describing his marriage now as “very loving, very caring and very supportive” Chapman points out that a marriage does not get to a summer or spring marriage without the couple being intentional in making it a success. One of the most powerful statements I read from the book is: “God did not create marriage to make us miserable. Most marriages end in divorce because individuals get tired of being miserable.”
Throughout the book Chapman shares strategies to enhance the seasons of your marriage. Some of these strategies are: Dealing with your past; Choosing a winning attitude; Maximising each other’s differences and helping your spouse succeed. The strategies are for marital growth and to help the reader initiate positive change.
Whether you have been married for 4, 14 or 40 years The 4 Seasons of Marriage has pearls of wisdom and practical advice to guide and help you on your journey. An easy read that you can read alone or with your spouse this book has advice that you can start applying even if you have an uncommitted spouse who does not want to put in the time or the work to make your marriage better. Chapman gives many examples of couples who were on the verge of divorce but through applying the principles that are outlined in this book began to see noticeable improvements in their marriages after six months ; improvements that took them from winter to spring. He says the seasons of marriage are not chronological. The seasons repeat themselves numerous times throughout a marriage.
What began in the city of Winston-Salem as a pastor giving marriage and family classes to couples to his local church has become a worldwide ministry reaching millions through his many books, radio programme and marriage seminars. ThousandS flock to his seminars and millions more buy his books because Dr Chapman provides solutions that work.
Invest in your own marriage by purchasing this book from a Christian bookstore.