Autumn is the season of change, symbolising impermanence. As the days grow shorter, and the leaves begin to change, there is a sense of heightened awareness of the coming coolness.
As they say in House Stark "Winter is Coming".
In the relationship cycle, autumn is the time to harvest what you have sown & grown. It is the time for abundance and celebration. To mark the ripeness & maturity of your successes together after all the dreams of spring, and the hard work of summer, have come to fruition.
Autumn is time to reconnect with your loved ones, to share your bounty, to honour change and express gratitude. It can be a bittersweet transition when times are tough, and the cold hard breath of winter is whispering. It can also be glorious when times are sweet.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF IT'S AUTUMN IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
You are in the autumn of your relationship when you are coming to the end of a chapter of your lives. You might be in a new home, your kids might be starting or leaving school, or perhaps you are entering a new phase of your career or business.
Many couples experience abundance in their harvest. The rewards for them meet, or exceed their expectations. Other couples are shocked or devastated by their results. From redundancy, to bankruptcy, to divorce, this was not what they dreamed for their lives.
For some people, fear kicks in hard at this time. They are suddenly face-to-face with the actual results of their work throughout the summer. Results don't lie.
The trap here is to equate your disappointment in your harvest, with the potential of your relationship, or the nature of your partner. This is the time when many couples decide “we just aren’t compatible”, “I love them, but I’m not in love with them” or that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
This is CRAZY. It's like planting an apple orchard, nurturing it, then harvesting lots of apples. But you fucking hate apples. But then making it "oh, maybe Jane is just an apple kind-of-gal, we're not compatible" instead of just growing pears WHICH YOU LOVE... or making cider... Whatever the equivalent of that is for you; emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically. The autumn will be the time that you measure your expectations against your reality.
WHAT IS THE ENERGY OF AUTUMN IN LOVE?
The energy in this Season of Love is of Finishing.
Many people are great Starters, who always have a bunch of new projects on the go (it me!), others are brilliant Maintainers, who keep things ticking over but sometimes lack the initiative to start new (or finish old) things. And the rare few have the strength, drive, and discipline to be strong Finishers, as well as great Starters & Maintainers.
Finishing energy is the difference between an endless grind, and success. It's that final push to get things over the line. It is the attention to detail that takes things from good enough, to great. That last 20% effort. This is definitely an energy I have had to work really hard to develop, and doesn't come naturally to me (Starting is my jam).
In order to be able to finish things, we need to be skilled in setting outcomes, knowing the criteria for "what does finished look like" and have the decision making skills to know when to keep pushing, and when to end things before they are complete.
WHAT DO WE DO IN THE AUTUMN OF LOVE?
1. Harvest. This season is for harvesting the rewards of a successful summer. What that means in a relationship context is that it is time to FINISH things. What do you need to finish in terms of your plans and projects that will allow you to reap the rewards?
What do Do: As a couple, it is helpful to clearly identify what it is that you have CREATED together. What is your harvest? What have you planted, nurtured, and grown together? What is ripe and ready to be picked? [Here is a quick guide to help you identify some of the things you might 'harvest', and a worksheet to notice which facets of life could use more time, energy, and attention.]
2. Let it Go. As the trees release their leaves, so do we do best to let go of that which no longer serves us. One of the greatest mistakes I see couple make is to insist that their decisions, plans, roles, and lives, remain static. This is the time to face the truth of your efforts. Has your harvest been plentiful? Will it sustain you in the inevitable winter? Are you delighted with your bounty? or have you perhaps been stuck on a path that has led you to feeling dissatisfied? What do you need to let go of? Is there a little thing to let go?
What to Do: Finish things in order to close this chapter. That might mean completing projects that you held high hopes for which have run their course. Own your outcomes & cut your losses.
3. Celebrate. Many couples live in a perpetual summer, always working and never taking time to notice how sweet life can be. Autumn is the perfect season to bring together your family & friends, to enjoy the balmy evenings, and to celebrate your life today. Regardless of the quality or quantity of your harvest. Life can be hard, and cruel, and so we celebrate to deepen our connections to each other.
What to Do: Book an evening with your partner to reflect on your many successes, from resilience in hard times, to abundance and success. Literally celebrate with family & friends - hold a gathering of your loved ones. Make it fancy. Make it pot luck. It matters not.
4. Mend Fences. It's so easy to crack on with our heads down, and bums up. Suddenly you realise you haven't spoken to an old friend in years, haven't called your family, or have otherwise lost touch with the people who matter. Maybe there is an old rift that is ready to be healed.
When you find yourself in winter (and it IS coming), the people in your life will be the ones you love & support you through. This is a natural part of the cycle. Don't feel bad, just repair & reconnect!
What to Do: Reach out to your friends and family, and spend quality time with them socially. Share the bounty of your harvest with those who helped you get where you are. It takes a village to be a human.
5. Ferment. As we harvest the last of the sweet fruit and begin to shift our lives indoors, it's time to take those memories, learnings, and ideas and let them ferment. That is, allow them to sit and develop depth & complexity.
There are things that are sweet right now, that you could experience as instant gratification, but sometimes when they are left to mature then they become even more rewarding.
What to Do: Take some of your harvest and put it aside for another year. This could be investing money, developing ideas, postponing completion of an ongoing interest. Your lifetime together and the love you create is the result of your wisdom & kindness over time.
HOW DO WE MOVE TO WINTER?
Winter is the Chuck Norris in this piece. You won't find winter, it will find you. Most people try to trigger it by going straight from the Finishing, to the Feedback. That can make life, like, pretty serious man!
Don't rush through this season. Autumn done right is hygge, and sensual, and to be savoured. On an annual (micro) cycle, take the full 3 months to celebrate before you shift your attention to the reflective energy of winter. On a macro scale, your autumn will be between 1 - 2 years long, depending on what is happening in your lives.
So eat! Drink! Be merry! And love each other, that's all that matters.