0423 953 366

tara@thesugardoctor.com.au

Quarterly Relationship Review: What to Do in the Winter of Love

Relationship cycles: winter

Winter is the season of death, reminding us that all things come to an end. The days are short, cold, and dark. For many, winter is a time of great hunger, sadness, or despair.

This is the season in which most relationships end, not realising that spring is just around the corner!

In the relationship cycle, winter is the time to rest and reflect on the seasons that have passed. It is the time for integrating experience as wisdom. For making art, making love, and dreaming of the coming spring.

Winter is time to replenish your body, mind, heart, and soul. Without rest, we deplete our energy. Couples who are always in GO mode, fail to notice that they are headed fast towards disaster.

TL;DR

Identity: Observer, Dreamer
Macro Cycle: 1 to 1.5 years in this season (of 7)
Micro Cycle: Annually in the winter, or fourth quarter of the calendar year.
Theme: Rest & Reflect
Focus: Plan & Dream
Action: Fallow

The Seasons of Love | Autumn | Winter | Spring | Summer

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF IT IS THE WINTER OF LOVE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

This one is easy to identify - it FEELS like there is a coldness in your relationship. Perhaps you know you LOVE each other, but no longer feel like you are IN LOVE. Maybe you are wondering if this is the partner for you, or if your relationship has run its' course.

It can also be as simple as ending a chapter of your life, then taking a pause before beginning new things. With practice & purpose, this will be a time of joy and nourishment.

For couples who had an unhappy harvest, the winter of love can feel like the death of hope. As they say, the best laid plans of mice & men often go awry... what that means is that no matter how well you have planned, life is unpredictable.

Some people find themselves dragged into what feels like perpetual winter. It could be that the rewards of autumn were fewer than expected. More likely, you have been served with one of life's low blows... the death of a loved one,  poor health diagnosis,  financial crisis, or one of the multitudes of other lows that life can hold.

This does NOT mean that you are with the wrong partner! You know, it is just naive to think that life will be easy breezy. And a lot of the time people stick together through winter, only to find when the crisis is over they have depleted their resources and have nothing left.

Do not fear! It isn't all a frozen wasteland! There is help, and hope, and spring is on the way.

WHAT IS THE ENERGY IN THE WINTER OF LOVE?

A wooden cabin in a snowy landscape in front of snow covered trees

The energy in this Season of Love is Rest & Replenish.

So you have finished your projects & achieved your goals in the autumn, what now?

In the winter, we reconnect to our beloved and get to know them all over again, this wiser and older version of the one we fell in love with. We dream together and fantasise about how we want the next 7 years to look, and what we want to actualise in our lives. We celebrate our love, our joy, our hardship, our grief, and the lessons we want to bring with us.

But first: rest. 

Build white space into your life to do nothing. Get bored. That means, just sitting and looking into space, sleeping, eating. This will help to reset your nervous system and down regulate your body from your constant mode of Get Shit Done. Not reading, watching Netflix, planning, just nothing. Of course I understand that there is still life, work, family... so from a practical perspective this means no projects, no hustle, only maintain what you must.

Make. Time. To .Rest.

Then,

Rest some more. Imagine you are recovering from a long illness of your body, mind, or spirit, and bring your attention to nourishment. Eat soup, sleep, play, laugh, paint, read, make love, dream. You can make notes on thoughts that occur to you but keep them as open seeds of ideas & observations. This is not a time for action.

Observe nature around you, slow down, and bring your awareness into your home, your body, your spirit.

WHAT DO WE DO IN THE WINTER OF LOVE?

A white mug with a red cosy and a red bowl of popcorn in front of an open fire

1. Rest. Did I mention rest? We are creatures of the natural world, and the more we build the rhythms of nature into our lives, the happier, healthier, and more fulfilled we become.

What do Do: As a couple, decide on a time frame for rest. I suggest on a micro cycle (annual) that you allow a minimum of 4 weeks (6 would be wonderful!). On a macro cycle (the 7 year cycle), aim for at least 6 months (9 months is ideal). During this period you aren't planning or actively doing anything (outside of the musts). So, no weekend projects, no DIY, no plans, nothing outside of your regular routine.

2. Slow Down. Bring your awareness to the minute domestic moments that make up our lives. Enjoy cooking, listening to music, conversations with your family. Notice when your thoughts stray to "what's next?" and return to the present. Truly the antidote to stress is to connect in a purposeful & meaningful way with your loved ones.

What to Do: Take this one literally! Cook together. Play, or listen to music together. Eat together at the dinner table. Light candles. Talk. Laugh.

3. Pursue Pleasure. Take a break from Strive & Drive, and pretend that you are snowed in to your home for the winter. What a gorgeous time to explore pleasure & play! Maybe it's time to tap into that creative streak (especially if you're "not creative") and learn a new skill, paint, craft, make. I know I said No Projects, but this is different. This is about joy in the process, not goal oriented outcomes.

What to Do: What have you always wanted to learn? What do you wish you could do as a couple? What fills your cup and your soul? Try: Singing, Dancing, Dance Lessons, Painting, Making Things, Cooking, Playing an Instrument, Learning a Language, Making Love, Reading, Playing Games.

4. Reflect. What are the wonderful things that you achieved in the autumn. What will you celebrate? What things didn't go so well? What do you wish you had done? What do you wish you hadn't done?

What to Do:
i. Download PDF with winter reflections here.
ii. Under the heading 'Celebrate', spend ten minutes together making a list of all things wonderful (great & small).
iii. Reflect on the 40 Powerful Questions in the PDF. How do these apply to your life?
iv. Consider the different facets of your life in the PDF. Read the 'elements to consider' and reflect on how this applies to the different facets of your life.
v. Make some notes on what is working really well (under the heading "keep"), what isn't working ("ditch"), and where you could use some strategy & education ("level up").

5. Dream. From the warmth of your winter cabin, ease into the slow dreamy rhythms of fantasy. Think about your life & relationship over the coming months, years, decades. Try on some different dreams and see how they feel - do you want to travel? put down roots? do you have lifelong dreams to fulfil?

What to Do: Think about the different ways your life might play out. Notice your desires & dreams, and get curious about the possibilities.

6. Learn. Winter is a wonderful time to integrate the wisdom of seasons past. Have you noticed themes in your successes & failures? There is no wisdom without action. What that means is your reflections are just musings unless you calibrate & implement change in your life.

What to Do: Which areas have you decided to ditch or level up? You have this incredible gift of space & time to learn new things. Use it! Pick an aspect of your life where you have decided to Level Up, and start learning! Read books, find podcasts, YouTube videos, courses... Time to upskill.

7. Plan. As the last frost passes and there are hints of the coming spring, you can start getting into the logistics & planning phase. You should now know where you want to head, have refined your skills, and have a sense of what needs to happen now.

What to Do: Spend time together planning the coming seasons. What do you want to harvest in the autumn? What will you need to start in the spring? Which new things do you want to try together?

HOW DO WE MOVE TO THE SPRING OF LOVE?

Wooden cabin in front of snow topped mountains surrounded by purple spring flowers in the grass.

Most relationships end in the winter. We are so programmed now to be always moving forwards, that to stand still even for a moment is unbearable.

As in nature, rushing into the spring is not advisable. Think of the tender shoots of your new plans & dreams being killed by a late frost. That is, you have started to DO before you even know what went right or wrong.

Winter done right is rejuvenating for your body, heart, and soul. Couples who take time to do this well, start their next cycle on the same page and are much more likely to finish it together. On an annual (micro) cycle, take the full 3 months to reflect, dream, and plan before you shift your energy to the DOING of spring. On a macro scale, take a full year to 18 months before you begin the next chapter.

This season holds the keys to the longevity of your love- to passion, meaning & freedom. Luxuriate in the space!