THE BLOG
11/18/2013 03:59 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

The Seasons of Relationships

"He's acting different."
"He's not the man I married."
"He's just not the same as he used to be."
"He's changed."

Guess what? He HAS changed. And so have YOU. Life has taught me that there is one thing for certain: everything changes. Everything. That means even your significant other. Your spouse, boyfriend, other half, husband, lover. He will change. And you will, too. Yet this is one of the biggest problems I hear from women about their relationships.

What if, instead of complaining about our partners not acting like they used to, we embraced this simple fact of life? What if we celebrated the fact that we act differently than we used to and because of this, we are growing, learning, and becoming more in alignment with our authentic selves?

As I walked my dogs this morning and looked at the fallen leaves and the frost on the grass, I was reminded that just as the seasons change, so do our relationships.

We can equate the four seasons of our weather patterns to the four seasons of our relationship. Just as someone in Hawaii experiences a different winter than someone in Michigan, so we all experience different levels of the four relationship seasons.

SPRING
The birth of the relationship. We grow together. We find out and discover values, nuances, quirks and habits of each other. We live in wonder and are eager to learn more. We delight in all our "firsts" -- first date, first kiss, first time we introduce him to our friends.

SUMMER
Otherwise known as the honeymoon period. Our partner can do no wrong. We put them on a pedestal and lavish them with compliments. We excuse the little things that would normally bother us and sweep them under the rug. We see each day through rose-colored glasses and live in complete bliss and utter harmony.

AUTUMN
Uh, oh. Here come the cracks and faults in our relationship. The earthquakes start. We put each other on trial. It's no longer cute that he leaves his banana peel on the counter instead of throwing it away. We nag, scrutinize and judge each other. The rumbling of the volcano begins.

WINTER
The volcano erupts. Everything that we've held inside during the other seasons now bursts out. We sling mud, lash out, belittle, suspect, accuse, lie and cover up. Our words slash like samurai swords and hurt the very one we love.

If we know that we will have lows as well as highs in relationships, we can see through the eyes of love and understanding instead of experiencing an icy, cold winter period.

We can know when our partners need a little distance and not take it personally. We can recognize when we are acting irrationally and see how that pushes our partners away. We can notice patterns of behavior in ourselves as well as our partner that are not serving our higher selves and bring it to our and their attention. We can love our partner completely, imperfections and all. We can promise ourselves to be the best we can possibly be, thus bringing out the best in our partner.

Patterns of abuse, whether physical or emotional, however, are serious issues that require professional help. Love should never hurt and your boundaries should never be violated. Relationships should add value to our lives and if yours is not, it's time to take a serious look at why it isn't.

Change and growth are sometimes not easy and we should remember this and be gentle on our loved ones and ourselves when we find ourselves in the different seasons of our relationships. If you are falling into the winter of your relationship and can't see the sun, step back a little and let the clouds disappear to feel the warmth of the loving spring and summer seasons again.