Marriage/Relationships

Romantic couple with springtime flowers

Springtime is a time for lovers 

Like no other time of year, springtime is the time for lovers. It’s a time to plant the seeds of romance and a time to watch love flourish in the sun. Springtime always reminds me of one of the most beautiful (and helpful) scenes from Shulammite’s love story—Springtime of Romance!

It must have been thrilling for Shulammite to look out over the horizon in this opening scene to see a strong, handsome, athletic man bounding across the hills. To recognize him as the man every woman wants and then realize he’s coming towards you must have been a heart-pounding moment. He wastes no time closing the gap between them. When he finally reaches her, we find out why Solomon is in such a hurry. He wants to be in love and he came to offer the woman he loves an invitation—an invitation to join him for a springtime of romance.

And what an invitation! This guy doesn’t play fair. He starts his alluring invitation by reminding her the cold, wet days of winter have passed and now it’s time to step out into the warmth of the sun. He uses the heady sights and scents of a blossoming springtime and the come-hither voice of a dove cooing for a mate to entice her to join him for a new season of love.

How the Springtime of Romance can help your marriage

When I first unpacked the Springtime of Romance, my marriage was definitely in the bitter, cold days of winter. Gradually, Jim and I had allowed the warmth of our love to turn cold and it seemed the sun would never shine again. As I looked at Solomon’s invitation, then looked at myself very honestly, I realized how many times I’d missed Jim’s invitation to love him. So many times, in oh-so-many-ways, Jim urged me to take his hand and follow him onto the hilltops of love.

But I pushed love away. I brushed the invitation aside too many times and over time, the invitations stopped coming.

What Jim wanted was for me to drop everything, take his hand and just be his girl for a while. The problem was, he wanted it right now. Putting aside the issues in life was always easier for Jim (as it is for most men)—he could compartmentalize. I, on the other hand, wanted to stay focused on my distractions.

Didn’t he know I couldn’t just leave all the loose ends hanging? Schedules, kids, career, planning meals, planning family events, finances—there was always something screaming for attention. To be honest, my To-Do List wasn’t the only thing holding me back. Sometimes I was just plain old ticked over something Jim said or did. Wouldn’t loving him only reward his actions? At least this was the excuse I gave myself when the truth was, I just couldn’t be bothered.

I didn’t stop to realize in those moments, Jim wanted (and probably needed) the distraction of our love. He just needed to let down his sails—to exchange the howling winds of life for the safe harbor of love. Sometimes his invitation looked like climbing back into bed. Sometimes it was pulling me around the corner and into his arms for a lingering kiss.  Other times it was to join him on the golf course, on a hike, at a coffee shop, or for happy hour. He wanted a lover’s escape. But for me, accepting his invitation meant leaving all my spinning plates and sometimes taking on more just to join him (i.e. getting a babysitter, etc). Needless to say, my responses to Jim’s little spring fling invitations were not always positive.

Yet, as I read Shulammite’s response to her lover, I felt a sharp pang of regret. She threw caution to the wind, left everything behind and accepted her lover’s hand.

Not that it was easy for her.

Like any woman, Shulammite hesitated in the moment. I think every woman can relate to her initial reluctance. We all know it takes a second to stop the gears, then switch to a new track. This sort of raw, real-ness is what I appreciate most about the Song.

It took a little coaxing on Solomon’s part, but Shulammite did it. She dropped her worries and concerns and accepted love’s invitation.

Not only did she enjoy herself (and him) but their love bloomed on a whole new level. As you read further into the Song, there is no doubt her decision to accept this invitation ushered in a deeper intimacy between them.

Isn’t this what I craved all along? Isn’t deeper intimacy what every woman craves?

Could it be I was actually stopping the very thing I wanted most in my marriage? I’m not saying Jim wasn’t responsible for the condition of our love too. But my own apathy towards our love was on me.

Love’s invitation came knocking at my door but because it didn’t come in my timing or on my terms, I didn’t recognize it as an invitation at all. To me, Jim’s invitations seemed more like a bother. Now, on the other side of love, I saw things more clearly. Putting love on hold and brushing my husband aside waiting for a better time to love no longer held any mystery for me. I knew exactly where apathy leads—divorce court or at best a passionless marriage nobody wants. Yes, loving Jim was work, but not loving him created far more work and even more problems. I knew my apathy was a big part of why our love faded.

But this bad news was also GREAT news for me! I knew when you accept responsibility, you also have the power to affect change.

I studied the Springtime of Romance passage in the Song again. What would happen if I just left all the balls in the air and followed Jim like Shulammite followed her man? At the time, nothing in me desired it, that’s for sure. I mean nada. In fact, even the idea of moving towards Jim felt dishonest…like I’d have to pretend.

But you know what? I did it anyway. I knew the “pretending feelings” were only coming from a negative pattern of choosing differently over the years. All new patterns seem unnatural until they become second nature. So, I made a step towards repairing love.

Now remember, we were in a bad place, so I had to start small at first. A sweet smile, a brief touch, an encouragement, expressing gratitude for Jim and my life with him, and above all, praying for strength not to react negatively towards Jim when he rejected me. I knew Jim had patterns to overcome too.

What I did in short, were exactly the things Shulammite demonstrates in beginning of the Song (see ACTS One and Two of Dare to Love a Man). It’s the kind of womanhood that made her so captivating and awakened Solomon’s affections in the first place. As it turns out, it’s the kind of womanhood Jim found captivating too.

A new joy surrounded me and Jim found that joy irresistible. Then it happened. Jim’s love reawakened and his invitations returned.

Imagine that. Applying the Word of God in your life and finding it actually works! 

Like always, Jim’s invitation for love came at the most inconvenient time—and still do. But this time, like Shulammite, I made the choice to ignore the screaming voices in my head and instead, I stepped out into the sun.

It was the first sign of new life for my marriage. With consistency (and I cannot stress consistency enough), our love began to bloom and flourish again.

Every marriage slips in and out of different seasons. We see it happen in the Song and we see it happen in our own lives. But like any garden, the garden of your love requires a season to bloom. You see, blossoms represent the future of the garden. They contain hope for survival. Without the blossoms, there is no fruit, without fruit there is no seed, without seed the garden eventually dies.

With all my heart, when love’s invitation comes your way, I urge you to leave all your plates spinning. Drop your anger, discontent, and past hurts. Step out of the cold and into the warmth of springtime where love blooms and the future of love has a chance.

Stay lovely, my friend,

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