If you've decided to step back into the world of relationships, dating can feel pretty awkward at first, if not downright terrifying. After being married, having kids and getting divorced, we can't say we always enjoyed the experience, but we sure did learn a lot. In fact, it was a time of transformation for us. We ended up learning more about ourselves than we ever could have on our own. We're talking about abilities such as learning to speak wisely, to listen lovingly, to stop trying to control our partner or make them turn into carbon copies of ourselves, and to get over having unrealistic expectations of them.

Here is one very practical tip we learned and practiced for having a successful relationship. We call this one the "Date the Four Seasons" tip. Once you are seeing each other exclusively, date for one full year. By dating through the four seasons, you get to experience before marriage many of the events and situations that you will have to live through each year together.

For example, Lewis is Jewish and Diane is Catholic. Diane is much more socially active than Lewis during her holiday from Thanksgiving until New Year's Day. For Diane, it's party time with all the annual gatherings to attend. While these are enjoyable for Lewis, he found there were too many events, too close together. So in choosing Lewis, Diane accepted that he might not attend every single event with her. Lewis, in choosing Diane, accepted that she would attend these events with or without him.

In the summer, Diane discovered that Lewis's job required him to work twelve-hour days during the months of May and June. Lewis learned that Diane visits her mom every summer for two to three weeks in July. Lewis vacations with his children in July and camps with his men's group in August. Lewis realized that Diane would not choose to sit through the long High Holiday service conducted in Hebrew in September. In October, Lewis learned that he'd be spending that month eating and drinking from pumpkin plates and mugs, and in almost every room he would find witches, spiders and skeletons.

We have a friend whose ex-husband told her she became so irritable due to the heat in the summertime that he actually couldn't be around her in those months. We wonder if they both might have avoided a big mistake if he had dated her during the summer?!

Are you getting the picture of the full range of experience that dating throughout the four seasons provides? Enjoy your relationship! Dating has its ups and downs, but, as with any adventure, the rewards can be fantastic.

Author's Bio: 

Diane and Lewis Denbaum are relationship educators and the authors of "Madly In Love Forever," a book packed with heartfelt stories, easy-to-use help and no-nonsense advice to help you create the romantic relationship you desire. Two free chapters of their book are available at http://www.madlyinloveforever.com/free-chapters/