Energizing Your Marriage in the Second Half
For some couples, the "empty nest" brings feelings of loneliness and loss. For others, this season represents the opportunity to experience life as a twosome again. As you adjust to the empty-nest years, some wise strategies can help you make the most of your marriage and your life together.
- Let go of past marital disappointments, forgive each other and commit to making the rest of your marriage the best. Are you willing to let go of unmet expectations and unrealistic dreams? Or your mate's little irritating habits that don't seem to be disappearing? Giving up lost dreams and overlooking each other's imperfections are positive steps toward forgiving past hurts and moving on in your marriage.
- Create a marriage that is partner-focused rather than child-focused. The tendency, once the kids leave, is to focus on new activities rather than on each other, but these activities can keep you from crafting a more intimate relationship. Try to focus more time and attention on your spouse.
- Maintain effective communication that allows you to express your deepest feelings, joys and concerns. Sometimes what worked when the kids were home doesn't work as well now that the kids are gone. After all, you always had the children to talk about. Now that it's just the two of you, you might need to upgrade your communication skills.
- Use anger and conflict creatively to build your relationship. With the kids gone, many couples find that issues they assumed were resolved resurface. Certain negative patterns of interaction that developed over the years can be deadly for an empty-nest marriage. Learn how to deal with issues and process anger in ways that build your relationship.
- Build a deeper friendship and enjoy your spouse. Now is a great time to deepen your friendship with each other and stretch your boundaries to prevent boredom. Think of ways to put more fun in your marriage.
- Renew romance and restore a pleasurable sexual relationship. Many people assume that as people grow older they lose interest in sex, but our survey results suggest otherwise. The quality of your love life is not so much a matter of performance as it is an integral part of the relationship. Take care of your health and renew romance even while acknowledging the inevitable changes that come with aging.
- Adjust to changing roles with aging parents and adult children. Release your children, then reconnect with them on an adult level. At the same time, your relationship with your parents may need a little altering, too. The effort you expend in forging better relationships with loved ones on both ends of the generational seesaw is well worth it.
- Evaluate where you are on your spiritual pilgrimage. Research indicates that most people, as they age and consider death, become more religious because they think more about what it all means. Why not consider this time of transition as an opportunity to talk more openly and regularly about your relationship with Christ: what it means, why it matters, and what it means for your marriage? Take time to serve others, too, and pass along some of the wisdom you have gained.
Marital success comes through daily struggles, making unselfish choices and being willing to forgive each other. Little steps, if taken in good faith, can turn the tide. So no matter what challenges you previously faced, the second half can be a time of incredible fulfillment, a time of learning about God's long-term plans for your marriage. It's a great time to create a vision for the rest of your life together and to make that vision a reality. Trust us, the second half can be the best!
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