Overcoming the Challenges of an Empty Nest
Q: I have always thought we had a good marriage, but now that our children are gone I feel like my husband and I don’t have anything in common anymore. All we do is bicker at each other. What can we do to become friends again?
Dennis: The most important thing you can do is to begin to develop some common interests, some things you enjoy doing together. Find something to share and make your relationship a priority. Rediscovering or even rebuilding the common basis that you lost during the years when he spent all day at work and you spent all day with the kids will take time and hard work.
Barbara: One of the two has to decide: “I am going to get involved in hunting, fishing, gardening, art, a ministry.” One of you needs to take the steps to participate in an activity that the other is already involved in or interested in so that the relationship can have a chance to grow.
Dennis: Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” In a culture where we claim our own rights and seek to have our needs met, this call to self-sacrifice is a counter-cultural challenge that must be taken seriously. The husband and wife need to reach a compromise, sacrificing their own rights and wishes for the ultimate good of the relationship.
Not only should a couple cultivate common interests, but they should also discover a common cause, some ministry that both passionately support. Couples across the nation have found their common cause in mentoring younger couples. They are dedicating part of their lives to teaching others how to make marriages work and how to build godly homes by becoming HomeBuilders.
Without a common foundation, the years of old age become the death years instead of the glowing years they should be. Couples can move toward death in a relationship that is already dead and decaying; they have lost the intrigue, the interest, and the passion in knowing each other. That is not what Christian marriage was designed to be. Instead of looking backward at what was missed along the way, look forward to what can be accomplished with the years that lie ahead. These can be the best years of your life!
Barbara Rainey contributed to this article