The empty nest years can sneak up on a marriage.
I shared my thoughts about this in a post a few weeks ago:
“Well-meaning moms and dads spend so many years completely devoted to the task of raising their children that they often forget to be husband and wife. It’s a situation that may be manageable while the kids are still at home and there’s enough work to ‘float’ the relationship along – but it can become unbearable after the kids move out. That’s what puts empty-nest marriages at higher risk for dissatisfaction – and even divorce.”
In short, couples end up as roommates. It’s okay to have seasons where you focus on your kids more than your marriage – say when they’re sick or getting into trouble – but you don’t want to live in that space for too long. You have to regroup and keep coming back to your marriage again and again.
Other couples struggle because, well, frankly they expected this season of life to be less difficult than when they were raising their children. The truth is, every season has its own particular set of challenges and that includes the empty nest years. Toddlers can be physically exhausting on a parent; young adult children can be emotionally exhausting.
The young adult years are when your phone might start ringing with those calls: “I’m pregnant.” “I’m getting a divorce.” “I’m in debt.” “I have a gambling problem.” “I have a drug and alcohol problem.”
What’s your role then?
Today’s radio program is devoted to subjects like these. We’ll offer advice for married couples who want to make sure they’re doing the things they need to do, so they’ll still have an intact marriage when the kids are gone and their house is quiet.
You can’t not invest in your relationship. You were a couple before you had children, and with the right preparation you can spend the rest of your lives in a thriving marriage after they’re gone.