When I speak to young moms about what life is like in the Empty Nest, I always tell them one thing: nurture your marriage while your kids are still at home. Make it a priority.
When kids begin leaving the nest, most couples either fall into one of two camps:
Those who are worried about the state of their marriage – “Do we have enough to hold us together now that the kids are gone?”
Those who can’t wait for a second honeymoon with their spouse.
Where do you fall?
In their book, Barbara & Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest, authors Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates discuss three common pitfalls that many marriages face in the empty nest season.
A Critical Spirit – With the kids out of the nest, an empty nest wife may fill the void with more focus on her spouse. This can lead to fault-finding. It can be related to the grief and sadness that are a natural part of the initial empty nest months, and it can happen slowly and subtly. Watch out! If you notice yourself doing this, try to focus on his good qualities and remember the reasons you fell for him in the first place. Also, express gratitude to him frequently.
Emotional Divorce – It is normal to feel some sense of isolation in the empty nest as you and your husband process this life change in different ways. But if you don’t communicate your feelings and share them with one another, it can breed a sense of isolation. Don’t let this happen! Keep talking to each other and listening to one another. An ongoing dialogue is critical as you transition. Learn each other’s love languages and choose to begin speaking them to one another.
An Affair – Vulnerability to an affair can occur if couples fail to stop the drift toward emotional divorce. This is more prevalent than you might think. The divorce rate has actually doubled for older adults over the past 20 years! For women, infidelity often begins with an emotional affair. Do not flirt with temptation. Flee from it and run toward your spouse instead.
Make the decision today to build up your marriage and be intentional about increasing your intimacy through better communication. Make plans that you can both look forward to and discuss your hopes and dreams for the empty nest years. My favorite marriage book right now is The Marriage Builder: Creating True Oneness to Transform Your Marriage by Dr. Larry Crabb. In the book, Dr. Crabb identifies three building blocks essential to marriage: the grace of God, true marriage commitment, and acceptance of your mate. He includes discussion questions for you and your spouse to share together. I highly recommend it!
You CAN have a Blessed Empty Nest. Be intentional.
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Photo by Megan Weaver.