It’s a bittersweet moment to watch your son move from being a college student to being a college grad. I’m so happy for him and his huge accomplishment, but there’s something inside of me that wants to go back to the days when he ran to my arms for comfort or believed everything I said or simply lit up when I came into the room.
|Proud dad with sons including, Liberty graduate, Jordan|
Those sad and sentimental moments find their way into the fabric of our marriages. It is a challenging passage that every marriage with children must go through. I’m so thankful that God has allowed me to be surrounded by my sons for a bit longer. Two of them still live at home (one in college and one in high school). And “the grad” is with us for at least one more summer while he earns money for graduate school this fall and beyond.
But I can only imagine how hard and sometimes messy this would be for many who are new empty-nesters.
My husband was an only child and so eager to get out into the adult world at 18 that he joined the Air Force without discussing this with his parents. In fact, he informed them just a day before heading out to boot camp. Yikes! My heart would have been broken, and I think my mother-in-law’s was.
One of the reasons this transition is so difficult for many is that couples have built their lives around their children. When the kids leave, they have no relationship with their spouse to turn to for comfort, perspective or companionship.
After all the years of pouring into the children, their spouse is a stranger to them.
If you’re guilty of giving all of your energy and focus to your children—even if they are only toddlers at this point—please consider this warning! Your marriage should be your priority over your children. Your children will be healthier and happier if you do this. They will, in turn, know how to build relationship priorities when they marry.
Of course, all of this should be built upon your complete devotion to Christ. He is the One who brings it altogether seamlessly with beauty and unity.
If you feel overwhelmed by this task, then choose today to reconnect in small ways. My husband and I do simple things like spending five minutes each day asking questions like …
- What was a high or low in your day today?
- What are you reading about in your time with God?
- What is something you’d like to accomplish in the near future?
- What friend in your life really encourages you and why?
If you commit to this you may be able to move on to the next level of reconnection. Make time to talk for an extended period of time—an hour or more each week. Set it on your calendar or it won’t get done. Keep this time positive and add more relationship building questions like …
- What is one small thing you’d like me to start doing?
- What is one small thing you’d like me to avoid? (Stay positive with this one!)
- What are some ways I can pray for you?
- Share one or two things you appreciate about your spouse with your spouse.
- Share one or two positive feelings you’ve felt when being around your spouse.
- Make a commitment to pray a small prayer together each day either at the beginning or end of the day.
These are simple steps that can rebuild your relationship. If you commit yourselves to pursuing this with God’s help, you’ll rekindle that love that has been overshadowed by years of neglect and distraction.