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  • Feb 04 / 2016
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Will your marriage thrive once your nest is empty?

The day our children finally leave home for a life on their own, it’s what we worked toward and dream of as a couple for many years. Or is it? In recent years statistics have shown an alarming increase in divorces of couples over the age of 50. According to experts, the trigger that is most often responsible for failed marriages at this point in life, is the children leaving home for a life on their own, leaving their parents with only each other for company.

At this point, many couples discover that they have drifted apart and have little in common with each other except their children, who are now gone, they were both focusing all their attention on raising. As a result, they often failed to deal with issues that were effecting the marriage, frequently sweeping them under the rug in an effort to “keep the peace.” Many simply worked to keep the family together for the sake of the children. Solely focusing on raising their children and ignoring the health of their marriage, many couples soon discover they have nothing in common, and that their children were the glue that was holding them together. They find that they have come to see each other as mom and dad, and not as husband and wife, and romantic partners.

What are the signs to look for?

The biggest sign that your marriage is headed for trouble once the children leave, is the withdrawal of one or both spouses from the relationship. Instead of doing things together and having friends in common, you develop separate interests, hobbies, and friends, and only come together for the benefit of the children. Examine your daily routine and look for activities you do with your spouse that do not include your children, or benefit them. The less one on one time you and your spouse spend together, the more your marriage may be in danger when your children eventually leave home.

If the signs are there, what now?

One word, RECONNECT…. You drifted apart because you shifted the focus on your marriage to your children. It time to shift it back to your marriage. Doing this will require you to become selfish about getting quality time with your spouse. I say selfish, because children will take all your time and attention if you let them. Stopping this will mean setting aside one on one time with your spouse on a daily basis and not allowing your children to take it from you. Though they may not like it initially, your marriage will benefit and you will be setting a good example by putting your marriage first. Below are several steps to take to strengthen your marriage so that when your children leave home, you’ll be looking for forward to all the extra time you have available to spend with your spouse.

Be intentional about your marriage. Good marriages don’t happen accidently, they take work and a daily investment of your time. See my post on An Intentional Marriage.

Date your spouse. Your marriage with your spouse was born from a dating relationship with them. It was through that relationship that you became close and learned to love them, and learned all about them. To maintain your relationship after marriage, and grow even closer, continuing to date your spouse and daily one on one quality time is a must.

God, Spouse, Children, Everything else. Like it or not, and many women won’t like it, your spouse, and your marriage, come before your children.

Be the spouse you would want to be married to. If many of us were totally honest with ourselves, we’d have to admit that we would not want to be our spouse, due to the way we act or the bad habits we have. Examine yourself, and work on changing things about yourself that you know are contributing to, or causing issues in your marriage. See my post Being the spouse you’d want to be married to.

Communicate about everything. Bad communication is almost always found at the center of most broken marriages. Make it a point to talk to your spouse daily about your feelings, goals, desires, fears, etc. The more you talk and feel comfortable talking to each other, the closer you will grow to each other.

For more marriage builders, read Five tips to a better marriage.

 


 

  • Jan 28 / 2016
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Are the metaphors you use limiting your love

January 28, 2016

I read something the other day that I though was very profound. The Author was discussing metaphors, and how the ones we associate with a particular word or situation, can drastically effect the way we see it.

For instance, the word cancer. Typical metaphors people associate with the word cancer, are battle, fight, or rebuilding. The author pointed out that many, feeling as if they have been thrust into a deadly war they cannot win, simply give up. Despite statistics that show that the number of people that beat cancer, greatly outnumber those that die from it. Simply put, the way people think about it, greatly affects their ability to deal with it.

Another area where metaphors can cause us trouble, is in our relationships. When thinking about love, we typically assign metaphors such as valuable, invest, priceless, and even bankrupt. He pointed out that by assigning metaphors that are economic in nature, we tend to be stingy and trade unconditional love for conditional love. Putting conditions on our love for others and our spouse, we unconsciously, or consciously withhold our love as we would our money if we felt something wasn’t worth investing in or purchasing.

Usually, the reason we withhold our love is to get our friends, or our spouse to change to be more to our liking. As if our disapproval and judgmental, snobbish, and proud attitude would actually cause them to want to be more like us. In reality, by withholding our love, they instead become defensive, and rather than being drawn to us and wanting to change, they are repulsed and distance themselves from us.

Instead, in our mind, we must replace economic metaphors for love with something different, something that frames it as a free gift with no limitations or restrictions. Instead of holding back and being stingy with our love, to force someone to change. We lavish them with love, pouring it out with no limitations, and not holding love back when others don’t measure up to our standards or have beliefs that don’t align with ours.

When we learn to do this, our love will work like a magnet, pulling people from the muck and mire in their lives, and guiding them toward healing. Incidentally, this is how God loves us, His love is unconditional and He never withholds it to punish us or teach us a lesson.

 

 

 

 

How are you loving your spouse? Are you loving them unconditionally even though there are things about them that you wish they would change? Or are you placing conditions on your love and withholding it when they don’t live up to your expectations. If your love has become conditional, how will shifting to an unconditional love effect your relationship?

 

Topic Source: Blue Like Jazz by Donnald Miller

  • Jan 12 / 2016
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Give and take in marriage

Who hasn’t heard the phrase “marriage is give and take,” or “marriage is 50/50.” I’ve heard these phrases for as long as I can remember, but until recently I’d never given a second thought about the underlying message they carry, and the problems that can arise from living by them.

Lately I’ve been getting involved in mentoring people through tough spots in their marriages and relationships. Through my conversations with them I’ve heard over and over “I’m doing my part in the marriage, my spouse isn’t doing anything at all.”  Many of them expressed that they wanted to quit what they were doing until their spouses started doing their share. And why not? It’s only fair that both spouses work equally hard at the marriage.

I know this isn’t going to sit well with many, but, “give and take in marriage” and “marriage is 50/50” are both totally wrong. Marriage done right is all give and no take. And for a marriage to succeed, both spouses must give 100% at all times without expecting anything in return. If we all did this, or at least made a serious attempt to do it on a daily basis. I believe divorce would be nearly non-existent.

I know you’re thinking that I’ve lost my mind, and asking “Why should I work like a dog to serve my spouse and expect nothing in return?” Well the simple answer is that it’s your job as their spouse, and if you do it for them, they will more than likely be motivated to do it for you as well. Why?  Because most people will feel a sense of guilt when they receive something they don’t deserve or didn’t work for, and will usually return the kindness being shown to them.

Still not convinced. Look at it this way. Say you only contributed 50% to the marriage. Who decides who will do what? And who decides what the load you carry is worth? You say “I’m doing this, this, and this, and that’s more half”. What do you think your spouse would say about that? Fact is, we almost always give ourselves more credit than we deserve and think our contributions are worth more than they really are. So while you believe that you are carrying more than your fair share of the relationship and that your spouse is slacking, your spouse is feeling the exact same way. Eventually these feeling of will lead to anger and resentment that will negatively affect the marriage, possibly leading to divorce.

In the end, it’s better for your marriage if both you and your spouse pour everything you have into making the marriage and your relationship the best it can be. Keeping score is for board games. A successful marriage requires both spouses to be, all in, all the time.

What is the giving like in your marriage? Do you give without ceasing, or only up to a point? I urge you, for the sake of your marriage, to erase the invisible lines in your marriage, and work on developing a new attitude where giving is concerned. Don’t look at it as giving to or serving your spouse, look at it as giving to and investing in your marriage.

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