Loving Your Spouse Well When Your Nest is Almost Empty
This week for the Building a Lasting Love Story #MarriageSeries, I get to bring you my friend, a passionate follower of Jesus and a gifted encourager, Melanie Redd. As well as teaching and speaking, Melanie writes at Ministry of Hope. She’s been married to Randy for 26 years and their nest is almost empty! Today, she is sharing encouragement for what loving well looks like during this unique time of life.
However, even if you aren’t in this season of marriage, these tips will only serve to strengthen your marriage in whatever season you do find yourself. If you have been following along, you will have noted some common threads for loving well during all seasons. Each is unique in daily needs, but the foundational truths behind a lasting love story stay the same. I pray you are blessed and encouraged by today’s post.
Melanies’s post is the fifth post in the Building a Lasting Love Story #MarriageSeries! These images will get you caught up with the first three posts!
It’s our wedding anniversary today.
We are celebrating 26 years together in marriage.
We’ve been blessed with two college-age children–a boy and a girl–who both live with us at home while they work and commute to class. Our front door may as well be a revolving door as much as it opens and closes during a typical week.
Additionally, the four of us occupy a small apartment on the second floor of the seminary housing complex. To say we live in very close quarters would be an understatement.
Also, our bills are considerable during this season of life. From tuition and books to cell phones, to car insurance, to health insurance to grocery bills, we are spending the dollars like never before in our marriage.
The hours our kids keep are sometimes crazy. One is up early, the other is up late. It’s noisy, lively, and chaotic most days. And, much of the time, it is a lot of fun.
But, how do we love each other well during such a crazy season in life – this almost empty nest?
What do I do as a wife to make sure our marriage doesn’t get put on the back burner or neglected or ignored?
Can I suggest just four things that I do to try to love my spouse well?
First, put on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 13:14 says we are to, “Dress yourselves in Christ and be up and about!”
Just as I put on my workout clothes and tennis shoes before I go to the gym, I also take the time to “dress myself in Christ” before I head out the door.
How do dress yourself in Christ?
- You spend time alone with Him.
- You pray and talk to Him about the day.
- You read from the Bible and take some truths out to help you throughout the day.
- You just spend a moment being still before the Creator of this universe.
- You surrender your heart and your life to Him.
- You ask Him to fill you up – to dress you – for the day ahead.
Because I spend time with the Savior each day, I am “dressed” in Him for the day.
Filling up with His love makes all of my relationships better – especially my relationship with my husband and kids.
Second, put on flexibility and patience.
Colossians 3:12-13 tells us to, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Daily, especially during this season, I have to put on a spirit of kindness, patience, compassion, and humility. I choose to dress myself in a gracious spirit rather than a demanding or impatient spirit.
Flexibility is crucial at this stage of parenting and marriage.
Dinner plans change, dates change, cars are exchanged, keys get misplaced, accidents happen, and life demands flexibility.
Some of our favorite dates have happened because we’ve remained flexible.
“Oh, the kids aren’t coming home for dinner? Let’s go out!”
“Oh, the kids are both working late? Smooching time. Woohoo!”
“What do you mean the kids can’t go with us on this trip? I guess we will have a romantic getaway!”
Because I try to put on a spirit of patience and flexibility each day, I find that life is much more of an adventure than it is a burden. There is much more laughter and fun when I stay loose.
Third, press on.
Philippians 3:14 encourages us to press on!
“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
To press on is to keep on keeping on.
As a mom and as a wife, I have to just keep walking some days. This stage of married life is filled with some very high highs and some very low lows. I’m not sure there is a more pressure-filled season for most couples.[bctt tweet=”This stage of married life is filled with some very high highs and some very low lows. #marriageseries #adultchildren #hope @MelanieRedd” username=”lori_schumaker”]
Many couples call it quits at this season of married life.
- Baby goes off to college, let’s get a divorce.
- Kids get married, let’s call it quits.
- Mom goes back to work full time, the marriage changes and ends.
- Expenses and pressures mount, couples begin to drift apart.
My husband and I have committed to pressing on. No matter how much the pressure builds, we are going to stay together and push ahead.
We press on because it’s just a season.
Soon, we will graduate these children and send them out into the world on their own. The bills will go down, the noise level will ease, the laundry will lessen, and hubby and I will settle into the empty nest season.
For today, while the quiver is still full, crazy, and loud – we will press on.
Fourth, play together now.
As couples, no matter how many years we’ve been married, we need to have some fun together.
I can’t tell you how many couples get to our stage only to realize they have nothing in common. They don’t even remember why they got married in the first place. Work, kids, and life have kept them so busy that they forgot to work on their marriage relationship.
So, work on the marriage now.
Here are a few things couples can do to make marriage sweeter now:
Go on dates – just the two of you.
These can be long walks, dinner dates, antique shopping, movie dates, or some other activity that the two of you can do as a couple.
The key is that both of you have to enjoy the activity and want to do it together.
I have one friend who is taking tennis lessons so that she and her husband can play tennis together. Playing tennis connects them and gives them some great common ground.
Another friend of mine took up ballroom dancing as her kids got older. She and her husband took lessons together. They had a blast, and it gave them something to do as a couple.
My husband and I love to take long walks in the woods, at the park, and on hiking trails. It’s great exercise and we enjoy exploring new places. We are also saving for some bikes so we can start riding together.
Talk to each other.
Try to find some interesting topics of conversation that are enjoyable for both of you.
Don’t just talk about money, the kids, the house, the in-laws, work, and problems. Actually, try to discover some fun things to talk about.
For example, you might both enjoy college football or gardening or travel.
Try to engage your spouse in talking about something that is interesting, fun, light and enjoyable. Then, you can move into those more serious issues as needed.
Pray together as a couple.
This may not be something you’ve ever thought about doing, but I want to recommend it. Ask your spouse if the two of you can begin praying together each day.
My husband will grab my hand (as our heads hit the pillow) and pray a simple prayer for us and for our family as we are about to go to sleep. I love that he does this.
If your spouse is not open to praying aloud with you, you can still silently pray for your husband as you are drifting off to sleep each night. I can’t think of a better way to end your day.
There is no perfect marriage and no perfect couple. None of us have it all figured out.[bctt tweet=”There is no perfect marriage and no perfect couple. None of us have it all figured out. #marriageseries #hope #almostemptynest @melanieredd ” username=”lori_schumaker”]
However, there are some things we can do to make things sweeter and to demonstrate to our spouses that we value them and love them.
I pray that God will bless you and your marriage.
Melanie’s passion is to offer HOPE! She wrote curriculum for Lifeway for over 10 years before launching her own writing and speaking ministry.
Melanie is the author of three books and hosts an inspirational blog at www.melanieredd.com. Married to Randy for over 25 years; the couple enjoys travel, golf, eating out, and hanging out with their two college-aged kids. (Melanie is pictured with her husband Randy.)
If you think your marriage could benefit from a little extra hope and encouragement, consider joining the Searching for Moments Community with access to the Library of Hope. It is filled with resources to encourage your walk with Christ and keep your hope alive!
Next week I’ll be back with you here for the final post in the Building a Lasting Love Story #MarriageSeries! I get the privilege of sharing with you how my parents have loved well for 63 years! I’ve observed much throughout my life, but I’ve spent some time interviewing them (aka: bugging them to death) to bring you their sweet story of loving well!
I regularly link up with these encouraging sites.
It’s a joy to partner in ministry today with you, Lori!
Thank you for allowing me to share my story and my anniversary with your readers.
You are precious and a blessing to my life!
Oh, Melanie! It is truly such a joy to get to partner with you! I feel the same way about you, sweet friend!
I love your tips to be flexible, pray together, press on and date! Happy anniversary!
Thank you, Valerie!
Some sweet older friends have passed these suggestions along to us over the years. I think they are so good!
And, thank you for the well wishes on our anniversary!
Isn’t that being flexible one huge, Val? I know that when either one of us are rigid or inflexible, that is when our biggest disagreements occur! Thanks for visiting! ♥
Happy Anniversary, Melanie. Love this piece, especially #3…Press On! Amen, Sister…
Thank you, Sarah! Press on, Sister!
Do you know that song Press On by Building 429? One of my favorites! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pv5wVS7yzk
Melanie- great tips! I love to glean wisdom from other’s who have gone through it before!
Thank you, Julie!
I gleaned this wisdom from some of my mentors who are walking the road ahead of me!
Appreciate they anniversary wishes!
I do, too! I think it is one of the reasons I have always been drawn to the stories of others. There is so much wisdom to be gained from those who have walked waters we have yet to walk!
Blessings and smiles,
I sure appreciated these tips from Melanie. She’s one small step ahead of where I am right now, and I love learning from someone I respect and admire. Finding fun stuff to talk about, beyond the day to day stuff…that’s something I need to work on.
Thank you, Dawn!
You bless me!
And, I can’t wait to hear what you and your man find to talk about that’s fun. Some women have to get very creative!!
Dawn, I hear you! We often only talk about the day to day stuff, too! We’ve been working on it, but there’s just so much day to day to cover that by the time we get it all discussed, my husband has ran out of his daily allotment of words! lol! 🙂
My husband and I are in this season of life that you are writing about. It is a mixture of rain and sunshine, a few thunderstorms and several rainbows. We have 3 daughters and our oldest just got married last weekend. It was a wonderful celebration with family and friends!
We are being very intentional about our relationship. We realized a few years ago it would be so easy to just fill up our lives with our own things to do and easily lose one another. We didn’t want to do that.
Right now our focus is on our relationship. What new things do we want to try together? We make time for “we”ness and look forward to what God brings our way.
It sounds like we are in that same season. It’s a crazy adventure, isn’t it!
You are so wise to focus on your relationship and be intentional about it.
So many of our friends have “lost” each other during this time and never really been able to connect again.
It does take some energy, some creativity, and some dedication, doesn’t it?
I wish you and your man much joy and many more years together!
I love this, Laura! “We”-ness 🙂 So much about marriage is the intentional choosing by both partners to do the next right thing to keep the marriage strong. A happy, long-lasting marriage will not just fall into place. It takes intentional work!
Blessings and smiles,
Thank you so much for sharing Melanie with us, Lori. I just love sitting at her feet and learning from her. And what great tips these are! I feel that they apply to so many – including me who’s been married 13 years with kids in elementary school. If I apply these now I have great hopes of making it to 26 🙂 . Congrats, Melanie!
You are going to make it, Marva!
One step and one drama at a time!!
Sure do think you are amazing (as is Lori!)
You girls bless me, and I can’t wait to meet you one day!
I agree 100%, Marva! I’ve found, through this series, that there is a thread of foundational efforts and beliefs necessary for a lasting love story! There are unique challenges to each season, yet that thread remains! Thanks for stopping by today!
Melanie, Thank you for sharing such an edifying and encouraging post.
My husband and I have been in a wonderfully chaotic three year season which is quickly drawing to a close. My daughter, son-in-law and now 18 month old have been living with us. Basically two families co-existing in a 1000 square foot home. The Lord has blessed us and we all still really like each other. lol.
For both my husband and I, when they move into their first purchased home at the end of the month, it will be very quiet and very bittersweet. But I want to make sure I invest in our marriage in this new season whereas the last three years, we have been pulled in so many directions.
Your suggestions are all wonderful! My husband and I walk at our park every night and in the winter we “walk the mall”. Great conversations are always had. Looking forward to more flexibility in the months and years ahead.
It sounds like you and I have many things in common right now! Only, I’ve got a few more square feet and no grandbabies!
It is a bittersweet season, isn’t it! My emotions can run the gamut – all in one week!
Thank you for your kind and encouraging words today! And, I love that you and your man enjoy long walks as well.
Flexibility is key, isn’t it!
Praying that God will bless you and your family and give you much joy and grace as you navigate these days~
Melanie, my head was nodding and I was saying, “Me, too!” for this entire post! Our aging bodies and minds, the constant adjustments of kids coming and going and our desire to meet EVERYONE’S needs do wear on us in this phase of life. Your words are helpful and cautionary that we not forget our most important relationships during these years.
Press on. With changes happening, we need to determine to press on in our marriages. What a great reminder. Thanks Lori for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.
Melanie & Lori, what a great, inspiring post. It’s filled with so much practical wisdom. My husband and I have been married almost 34 years and have been through all the seasons you’ve covered in your series, Lori. Our home truly is an empty nest, but we’ve never been busier with extended family, ministry, writing, etc. We find we have to work at having time for each other just as much as ever! Your tips were just as practical and useful for us as for those with kids still at home. I’ll be pinning and sharing for sure!
Melanie, what great points! Continuing to date each other is huge — something we did every Thursday and something I’ll be forever grateful for. Continued blessings friend!