The second half of your marriage (when the kids leave home, and/or when you are helping with your own parent’s lifestyle decisions) can be a time of incredible fulfillment, no matter what challenges you previously faced.
It can be a time of learning about each other and about God’s long-term plans for your marriage. And a time of building together – sharing dreams, making commitments, and working towards a more satisfying union.
Having just celebrated my 38th anniversary on December 8, I sought out resources to help answer this question:
How can we make the second half of our marriage even better than the first?
David and Claudia Arp’s book “The Second Half of Marriage” has provided a lot of helpful guidance in starting out on the journey of the second half of marriage. Yesterday, I posted four strategies they outline in their book. Here, in their own words, are the final four:
- Build a deeper friendship and enjoy your spouse. Now is a great time to deepen your friendship with each other and stretch your boundaries to prevent boredom. Think of ways to put more fun in your marriage.
- Renew romance and restore a pleasurable sexual relationship. Many people assume that as people grow older they lose interest in sex, but our survey results suggest otherwise. The quality of your love life is not so much a matter of performance as it is an integral part of the relationship. Take care of your health and renew romance even while acknowledging the inevitable changes that come with aging.
- Adjust to changing roles with aging parents and adult children. Release your children, then reconnect with them on an adult level. At the same time, your relationship with your parents may need a little altering, too. The effort you expend in forging better relationships with loved ones on both ends of the generational seesaw is well worth it.
- Evaluate where you are on your spiritual pilgrimage. Research indicates that most people, as they age and consider death, become more religious because they think more about what it all means. Why not consider this time of transition as an opportunity to talk more openly and regularly about your relationship with Christ: what it means, why it matters, and what it means for your marriage? Take time to serve others, too, and pass along some of the wisdom you have gained.
In addition to the wealth of material in the book, the Arps provide additional resources through their Marriage Alive website.
And now for the whole picture of our wedding party – December 8, 1979, at First Baptist Church, Goodlettsville, TN.
It’s day 13,882 for Anita and me – and our journey together continues!
Happy Anniversary, Anita!
How can you make the second half of your marriage better than the first?
That question is always in the back of our mind as Anita and I celebrate our 38th anniversary today, December 8, 2017. Loosely defined, the second half of marriage comes when your kids have left home; it may also be marked by decisions a couple is making about their parent’s health and lifestyle.
We’ve got both.
I found a great resource to help begin charting this journey: David and Claudia Arp’s wonderful book The Second Half of Marriage. In their own words, here are the first four (of eight) strategies that will help every long-term couple make the most of their marriage:
- Let go of past marital disappointments, forgive each other and commit to making the rest of your marriage the best. Are you willing to let go of unmet expectations and unrealistic dreams? Or your mate’s little irritating habits that don’t seem to be disappearing? Giving up lost dreams and overlooking each other’s imperfections are positive steps toward forgiving past hurts and moving on in your marriage.
- Create a marriage that is partner-focused rather than child-focused. The tendency, once the kids leave, is to focus on new activities rather than on each other, but these activities can keep you from crafting a more intimate relationship. Try to focus more time and attention on your spouse.
- Maintain effective communication that allows you to express your deepest feelings, joys and concerns. Sometimes what worked when the kids were home doesn’t work as well now that the kids are gone. After all, you always had the children to talk about. Now that it’s just the two of you, you might need to upgrade your communication skills.
- Use anger and conflict creatively to build your relationship. With the kids gone, many couples find that issues they assumed were resolved resurface. Certain negative patterns of interaction that developed over the years can be deadly for an empty-nest marriage. Learn how to deal with issues and process anger in ways that build your relationship.
Tomorrow, the other four strategies from “The Second Half of Marriage”, as well as some other resources and ideas.
But in the meantime, I have the most beautiful bride ever:
She still is!
13,881 days and counting!!
Milestones along the journey usually indicated distance traveled. In a figurative sense, milestones indicate an event along life’s journey. As I noted here, this week marks a big milestone in our house: our youngest son graduates from high school.
Following his graduation this weekend, he will return to the boy’s camp where he is a summer counselor (he’s already been there a week, training). When camp is over in August, it will be just a few short weeks and then he will be in college.
And the nest will be empty.
For the first time in over 30 years, it will just be Anita and I. No kids. No kids’ friends. No soccer games. No church groups. No school assignments. No…you name it.
That’s kind of daunting.
We actually have had a couple of summers to practice the empty nest thing, as our son has been a counselor each of the previous two summers. So, for a period of 10 weeks or so, we’ve been empty nesters. But not really; we knew at the end of summer he would be back again. This time, however, it will be real.
Enter the second half of marriage.
A few years ago, I wrote about it here and here. One Valentine’s Days, I talked about it here.
All of a sudden, the here is now.
- Your teenagers have gone to college
- Your parents are aging
- You’ve been invited to your twenty-fifth (or thirty-fifth) high school reunion
- Your exercise more (?) but burn fewer calories
- You have received an invitation to join AARP
- By the time you get your spouse’s attention, you’ve forgotten what you were going to say
If you identify with these symptoms, you are in or are approaching the second half of marriage.
Why not make the rest of your marriage the best?