Midlife is a concentric circle of change. We work through one orb and there’s more just beyond. And, in case you haven’t noticed, change is unfamiliar, and just hard. Kids are growing up, and out. Your responsibilities slow in one area only to ramp up in another. Your marriage is probably one of the only constants in your life. But just like when it was new, an older marriage that’s been around the block requires some tending. So how, exactly, do you nurture your midlife marriage? Five areas provide a road map for giving your midlife marriage the attention it deserves: Communication, Unity, Vision, Adventure, and Passion.
If you’ve been married for a while like us, this thing, this entity called marriage, is easily ignored. You’ve both been busy raising kids and chasing careers and your marriage may have gotten shuffled to the back burner. It may be simmering still, but let’s be honest. It’s easy to stay stuck in our same daily ruts and patterns. If we’re not careful, an unattended pot on the back burner can burn up. No one wants that.
Now that you’re on the cusp of an empty nest, nurturing your midlife marriage needs to be your focus, your attention. It’s time, my friend The good news is that finally, you’ve got the time! As scary as it may be.
Time itself can be a mixed bag. As your parental responsibilities fade away, you are left with an empty nest with only you and your husband to occupy it. The absence of distractions can be scary. I get it.
On the flip side, you get an EMPTY NEST with only your husband! WOOHOO! Naked Fridays here we come!!!
But, perhaps we need a gameplan to get reacquainted again. As an almost empty-nester mom, I know that I am changing as my roles change. My wants and needs are changing. What I’m expecting from myself is changing. The same holds true for my husband.
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How long has it been since you’ve had a long, uninterrupted talk with your husband about your hopes and dreams for the next half of your life? I’m thinking it’s been a while.
You’re more accustomed to discussing the important issues in car rides and 5-second increments, or whenever you’ve got a minute alone. If you’ve had years of teens and crazy schedules, your own hopes and dreams somehow get swallowed up in everyone else’s.
Let’s try this: Reserve a night without the tv to just reconnect. (Need more ideas? Sign up for my date night ideas printable below.) Tell your man that you’ve got a date night planned for (pick a night). Pull out some candles and order a pizza. You can talk about the kids, some, especially if they are newly gone. But tonight, your kids are not on the front burner, your marriage is.
Mostly though, you need to talk about your hearts. Talk about each other and what you love about your life together. For some ideas, check out this post on writing a love letter. Love letters don’t always need to be written down.
I know all this is corny. But in the inciteful words from The Holiday, maybe you’re like me and you’re “looking for a little corny in [your] life.”
If need be, talk about each of these areas. Get your husband’s input on how you stand on your communication, your unity, your vision, your adventure, and your passion.
Finding new common interests will help to find unity in your marriage. Though your careers and time commitments may have taken you in different directions over the years, now is the time to find a joint interest or hobby. Your time resources are easing up, so if you don’t already have an interest that you do together, find one.
Can you get involved in or lead a group at your church? Do you miss working with the younger set? Maybe helping with the nursery on Sunday mornings is for you.
There are so many charitable organizations that desperately need your help. Use what you are passionate about to find one. What obstacles (and hardships) has God brought you through that you could help others going through together?
Would you like to get to know your neighbors better? How about a recurring neighborhood picnic?
My husband and I have been talking about getting a tandem bike. Now that’s a commitment. How about joining a gym together or starting a new diet or eating plan. How about a dancing class?
What is your vision for your new life after kids? Do you see yourself doing something different? Does your husband? Do you dream about how you’ll spend your time in your marriage?
This is actually a fun exercise, and there’s no wrong answer. It’s fun to dream and build on the ideas of your partner. Doesn’t it take you back to the early days of your relationship where the world is your oyster? It should!! And now we’ve got the time and maybe the resources to make it happen.
Creating a vision, (or aptly called a dream sheet in the Air Force) is NOT a selfish endeavor. We’ve been helping our kids (and maybe the husband too) do this all these years. Now it’s our turn. What are your dreams for the second half of your married years?
How can we share our gifts with the world?
Along those same lines, now’s the time to take a good look at your finances together so you’re on the same page. Where do you stand with retirement savings? Work together to realize your shared vision.
But more than money, this vision thing is about sharing your passions and gifts as a unit, as a team. You and your husband are a team. Creating a vision, a new one, for the next half of your marriage will help you to work toward it together and help you realize your purpose.
Who couldn’t use an adventure to look forward to? This could mean a trip to a foreign land or a hike up a nearby mountain. The possibilities are endless. Nurturing your midlife marriage requires the dual goal of making plans and making memories together.
Do you have a big anniversary coming up? Perhaps you can open a savings account and work toward an anniversary trip somewhere exotic. Pinterest is filled with wonderful ideas! Create a new board and pin away!
Go talk with a travel agent! He will know of deals and destinations you may have never heard of, especially if you’ve got time to wait for the best pricing to become available.
Let’s face it, your midlife years bring physical changes, to both of you. If your sex life is suffering, It may be time to discuss options with your doctor(s) at your annual physicals. Menopause may be forcing your body to slow down, as it shuts down the functioning of some things. While this can bring relief from the worry of pregnancy, it also causes decreasing hormone levels which can affect your sex drive. Ugh.
But, here’s the bottom line: When you feel better physically, (and fell better about yourself) the better your sex life will be.
And let me just tell you here that we as women judge our own appearances way more harshly than our husbands do. Stop worrying about yourself so much and put your husband first.
Don’t let your own imperfections and squishy selves hinder you from a deep connection and passion within your marriage.
Passion and connection go hand in hand. Women need communication and connection for sex. Men need sex for connection and communication. The marriage bed is the dance of both of these. God’s gift of marital sex joins souls as well as bodies and is deeper than what our bodies may look like at the time.
The soul connection of marriage is deep and flowing and is worthy of tending. It takes effort and intention to nurture your midlife marriage. Created to mirror God’s love for us all, marriage was and is His idea to live and practice love and grace daily.
By using the roadmap of Communication, Unity, Vision, Adventure, and Passion, you have all the tools to reprioritize your marriage, nurturing it back into a passion-filled union, full of fun and adventure.
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