Have you ever considered what it’s going to be like when all of the kids have finally left home and it’s back to how you started? Back to just the two of you with an empty house, a fuller wallet, and unexpectedly large gaps in your calendar?
With six of our kids grown and gone and #7 headed out this summer, the reality has really begun to hit. That reality raises some interesting (and at times frightening) questions.
What will we do with all of our free time?
What will we talk about without the kids’ daily drama to occupy our conversations?
How will we function with no baseball games, and swim, track, and cross-country meets to fill our days?
Is life about to get boring?
Regardless of your stage of marriage, or the age of your kids, the idea of going back to “Just the two of us!” doesn’t need to be frightening. In fact, it ought to be a much anticipated, longed-for, and exciting thought. After all, your family started because the two of you found each other! You got married because you’d discovered your forever friendship and wanted to spend the rest of your lives together! You really do like each other… Remember?
Sometimes, those precious children who reside in our homes can cause us to forget the importance of our most important relationship. By their very nature, our children will push and prod themselves into the center of our lives, but we just can’t let that happen!
Our marriages are the relationship that God has proclaimed as primary in our earthly lives, and as such, our marriages deserve some TLC. (Tender Loving Care!)
Which leads me to a few more questions…
What have you done lately to build up your primary relationship? Have you consciously purposed to bless your spouse and ensure that they know just how special they are to you? Have you gone out of your way to meet their needs, both spoken and unspoken?
I’ll be totally honest, sometimes I’m just plain stingy when it comes to showing love in a way that’s meaningful to Steve. Oh sure, I serve him, and compliment him, and spend time with him, and buy him gifts… but those things just aren’t what makes my husband feel loved.
Steve feels loved when I hug him, and hold his hand, and kiss him when he comes home from work, and rub his head while we watch television, and… You get the picture. He’s all about physical affection and the more the better!
Me, I’m not a real “toucher.” I grew up in a family that quite simply kept their hands to themselves, and that included showing any physical affection. The few family photos I have are clear evidence of our family dynamic. The photographer always had to stand way far back in order to get the five of us in the picture, since we kept a good foot or more between each family member. Oh sure, we loved each other; we just didn’t touch each other!
My family background gives me a great reason to explain why physical affection doesn’t come naturally to me, but quite frankly, it doesn’t give me an excuse for not showing physical affection to my husband.
Just because our spouses receive love differently than we’re comfortable showing it, doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. Becoming one, as laid out in Genesis 2:18-25, requires us to sacrifice what’s comfortable and easy, in order to live out what’s sacrificial and best.
How does your spouse most eagerly receive your love? Is it through gifts, or service, or encouragement, or time spent together? Or, like my guy, is it through physical affection? Whatever the avenue, learning to show love in the way that makes it most easily received, will build the strength of our marriages and will keep that foundational primary relationship healthy.
All it takes is a heart that is willing to consider our spouse’s needs as more important than our own.
May I encourage you to do a little homework? Sit down and ask your spouse the hard questions: “Do you feel loved by me?” And, “Are there things I could do that would make you feel more loved?”
Prepare your heart ahead of time and don’t get defensive!
Trust me, I understand how hard it is to not be defensive! Just the other day, Steve approached me carefully, (carefully ‘cause sometimes I don’t handle criticism very well…) and told me that he felt like I never wanted to hug him or be physically affectionate anymore. You’d think after all these years of knowing that was my weak spot I would have responded graciously, but if you thought that, you’d be wrong!
Trust me, defensiveness only makes things worse! (Understatement alert)
So prepare yourself ahead of time, ask the questions that need to be asked, and purpose in your heart to do whatever it takes to make sure your spouse feels loved.
Your spouse will be thrilled, your kids will be affirmed by your obvious love for your spouse, and the firm foundation of your marriage will be undergirded and prepared to embrace the days ahead!