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Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Take time to consider what season your marriage is in.
A week ago my wife and I dropped off our youngest daughter to begin her college career. That's right, we are officially empty nesters.
The significance of this new season still has not sunk in fully, but it's a big milestone. I realized a few months ago, the more my wife and I talked about it, that this change would have an especially hard emotional impact on my wife, Jenni.
I knew it would be really important for us to spend some time processing and praying into the coming season, so I found a deal on a rustic cabin a few hours from our home and booked it for the weekend immediately after taking our daughter. I wanted us to get away from our normal routine in a beautiful surrounding. The photos in this post give you a glimpse of some of that beauty we got to enjoy.
Discerning the Seasons
Whatever the cause, it is important to discern the seasons.
Start by keeping an eye on changing circumstances. Realize that changes can often impact one spouse more than another. My wife's reaction to empty nest, for example, is quite different than my own.
Even small changes might trigger a need to examine where you are and where you are going. Keep your eyes open. Be watchful over your spouse and your marriage. Maintain intimacy and watch for signs:
- Do you or your spouse withdraw emotionally for long periods?
- Has the frequency of your sexual interactions dropped off?
- Are there seemingly unprompted emotional episodes (crying, anger, fear or anxiety)?
- Have sleep patterns changed (excessive or inability to sleep)?
Even if there haven't been any changes in a while, it is a good idea to periodically spend time together prayerfully examining your life and marriage and asking important questions.
Responding to the Season
It is critical to be proactive in communicating about, responding to and adapting to each new season.
During our weekend getaway, there were a number of things we considered as part of your reflections. Here are just s few suggestions:
- Ask your spouse, "What do you need from me in the coming season?"
- Identify how needs and priorities may have changed from the past. Don't assume.
- Get specific. Ask, "What would that look like to you?"
- Consider how you can stay connected and maintain emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy.
- Talk about lifestyle changes that might need to accompany the new season. For example, my wife and I have decided that getting healthier through diet and fitness is something we want to focus on.
Every husband should be continually watching over his wife and marriage (and children) to discern and respond to seasonal changes. He isn't to control or dictate the response but to lead the conversation.
Yes, I know that conversation isn't a strong suit for a lot of husbands. Do it anyway. You won't get better at it until you put forth effort in that direction. If you aren't sure where to start, use the questions above as a starting point.
I'm not saying that wives shouldn't also be watchful and aware of seasons. I think most women are naturally more attuned to such things anyway. What I am saying is that a husband who steps forward in this effort will make his wife feel loved and taken care of in a significant way.
What new seasons has your marriage faced lately? What have you and your spouse done to keep your marriage strong in response? I'm sure some of you have some insights for the rest of us.
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