Staying Soulmates in the Empty Nest

 

This past Sunday, we wrapped up our Bad Dates, Roommates & Soulmates series with “The Empty Nest.” Remember, falling in love only requires a pulse, but staying in love requires a plan. The empty nest can be a wonderful season of marital satisfaction, but it can also be a season filled with crisis because of the changes in family and marriage dynamics.

According to a 2012 research paper entitled “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” the authors crunched marriage data and discovered that of all those who divorced in 2009, one in four was age 50 or older, compared with one in ten in 1990. Why the jump in divorces for this age group? Could it be that as people begin to realize they are going to live longer, they don’t want to spend the rest of their life in an unhappy and unfulfilled marriage? One husband, married twenty-five years, commented, “We never had a very close relationship, but the kids kept us together. They were our connecting point. When they left home, it was just the two of us, with no buffers. We had nothing in common and decided it was crazy to waste the rest of our lives. So we divorced.” Unfortunately, this is all too common in marriages entering this season of life.

Here are three keys to staying in love through the empty nest years (David & Claudia Arp’s book The Second Half of Marriage was very helpful in developing these three keys):

1. Commit to making the rest of your marriage the best. You may have some marriage disappointments and unfulfilled expectations. Take some time and assess your expectations. Are they realistic or unrealistic? Forgive your spouse. Give them grace. Make a decision with Jesus’ love and mercy to make the second half of your marriage the best season of your marriage.

2. Focus on your spouse more than your kids. This is applicable for any season of marriage. Healthy families begin with healthy marriages. As I said on Sunday, one of the best gifts you can give your children is a mother and father who deeply love each other. Schedule a regular date night (at least once a month) with your spouse.

3. Renew the romance in your marriage. Sex is a beautiful gift for all seasons of marriage, and as you enter into the empty nest, take time to talk about this aspect of your marriage relationship. Remember King Solomon’s sage wisdom, “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18). Enjoy your spouse for a lifetime!

Here are some great resources for the empty nest season of marriage:

What 50 Years of Marriage Looks Like (Warning: have tissues in hand)

The Second Half of Marriage – David & Claudia Arp

Boomerang Kids – Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D (a book for those of you with children who have moved back into your home). Dr. Pickhardt also provide a “Contract for Parents and Kids” that can provide clarity and expectations if and when your kids move back into your home.

Some great articles by Family Life on Empty Nest and Mid-Life issues

If you’re struggling in your marriage, please fill out this confidential marriage help questionnaire, and Northshore can get you the help you need!

Intimacy Builders in Marriage

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This past Sunday, we continued our Bad Dates, Roommates, and Soulmates series with “The Bedroom: Battleground or Playground.” One of God’s key designs for sex in marriage is intimacy. Therefore, we need to pursue “intimacy builders” (day to day, heart to heart, and then body to body) instead of “intimacy busters” (unresolved conflict, unrealistic expectations, and unhealthy substitutes). Here are a few insights about building intimacy:

1. Day to day intimacy. Do you have a regular time in which you debrief your day with your spouse? Paige and I do the quick run-through of the our day when I first get home in the evening. But we often find some more extended time after our son has gone to bed to do a “deep dive” into our day. Sometimes in the deep dive, we simply talk more deeply about one part of our day. Also, each evening before or in the morning of, we ask each other what we have going on in our respective responsibilities that day. We’ll often send each other a quick text to let the other know we’re thinking about them. These are some simple ways to pursue day to day intimacy.

2. Heart to heart intimacy. This is all about sharing more of inner emotional worlds with each other. If we don’t create the space and time, it often won’t happen. Regular date nights help with this. You have to define with your spouse what “regular” is. I’d recommend at least weekly or monthly. This will take some planning, coordination, and creativity. And then once you’re on the date, it will take one of you being vulnerable enough to start the conversation about heart-level issues.

3. Body to body intimacy. Sex is a thermometer and not a thermostat. Sex measures the emotional and spiritual intimacy that’s already there. Be willing to have honest, open conversations about this part of your relationship because unrealistic expectations are an intimacy buster. Husbands, understand your wife’s need for emotional and heart to heart intimacy. Wives, understand your husband’s need for body to body intimacy. I like Eugene Peterson’s The Message Bible translation of 1 Corinthians 7:2-6:

Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. I’m not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence—only providing my best counsel if you should choose them.

A couple of final things: (1) If you haven’t signed up for the Becoming Soulmates one-day marriage event with Drs. Les & Leslie Parrot, there is still some room left. It’s filling up quickly, so don’t wait. And (2) if you need help in your marriage, please fill out this confidential marriage help questionnaire or call 425-216-4435, and we will get you the help you need.

Prayers for Myers-Briggs Types

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In a recent message in our Bad Dates, Roommates & Soulmates series, I taught on “Reconcilable Differences: Dealing with Conflict in Marriage.” Understanding our differences can actually depend our oneness. We discussed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as a tool to help us understand personality differences. In response to those differences, a friend sent me some humorous prayers for the different Myers-Briggs Types:

ISTJ: Lord help me to relax about insignificant details beginning tomorrow at 11:41.23 am e.s.t.

ISTP: God help me to consider people’s feelings, even if most of them ARE hypersensitive.

ESTP: God help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they’re usually NOT my fault.

ESTJ: God, help me to not try to RUN everything. But, if You need some help, just ask.

ISFJ: Lord, help me to be more laid back and help me to do it EXACTLY right.

ISFP: Lord, help me to stand up for my rights (if you don’t mind my asking).

ESFP: God help me to take things more seriously, especially parties and dancing.

ESFJ: God give me patience, and I mean right NOW.

INFJ: Lord help me not be a perfectionist. (did I spell that correctly?)

INFP: God, help me to finish everything I sta

ENFP: God,help me to keep my mind on one th-Look a bird-ing at a time.

ENFJ: God help me to do only what I can and trust you for the rest. Do you mind putting that in writing?

INTJ: Lord keep me open to others’ ideas, WRONG though they may be.

INTP: Lord help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.

ENTP: Lord help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I’ll settle for a few minutes.

ENTJ: Lord, help me slow downandnotrushthroughwhatIdo.

Amen.

If you haven’t signed up for the Becoming Soulmates one-day marriage event with Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, you don’t want to miss it. And if you need help in your marriage, fill out this confidential marriage help questionnaire, and we will get you the help you need!

3 Marriage Myths

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This past Sunday in our Bad Dates, Roommates & Soulmates series, we talked about “Happily Ever After… & Other Myths” and discovered God’s design for marriage. The key to experiencing marriage as God designed it is to be a GIVER. The three marriage myths (see the pic above) we unpacked are all about being a “get-er” (what do I get out of this relationship?), whereas God’s design is for us to be a giver. In Ephesians 5:21-33, Paul teaches us about the importance and interplay of mutual submission and sacrifice, as well as love and respect. If you want to live out God’s design for marriage, then one question that can change everything is, “What can I do to help?” This one question tells other people that you’re in the relationship to be a giver and not a get-er.

Here are some great resources for exploring some of these topics further:

The Myth of Happily Ever After vs. A Biblical Worldview Perspective – An article that more fully explores marriage myths

The Love and Respect Principle – A great seven-article (short) series on love and respect

Sacred Marriage – My all-time favorite book on marriage. It was a game-changer in my own marriage!

Three final, important things: (1) This Sunday, we’re talking about communication and conflict. It will be a very practical look at personality differences in relationships and how they can actually work to your advantage. (2) If you haven’t signed up for the Becoming Soulmates one-day marriage event with Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, you don’t want to miss it. And (3) if you need help in your marriage, fill out this confidential marriage help questionnaire, and we will get you the help you need!

New Series: Bad Dates, Roommates & Soulmates

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We all want healthy relationships. But let’s face it. It’s hard work. From dating to marriage to parenting, it takes considerable effort to develop good relationships. On top of that, most of us have had a relationship that’s gone bad. We’ve all been hurt. We all have a past. We all have expectations, some realistic, some unrealistic. From bad dates to roommates to soulmates, we need to learn how to have healthy relationships—God’s way. What does God, the One who created relationships, have to say about how we connect with each other? What does God have to say about dating, marriage, sex, and parenting? Don’t miss this series is you want to learn how to make bad relationships better and good relationships great.

Here’s the series schedule:

September 15 – Healthy Relationship (Special Guest Speaker: Dr. Les Parrott)

September 22 – Happily Ever After… & Other Myths

September 29 – Reconcilable Differences: Dealing with Conflict in Marriage

October 6 – Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right

October 13 – The Bedroom: Battleground or Playground (Warning: PG-13 Message)

October 20 – Parental Guidance Required

October 26 (Saturday) – Becoming Soulmates Marriage Conference with Les & Leslie Parrott

October 27 – The Empty Nest

This will be a great series to invite a friend or family member. Be sure to get in a small group for the full experience. The Small Group Leader’s Guide is available here. For more information on Northshore and our Sunday services, click HERE.