Not long ago my husband asked me to write about something my male clients could identify with. His suggestion was:
What happens when your children leave home and you realise that they were the glue holding you and your wife together?
It’s a natural to marry people you think have good maternal/paternal instincts. After all, one of the main reasons people get married is to procreate. However, a good mother/father does not necessarily make a good lifetime companion something which dawns on people when they find themselves with an empty nest. My husband and I are rapidly approaching this stage in life and we are still relatively young and healthy. I wondered if his topic suggestion was a not so subtle hint?!? Hmmm.
Naturally, that transition from family life to me and you life is a major adjustment. It requires gradual and persistent preparation. Yes, sometimes when the children leave it becomes obvious to both parties that the fire is not on slow burn but no burn. Then it is time to part ways. No good comes from staying with someone you may respect but don’t love. “Till death do you part” is a hell of a long time. However, if you want to keep your love alive once the nest is empty, have a long-term game plan and start early.
Here are a few suggestions to help you keep your marriage foundation solid:
- It’s great to be independent but remember to regularly share your troubles and triumphs with your partner. Love is the foundation of a good marriage, but friendship and compromise will carry you a long way.
- Be an active listener and engage with your partner. How often do you actually listen to what your partner says? It’s easy to skim the surface of a conversation, but if you actually listen, you may head off trouble before it grows. Put the iPad down and look them in the eyes when you talk!
- Find mutual interests and engage in them. If you have faith, embrace it together.
- Don’t be afraid to seek counselling. Sage advice from an unbiased party can make cloudy skies clear.
- Let go of anger. It’s not easy to forgive and forget but a long-term undercurrent of anger will poison your partnership.
- Finally, sometimes you just have to embrace the madness that comes with marriage. If you thought about ‘til death do you part’ every time you hit a bump in the road, you’d go surely lose your mind!
Anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship knows that each one is different. If you’re sexing it up after a quarter of a century with your partner, more power to you. If you’re happy with the comfort of a cuddle and a kiss to keep you going – great. In the long run, we all want someone who will make a good life companion. You don’t have to speak for them to know what’s going on, they’re there for the ups and downs in life and every once in a while you might get a lucky. May all you lifers have a Happy Valentine’s Day.