What I know NOW that I wish I had known THEN …the ramblings of an Empty Nester

Honored to welcome my creative, feisty, Jesus-lovin’, gypsy soul mama to my blog space.  When I decided to do a blog series on marriage, I knew that I wanted to share her with others and the wisdom she has imparted to me over the past 31 years.  Obviously I am bias, but I think you will agree that her nuggets of wisdom as it pertains to marriage are powerful and helpful no matter how many years you have been married.  While I can admit that my parents’ marriage is far from perfect, their faithfulness to each other and the unique ways that they love each other have been a rock for me and my siblings.  Not only that, having a front row seat to their marriage now that they are in the sweet years of empty nest has been one of the most beautiful privileges to watch.  

I tell people all the time that I LOVE my empty nest. Certainly, I may be a little selfish but I am truly relishing this new season that me and my husband are in. Having an empty nest sometimes really scares people. There are a lot of variables with this season of life (retirement, health issues, loneliness, etc).  I think, for me, the number one biggest fear was after being so preoccupied with raising a family and all the things that go along with that were gone….I would look across the dinner table and see my husband as a total stranger and question, “Who are you?” and “Where is Us”.

Looking back I have learned quite a bit along the way….and I can honestly say to those newlyweds or to those in the midst of raising their families is that “the best IS yet to come”!
These topics below are my “I wish I knew then what I know now” mantras:

Focus on your log MORE than his speck…..
Early on in our marriage my mama voiced her critical opinions of my husband quite often to me. I knew that she only wanted the best for me but many times I allowed her to voice her opinion way more than I should have. I made the mistake of listening too much to her and coming home with critical thoughts toward him. The thing about critical thoughts is that you forget about your own “log”. Once you allow someone to speak negatively about your spouse you begin to start noticing the tiniest things that they do wrong while forgetting all those things that they do right. When truth be told; their “specks are nothing compared to your “log”. This was totally wrong of me and really tested my marriage. It’s important to not allow others to give their opinions of your spouse. It’s also important to honor your parents. But once married you have to protect your union with your spouse by not listening to negativity from others, even your own parents.
For me I allowed many years of seeing only the wrong that he did instead of seeing all the right. When the good he did far outweighed the bad…..Like the time he sold his most prized possession in order to buy my engagement ring. Or the time the power went off in the dead of winter when I was 3 months pregnant with our first-born. He got up and warmed my clothes in the dryer while I stayed in bed so that I wouldn’t be cold. Or the first time he kissed me, he honored me by kissing me on the cheek. All those things can quickly diminish when we allow critical thoughts to be planted inside our heads.

Comparison is the thief of Joy
I often compared my husband to the other husbands at church. I would hear wives talk about how their husband led the devotions in their homes and prayed with their children every night or morning. This made me grow angry with my husband that he wasn’t taking on the Godly role of a father in our home. I led most of the devotions and also did most of the praying. But one day all that changed when a friend of mine told me that her husband didn’t do those things either and it was ok. That he wasn’t cut out like that. Yes he was a good father but he didn’t do all the things that the other men professed to do in our church. She told me to let my husband be who God created him to be. He may not read a devotion but he walked with integrity in front of our children. No he may not kneel by their bed and pray for them every night but he still prayed for our children in his own way. This right here was a huge eye opener for me. To learn to embrace my husband for “who God created him to be” and not try to shove him into a mold that wasn’t ever created for him. Being true to himself was far greater than being something he wasn’t meant to be.

Normal is just a setting on your dryer.  There is no such thing as a normal marriage. Everyone has their ups and downs AND everyone has a good way of pretending that everything is “normal”. Coming to the realization that we have our issues and that no family is perfect allows you to take the pressure off the other person and to allow for all the ups and downs. The grass is NOT greener on the other side, and no one has the perfect marriage…no one. I didn’t discover this for some time in our marriage. I would see other families and their perfect children and think that they had it all together. That was a fantasy and a lie that the enemy wanted me to believe and he used that to steal my joy on many occasions.

The good news: Men are fully charged with testosterone. The bad news: women are NOT  And with these two variables this can cause considerable anxiety and despair in the bedroom. I remember when the children were little I would lay down with them to avoid the bedroom scene with my husband. (don’t judge…we all do this) Sex just wasn’t a priority for me; sleep was!! I was constantly exhausted from pouring myself out all day to my children that I seldom had time (or wanted time) with my spouse. This led to a lot of arguments at night in bed that ended with jerking the sheets and turning a cold back to each other. I couldn’t understand this and many times I thought he was being selfish (and at some times he may have been, but I was being just as selfish) Sex is a very important part of marriage. You know as well as I that after a “fun”(I’ll let you define “fun”) night with your spouse you are closer the next morning. Why? Because intimacy causes oneness. The latter years of marriage can be just as exciting as the younger years (maybe even more so) But you have to be proactive about your health. As you age many of your hormones diminish as well. One of the things that helps is getting your levels checked by your doctor and replenishing those hormone (if possible; however some health issues prevents this). An empty nest can be the perfect place for “sexual healing” (if you know what I mean)

The Best IS yet to come……

I entered into marriage with WAY high expectations which diminished significantly after children came along. When you have high expectations of another person you set yourself up for disappointment. After many years into my marriage I began to see that we were slowly losing “us”. Life had taken its toll and we allowed it to happen. We didn’t embrace each day. I didn’t put him ahead of my children, and I felt like he put work ahead of us. And, like I stated earlier, I became fearful that once the children had all left home; I would look at a stranger instead of my husband. This thought really concerned me and I would pray often that the, “Lord renew my love for Him. Restore what the locust has eaten. I married my best friend and I wanted to carry it on until the end. So restore and renew Lord.” This was a lot of what I prayed that we wouldn’t “loose us” in the end…that after all the children had gone, I would see my lover instead of a stranger.
Thankfully God honored that quick prayer that I would sometimes mumble under my breath….and once the last moving truck pulled out of the drive with our youngest child’s meager belongings I was thankful and rested in my being; knowing that God had been faithful and I was, again, standing there with my husband and best friend by my side.

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One thought on “What I know NOW that I wish I had known THEN …the ramblings of an Empty Nester

  1. Wow! Honesty is so refreshing. No one ever wants to discuss how hard and trying marriage really is especially when we compare to others. Social media easily compounds the comparison trap. Thank you for the wisdom and for your commitment to God and your husband!

    Like

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