My nest isn’t completely empty yet, but one chick has flown the coop and the other stays out on long flights most of the time only coming home at night to roost. So I do experience on a regular basis the empty nest.
When I homeschooled, I planned ahead to the days when I would be finished and what I would do to fill those hours previously spent nurturing and instructing my children. My dreams were to write full time and to develop my writing career. For the last few years, having reached my goal of being a published author and realizing that life is about so much more, I’ve been thinking a lot about the next phase in life—when everyone is out—and what I will do with myself then. I work two regular part time jobs, blog, review books, I’m a freelance editor, work with the women’s ministry at my church, and continue to write Christian Romance. So wondering what I’m going to do with my time now that the kids don’t need me on a daily basis isn’t an issue for me.
But it’s not all about me. There’s so much more to life than what I want. And there’s more to it than just the passing of time.
I’m a married woman. That means that I now have the opportunity to go back in time to the days before children. It also means that I must examine my heart to see if I actually want to go back to those “good old days”. Do I want to stoke the fire that I had twenty-five years ago or do I want to move forward in life just being a partner with my husband and making my days be all about me?
I decided that I want to feel like a teenager again. I want to not only love my husband but I want to like him too. I now have time to spend with him uninterrupted, thinking about him when he’s not with me like I used to do before life got so crazy busy, and being his sweetheart. This doesn’t happen without being purposeful though. Why? Because I’m human. I have a selfish human nature. I naturally will fill my time with things that revolve around me and my personal pursuits if I’m not intentional.
Recently, we took our second ever trip without the children. This trip was for our 25th anniversary. We went back to Gulf Shores, Alabama, where we went on our honeymoon. I decided before we left that I would not spend my time on the computer working on my most recent novel nor would I spend any more time than I had to checking in with work. Although I brought a book or two to read, I didn’t want to hide between the front and back covers of those books and miss out on this time with my husband. So what did I do? I spent time with him. And I got him to “re-teach” me how to fish. We spent every evening together fishing into the wee hours of the night. We laughed. We talked. We ate way too many calories. And guess what he did for me. He sat with me for hours at a time on the shoreline, basking in the beauty of the surf. We spent time together without the kids. Do you know what we re-discovered? We like each other. And we still love each other.
So how do women with empty nests (or nearly empty nests) find balance between “me” and “us” when the world is against our Holy unions?
- Spend time with the Lord (separately and together). This is most important of all. When you are walking with the Lord and encouraging (not nagging) him to do the same, you will naturally grow closer to one another. This will help you not to drift apart as the years go by.
- Make it important to spend time together. Watch television with your husband even if you aren’t interested in the show he’s watching. Chat about something other than the bills or the children. Play games and read a book together. You know what the two of you have in common so start there. What one couple will find fun, another will not. Use your imagination.
- Learn how to speak your spouse’s love language. The five love languages are: Words of affirmation, physical touch, time spent together, acts of service, and gifts. What is your husband’s love language? Spend a little bit of time figuring that out and then minister to him that way. Remember that we often love others according to our own love language and then get our feelings hurt when they don’t respond with the enthusiasm we would. If you learn his language and help him learn yours, your spark will be rekindled.
- Going back to how I started this post, spend time alone exploring your hobby so you don’t resent his. There is nothing wrong with having a hobby—something that you can call your own. As long as it isn’t contrary to your marriage, that is. But wives can easily become jealous of their husbands and their hobbies if they don’t have some little something they like to do themselves.
There are many things women can do to make sure that they don’t fly the nest when their children do and that they don’t fill the empty space with things that aren’t God-honoring. This can be a lonely time in a woman’s life or it can be a time that she reaches way down deep into her heart and digs out her “old self” and rejuvenates her marriage, her life, and the lives of everyone around her.
Beach pictures and picture of me (with terrible beach hair) were taken on our anniversary trip.
Bird’s nest: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1209474
~written by Sherri