Empty Nester Marriage Making An Impact

catholic life coaching May 20, 2022

My youngest son recently graduated from high school and will go off to college in a few short months. My oldest son is soon to become a father, so my husband and I will become grandparents. We are thrilled about this new role. Both of these events signal new phases in our married life.

For the past 32 years, we have focused on raising our children. 

We’ve poured our hearts and souls into providing for them, feeding them, making sure they got a good education, encouraging them, teaching them life lessons and most importantly sharing our faith with them. I was recently telling a friend that the days of homework, early bedtimes, sports practices, birthday parties, school projects and so much more, seemed like they were going to last forever. 

Until one day it was all over. 

When you are in the midst of that season in your life the days can seem long and ordinary, they seem like a quiet parade going by. Yet looking back those were precious days. They were days that now bring me to tears because they are no longer there. Days full of memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Even though some days were difficult and stressful, the difficult days seem to fade to the back of my mind and what I am left with are memories of laughter, love and joy.

I am reading The Wealthy Gardener by John Soforic. In the beginning of the book, he talks about how we spend our days. He refers to the hours of our day as either impact hours or hollow hours. An impact hour is sixty minutes of doing the right thing that will lead you to a critical outcome which in turn allows you to reach your goals. A hollow hour is simply sixty minutes of unproductive time where the result leaves you in the same place you started. Now, impact hours can be in your business or professional lives, but they can also be in your spiritual life. An hour in prayer, meditation, or adoration will have a huge impact on your life. You can also have impact hours in your marriage or family life. It is a time where you focus on your spouse or children without distractions. An impact hour in your marriage includes heartfelt conversations by simply listening and being present. We live in a world full of distractions so being present in the current moment takes tremendous effort. 

In The Wealthy Gardener, John Soforic, refers to life as a quiet parade of days. 

Your life is like a quiet parade of days. 

Think about a time when you were at a parade, the floats appear on the horizon and slowly make their way to where you are standing and then they slowly fade away. You know they are coming, you see them, hear them and then they are simply gone. Some floats are more exciting than others, some are more colorful and lively, some are loud, some are fun and then there are some that are drab and boring. Some are just floats, they come and go without much impact.This is similar to your life. Some days are exciting and eventful, but some days are very ordinary.

This quote made me think of marriage and how easy it is for marriage to quietly go by like a parade as you raise your family, build your career and meet the demands of life. 

Staying connected in your marriage is the key to a happy, healthy and enduring marriage. One day, you’ll wake up and the kids will have moved on, the house will be quiet and you will be transitioning into a new identity.

There is a current phenomenon with long-time married couples called a gray divorce. 

It is in reference to the rising number of middle-aged and older adults who have turned to divorce instead of remaining with their spouse in later life or after long marriages. Those 50 years of age and older have seen divorce rates in later life skyrocket. Being an Empty Nester requires a new focus and being intentional about time together. A good marriage takes time, effort and being proactive.

Here are 3 ways to connect with your spouse.

  1. Create a dedicated “impact hour” each day where you spend time together. Put down your phones or any other distractions. Listen and respond with your heart as together you share your day, your successes, your struggles, your hopes and dreams. Connections are created with time.
  2. Don’t take a single day for granted. Each morning when as your feet hit the floor, pause to thank God for another opportunity to to serve him. Thank Him for the chance to show your spouse, your children and loved ones just how much you love them. Go ahead and give thanks to God for all of the blessings that he will pour into your life that day. The ones that are seen, but also the ones that are unseen. Gratitude opens you up to a life of love and joy. 
  3. If life is a parade, then create the biggest, most colorful, exciting float that you can. What does this mean? Sit down with your spouse and dream big! God doesn’t want you to play small or live in fear. What are that desires in your heart? What do you dream of accomplishing? Where do you want to travel? What do you want to do together? When your brain tells you it is impossible(and it will) don’t listen! Your brain is only trying to protect you because going after your dreams could be hard, it might now work out or you might fail. If you don’t dream big, then you might miss what God has planned for your life. When your dreams align with God’s purpose in your life then nothing can stop you. 

Don't let the days of your life quietly come and go.

When you decide to create an impact by connecting in your marriage, then you will make a difference in your family, your community and in the world.

 

Your marriage will be a light shining brightly for others to see what is possible!

 

Jennie is Life Coach for Mid-Life Catholics. Her work centers on helping married couples reconnect and refocus on their marriage once they become Empty Nesters. Go to www.jennieguinnlifecoach.com to learn more.