After the kids are gone…

Heather and I have been married for nearly 20 years.  We’re only about 3.5 years away from potentially being empty-nesters.  And we would tell you that the first nearly 17 years of parenting has seemed to fly by, so I can only imagine how quickly these next few years will go.  The speed seems to pick up as your children age.

And when the kids leave our house someday, I don’t want to be looking at my wife and thinking, who are you?  I don’t want to have to rekindle a marital love after the kids leave.  Heather and I absolutely love being parents.  We love the stage we are in, and our kids bring us great joy and teach us so much.  And yet, I will tell you that as much as we love having our children at home, Heather and I also look forward to when our children leave our home.

It will be extremely hard to not see their faces day in and day out, and hug their necks, and kiss their faces, and it will make the times they come home, or we go and visit that much sweeter.  So it will be hard, but it will also be a blessing, because it will free Heather and me up to pursue one another in a new way.  We have a list going of places around the US that we’d love to travel to and check out.  The house will be quieter, but it will also be filled with a husband and wife who love one another deeply and are still intimate and tender in our affection with one another.  That is our dream, our vision of what we want our marriage to look like years from now.

To get there, to pursue that vision, to be ready for that new season means that we will need to be very intentional about how we love one another now in 2016.  I’m not just talking about later this year, but later today, and this week, and month.  And that is not easy is it?

That doesn’t come naturally to our sinful, selfish tendencies.  You can’t have the kind of marriage, let alone the intimacy described in the book of Song of Solomon, without Christ.  Without living fully surrendered to His love and truth.  God cares deeply about your relationship with one another, so much so that He has given us a book of the Bible that reminds us of God’s design.

The love between a husband and wife is to reflect the love between Jesus and us.  As we live surrendered to Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to transform and empower us, our hearts, attitudes, and desires are made new.  And I don’t know about you, but I am desperate and in need of God’s power if I am going to love my wife the way God calls me to.  I can’t do this on my own strength, and neither can you.

Heather bought a book a few years ago called 25 Surprising Marriages.  It basically covers 25 marriages of significant people in the history of the church.  People like Billy Graham, Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, John Wesley, and CS Lewis.  It is like an inside look at how their marriages were, how they met, the conflicts they worked through, how they were very similar or very different between husband and wife.  It is fascinating to me.

Listen to this quote regarding Charles and Susie Spurgeon.  It gives us another picture of what a lifetime of marriage looks like…

In a sermon on marriage, Charles Spurgeon mentioned that a model marriage is “founded on pure love and cemented in mutual esteem.”  He was describing his own marriage.  “Their object in life is common.  There are points where their affections so intimately unite that none could tell which is first and which is second…their wishes blend, their hearts indivisible.  By degrees they come to think very much the same thoughts.  Intimate association creates conformity; I have known this to become complete that, at the same moment, the same utterance has leaped to both their lips.  If Heaven be found on earth, they have it”

That sounds like the Biblical picture of two becoming one.  And then here’s a quote from Ruth Graham, wife of Billy Graham.

Ruth was asked to give advice to a young woman about to be married.  Said Ruth, ‘Don’t expect your husband to be what only Jesus can be.  Don’t expect him to give you the security, the joy, the peace, the love that only God Himself can give you.’

Keep in mind she is talking about Billy Graham.  Who we might easily think would’ve been the perfect husband.  And here is Ruth Graham saying, Jesus is still my number one.  He is who I am devoted to.  He is who I love and who has given me salvation, joy and peace.  Jesus is ultimate in my life.

The greatest way that you can grow as a husband or wife, or a future husband and wife is to live in a way where Jesus is ultimate, supreme, and almighty in your heart and life.

Do you have a vision for your marriage?  Your marriage that is 10-20-30 years away from today?  Are you allowing Jesus to rule over your heart now in 2016, so that the vision of marital romance, intimacy, and friendship will be there for years and years?  How is your own selfishness and pride hindering your marriage?

This week…put down the distractions, have an honest and grace-filled conversation, and pray together, committing yourselves and your marriage to God’s purposes and vision for the future!