How well do we believe our investments are doing this year? How well do we think our investments will do in the New Year? I am not talking about investing in money but investing in our marriage and relationships. As we look back over this year, we need to ask ourselves this question: Did I make time for my partner or was I so busy with my job and other activities that I had little time with my partner?
I did a seminar a couple of years ago on the topic "How Retirement Impacts Our Marriage." I shared that the second highest divorce rate is during retirement and during the empty nest time. Why is that? This time could be one of the best times in our marriage or relationship. We have a chance to renew our friendship and do some of the things that we could not do when the children were home. We don't have to buy as much food and we can play more. So what is the problem?
Actually, there are two main culprits. First, if we fail to make time with our partner for intimacy talk, our partner may seem like a stranger when the job is over and the children are out of the home. Most couples don't have conversation that builds closeness any more than 30 minutes a week. Often our "conversation" is what I call "maintenance" or "operational" talk. "What's on TV?" and "What's for dinner?"
Closeness or intimacy talk is sharing what goes on in us. What was it like to be a work today or with the children? When we are sharing ourselves, we are building intimacy.
The second culprit is unresolved issues. We have to ask ourselves, when we have an argument, do we have resolution or is the issue swept under the rug? When nothing gets resolves, resentments build up. Resentments create distance and numbness. So during the empty nest period and retirement, these unresolved issues emerge. We have to face them because we cannot escape to our jobs or children.
If you are in the early stages of marriage, you may think this article doesn't apply to you. You would be wrong!! You need to begin investing in your marriage/relationship NOW so you are not one of those statistics. Make plans now to have coupleship time. Coupleship time is intentionally setting time to have intimacy talk. It can be ten minutes several times a week. It can do wonders for your closeness and communication. Along with coupleship time, make time for date nights.
To prevent numbness and resentments building in each other, have a structure for dealing with conflict so that the issues get resolved.
We all need to be intentional about investing in our marriage/relationship by making time for each other and by trying to resolve the issues that create conflict.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700
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