11 Jul Investing in Your Marriage; Five Transition Tips
We spend countless hours and dollars investing our money, making sure it’s well diversified and there for us when we need it. We care for it, think about it, and coddle it. Are you giving your marriage the same attention?
I ask this question because I’m going through an important life change right now. My wife and I have been married for 26 years this June, and our two oldest sons have graduated from college and are now married. Our daughter will be a junior in college and isn’t home much. Needless to say, during this empty nester phase our lives have changed dramatically. The C Ranch was once a house full of kids, with dinners on the go, Suburban rides, sporting events, and countless sleepovers. Now, it’s much more quiet and peaceful.
The question that keeps coming up for us is “who are we as a couple now that we aren’t full time parents anymore?” We’re exploring what we would like to do together now that we have the bandwidth to think about it again. Shifting our focus has been and can be both an uncomfortable and exciting time of renewal.
As our kids grew older and less dependent, I found that I intuitively saw this period coming but didn’t really know how to deal with it until it occurred. Just like when that first child arrives you don’t know how to be a parent, but you somehow figure it out. Likewise, we will figure it out, but we are seeing a few helpful hints that I thought to share with my friends and clients:
- Be intentional about investing time into your marriage without the kids being around. Date night is a popular concept and this is just one good way to make sure you keep reminding each other that you were a couple before you had kids.
- Prepare for the transition by talking to friends and family about what to expect and how to navigate this important time. I know that we are asking and getting great input on how to transition from others in our circle of friends that have gone through it.
- Spend time with other people in your situation so you can compare notes on what is working and what isn’t. Building out your friendships will be important now that you don’t have “kid events” to create the glue for relationships.
- Don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling help to address deferred maintenance in your relationship and work on ways to communicate better. This isn’t a sign of weakness – and in fact takes great courage and can yield powerful results.
- Give yourself the margin in your life to process these important changes and don’t gloss over them hoping they will somehow disappear.
I’ve found this time of life transition to be very emotional. It will pass, and I will intentionally go through it gracefully and with my relationship with my wife not only intact, but stronger. This takes work and focus just like anything important in your life that you care about. In my opinion, your marriage relationship has deep impacts on the rest of your life, just like your investments do, and I would argue even much greater.
What can you do to invest in your marriage and make sure it will last just like your portfolio?