A recent blog I read has taken me back to the time when our kids were in high school/college and the working force and Manuel and I began to think about what life would look like for us when we were empty nesters. We were parents young so we were empty nesters young. It would be quite a while before Manuel would retire from his fulltime job. I began working at the church when our youngest was a junior in high school. I figured I’d be working at least until he retired. What would we want to do? How would we use our time…? We would talk about it from time to time.
Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, calls that time ‘The Second Half of Marriage’.  In his blog, he talks about the different aspects of this season.  As adults living longer, we not only get to see our children grow and become parents, but we get to sometimes even see our great grandchildren grow too. The godly input and impact we can have as grandparents are tremendous. As a grandparent myself, I heartily agree.  A bumper sticker my husband and I once read says it all – "if I’d have known having grandchildren was so much fun, I’d had them first!"
It is a time to resurrect stalled dreams or dream new dreams. Things you’ve put on hold in order to raise a family. The second half affords time to ‘reconnect’ as a couple. Life with children gets busy and life can crowd out time with one another, sometimes to a detriment to the marriage; but, even if you’re carving out time with one another regularly, that time can be drained talking about all the business of life that you don’t spend time reconnecting. A couple friend of ours would challenge each other that they could not talk about the children when out on a date. That is wise and definitely challenging. 
In his blog, Gary Thomas exhorts couples to embrace the second half of marriage with a ‘seek first’ attitude. More than just thinking about old dreams or new experiences, empty nesters should consider our Lord’s call to seek first the kingdom of God (Matt 6:33). He calls it a marriage miracle when couples embrace joint ministry, serving together, developing new respect and appreciation for someone you’ve known your entire life. He says it is easy to assume you’ve got everything figured out; there’s nothing more to share, discover, talk about… Ministry of any significant kind raises a whole host of other issues; you see a side of yourself and each other that you never knew existed. Anyone who offers themselves to God will find out that when you step out in faith, God gives you words, insight, and caring abilities that you don’t possess on your own. That’s why serving the Lord together can bring new respect, appreciation and admiration because in ministry together, you are cooperating together, meshing, working together for your joint pleasure verses ‘for the kids’ only. God has planted a deep hunger within every married couple for more than companionship. It is also a hunger to do something significant together. We are joined to make a difference. We are married for a mission. Marriages suffer more from lack of purpose. Jesus’ words to us as individuals is truer in marriage: when we give our life away, we find it. When we focus outside of marriage as well as on our marriage, we strengthen it.
If you are still in the busyness of life, raising a family, enjoy it. It is a season, not a job. Yes, it is work, but it will pass, usually sooner than you imagine. If you’re in the middle and haven’t started thinking about what you want to do after kids, I encourage you to begin talking about it on dates. My husband and I knew we wanted to do ministry together. We had no idea what it would look like. There are so many missionary families at Faith. We started inviting different families over for dinner after church to share with us how they knew God wanted them to go into missions, how they knew what they’d want to do in missions… it was very enlightening. From there God birthed in us serving as marriage mentors, giving us a passion to be used for His glory in the lives of other couples’ marriages.  God grows and strengthens us in our own marriage through mentoring.
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by Patti Calderon

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