by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery
Everyone said I’d hate this phase. That I’d grow listless, depressed. Perhaps even lose my sense of identity.
That, after eighteen years of parenting, when our daughter moved out, my world would shift so dramatically, I’d flounder and fidget and mope. And maybe buy an obscene number of cats. Or chocolate.
The latter part might be true, but I no longer have to hide in the pantry to enjoy it. In fact, I can have ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if I choose. We can eat reclined on the couch, or go out, or do whatever else dating folks do, because in a way, it feels as if that’s what we’ve become—the dating couple. Or maybe the newlyweds, only better, because we have twenty plus years of pushing through the hard.
That kind of love doesn’t come easy, and it doesn’t come over night, but once it comes, man is it sweet. And I’ve determined to enjoy every silly, giggly, slightly-cheesy drop in this new life stage.
A couple months ago, my husband and I cleared our schedule, left all the boring aspects of our marriage, like laundry and cooking, behind for a weekend, and took off for the windy city. We chose not to rent a car and would instead travel wherever we wanted to go, whenever we wanted to get there, by foot.
It’d be so romantic. We’d stroll hand in hand through the art museum, watch the Cubbies land a win from our rooftop seats across the street, and we’d end our weekend with the best, gluten free dessert imaginable!
It rained. And not just a little. I’m talking near-Noah caliber. The Cubs game was canceled, and that rooftop experience we’d paid so much money for was filled with loud, beer-sloshing drunks.
We didn’t get to do anything we planned. Except eat. We did a lot of that. And I suppose, sitting in a busy coffee shop watching the sky quite literally “rain on our parade,” I could’ve been upset. Could’ve made us both miserable in fact.
Instead, we chose to enjoy our time together, to focus on every blessing, and celebrate all the ways God has transformed and strengthened our marriage over the years. We chose, as best as we could, to express the kind of love described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (ESV).
Love is patient, longsuffering. It bears all things, including disappointments, a change of plans, and the occasional downpour. It’s not irritable. Instead, it rejoices and celebrates everything good and pure.
But most importantly, love never ends.
I learned something early on in our marriage, something that’s carried me through countless moves, disrupted plans, and canceled events—life, and romance, are what I make them. As fun as the Cubbies and museum would’ve been, those things have nothing on my man. And when it was all said and done, I got to spend two full days and nights with my hero, God’s gift to me.
Perhaps this applies to empty nesting as well. Life is always changing, and our roles will constantly shift, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. To the contrary—our next role or mishap or season could be the most romantic yet!
About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE to stay up to date with her future appearances, projects, and releases. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
Join the conversation: What blessings have you received in your stage of a relationship?