Who is that man across the table? A question many 50-something-year-old women, whose children have left the nest, find themselves asking. If they don’t know the answer, the next few years can be very difficult and frightening. If they, like me, do know the answer, they can be a joy.
Mine is not a marriage I would normally lift up as an example of good. We have had more than our fair share of difficulties. Many of them were of our own making. As my children have grown up, finished homeschooling, and moved on, I find myself alone with my husband more frequently that I have in almost 30 years. We’re having a blast!
I don’t know how much longer I have with him. We could die tomorrow, or we could live another 50 years. I want to enjoy his company. I’m sure all spouses feel the same way. Fifty years is a long time to spend with somebody you don’t like. Can you build a new friendship with that man you’ve been married to for 20 years or more?
How can you build a new friendship with your husband that doesn’t involve taking care of the kids?
If you are willing to put forth some effort, you can enjoy a fresh relationship with that man across the table from you.
The first thing you need to do is ask God. He loves your marriage more than you do. He likes you and your spouse more than you ever liked each other. He loves you both more than anybody can imagine. He also knows exactly what needs to be done to provide a freshness to your relationship.
So, ask Him. Pray. Ask the Creator ofMarriage what needs to be done to set you up for an enjoyable marriage for the rest of your life.
He can give you insight into every aspect of your marriage. God knows what needs to be done about your relationship with your adult children, your finances, your living situation, your home keeping, retirement, and everything you can think of that affects your marriage.
God knows what is loveable and likeable about you and your spouse. You just need to notice it! Believe it or not, He also knows what’s important to you both. He knows what you both like and dislike. These are things which affect how much you enjoy being around somebody. Ask God to guide you in these areas too.
We are warned in the Bible to not become unequally yoked. That means if you are a believer, don’t marry somebody who is not. If you made this mistake, or if you got saved since you married your spouse, you need to pray. Get on your knees every day and pray for their salvation like you are praying for your own life. The condition of your soul is the most fundamental thing that you should have in common. It will make EVERYTHING easier if you are in agreement about this.
It is such a great joy to share with my husband the how the Lord is moving in my life. Jesus Christ empowers me to do things almost every day that amaze me. God does things around me all the time that are so exciting. Sharing these things with somebody who doesn’t know the Lord would be empty. It would painful to have him look at me with no understanding, or worse with skepticism, about these praise reports.
More importantly than how his salvation feels to me, I care about how it feels to him. He is a better man because he knows the Lord. He enjoys things that he couldn’t if he didn’t know the Lord. Most important of all, he has a future. God has a plan for my husband, a plan to prosper him. I love my husband and I want him to prosper as well, for all eternity, not just while I’m here to benefit from it.
The longer you have been married the easier it is to forget why you married in the first place. I have two young friends who were lovely brides a year ago. If anybody asked them or their husbands why they married, they could answer without hesitation. Many people on their 20th anniversary have a little more trouble.
It’s understandable. I’m not judging anybody. We have jobs, children, schooling, friends, church, extended family, and oodles and oodles of other things pulling on our time and our memories every day. Who can remember a feeling from the ancient past? That’s what it can feel like.
Here are some of the things I ask God:
Why did I marry my spouse?
Why did I date him to begin with?
What did I like about him?
What, besides his handsome face, attracted me to him?
Once the Lord answers my questions, I make it a point to remember the answers. When my husband upsets me or disappoints me, I take it to the Lord. I forgive him. Then I remind myself of what I like about him.
This isn’t going to sound spiritual, but the truth is, I find it easier to forgive somebody I like. Knowing that about myself, I make it a point to remind myself of what I like about a person when they sin against me or hurt me. Once I do that, I can forgive, and I can petition God for their good. God shows me what to do once I forgive, like do I let the matter drop or do I go back to them and address something.
It’s not enough to care about your spouse. My husband needs to know I care about him. An easy way to do this is to show interest in his life. I can ask questions about his job or outside interests. This is only helpful if I am truly interested. The only reliable way to seem interested every time you ask is to actually BE interested.
My husband fixed swimming pools and I fixed computer software issues. The only thing we had in common was the word “fix”. Truly that word meant very different things to each of us. If we each stayed in our own little comfortable world, hearing about the other’s day would have been very boring. We developed an interest in each other’s work.
Over the years he moved into management and I moved into education. Homeschooling four children will do that. He truly wanted nothing to do with the homeschooling but he maintained interest in me. He is a people person, so he focused on my relationship with people around me, my friends, other homeschoolers, our children. I love science so I encouraged him to talk about the details of pools, pumps, water flow, electrical circuitry, and the aspects of pool repair that I could view as a scientist. I also like to hear about the people he works with, so I encourage that as well.
Knowing how my husband feels about the people he works with helps me. He describes interactions with them and how he deals with it, both outwardly and internally. It helps me to understand him better. I think maybe that’s why he asks me about the people in my life too.
What Does Your Spouse Like?
I also take time to ask him what he likes. I know that my likes and dislikes have changed some over the years. I assume his must too. The only way to find out is to give him a chance to speak up. I also look for clues in things he says to me and other people.
Years ago, my husband used to tell me that he didn’t care what I did with my hair. Long, short, blonde or brunette, whatever I wanted to do was fine with him. Ten years into our marriage, our only daughter cut ALL of her beautiful blonde locks off. My husband wept. I’m not exaggerating. He wept. He cried like a baby. I was stunned. I had no idea he cared. Later that night I said to him, “You REALLY like long hair, don’t you?” He responded in the affirmative. When I asked him why he never told me that, he said, “It’s your hair. I didn’t think I had a right to tell you what to do with it.” While I appreciated his consideration of my personal rights, I didn’t care what length my hair was, and would have been happy to keep it long if he loved it that much. My hair has been long ever since.
My point is that people don’t always want to admit what they like even when there is nothing embarrassing or shameful about their preference. Pay attention. You can tell when your spouse likes or dislikes something. Don’t get offended if your husband’s favorite dish isn’t your specialty. Learn to make his favorite dish special. If your wife mentions how great it is that Don always opens the door for his wife, start opening the door for your wife. She mentioned it because she likes it.
Now that our kids are out of the house, we have time and money to explore interests we never could before. We’ve cleaned and organized our home. We redecorated some rooms in our house. We’ve started visiting locally owned restaurants. We’ve even begun dabbling in cake decorating together. Some other things couples can do together are travel, sightseeing, fishing, hunting, painting, book clubs, antiquing, cooking, or grilling.
What ideas can you add to the list?
Love is a gift. Your spouse is too. Whether you’ve been married two months or 20 years you and they are worth your best efforts. Be thoughtful and proactive. Don’t waste another day. If you’re already praying and seeking God about your spouse keep at it. If you’re not and everything seems good to you, try it and don’t be surprised if you fall deeper in love. If your relationship is not where you would like it to be, pray, seek God, seek ways to honor your spouse, and fall in love again.
If you have any great ideas for building interests with your spouse, share them with us all below in the comments section.