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April 22, 2020 2:00 am
The chicks have flown the nest. Now what? Author Dave Harvey believes that when young adults leave home, it reveals what a couple has built throughout their marriage. Of course, there will be some adjustments as responsibilities shift and couples rediscover each other. A husband and wife may even realize that they're living as strangers, and their spiritual walk is on life support. Harvey reminds couples to get help if needed and stir up the fires that once were flames. It's never too late to build a marriage that's great!
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There's a fundamental question every married couple with children needs to be asking themselves the question is, is our love and commitment to one another. What's holding us together or is it our kids that are keeping us together as a couple birthday party.
I think that is a chronic issue where parenting creates this clause that allows you to tolerate a lot of marriage dysfunction. The kids create a kind of gravity and elective centripetal force that keeps everybody together in the same orbit and the kids leave and being parents realize we don't have a marriage. We parents in their no longer there and they don't know what ground they stand. This is family life to the hosts are Dave Mandelson and Bob Lapine will find this online family life today.com you have a vision for what your marriage will be after the kids are gone and are you nurturing that vision today is a couple talk more about that today with Dave Harvey's and welcome to family life to. Thanks for joining us.
You guys weren't wearing kind of the same marriage season that we are with kids empty nest having left the home and I was thinking about this. This week I was gone. I didn't know how much I would like this season I really this is a great seeing Marianne my game as well and again I was surprised, yes. I mean, obviously you're disappointed when they leave in your you grieve.
In some ways, but man it's like two days after they were gone over, and I'm thinking all they just don't say talking this week about seasons and about defining moments in marriage. Dave Harvey is joining us today. Welcome back to be back on.
Dave has written a new book on marriage your book 10 years ago called when sinners say I do.
He's written a new book called I still do growing closer and stronger through life's defining moments. A lot of couples they get to the season that we are in an they start thing about divorce because they have not been preparing for this season or the emotional toll of the season takes him by surprise. Or they just look at each other know who are you, we've had we been so focused on the kids. We have been anything for us. It's interesting how this season affects people differently. Yeah it's so funny I was just reading a book by David Brooks second mountain in the aegis of this quote I thought that's it. He said I don't know of many happy marriages. He said I know a lot of marriages were parents love their kids and I think that is a chronic issue where parenting creates this clause that allows you to tolerate a lot of marriage dysfunction. The kids create a kind of gravity and elective centripetal force that's that keeps everybody together in the same orbit and then the kids leave and the parents realize we don't have a marriage. We were parents and their no longer there and they don't know what ground they stand on to so many women in that famous inmate said my husband and I didn't get along very well. Not that the kids are gone. I'm realizing I really don't like you know yeah I got a buddy he and his wife went through a very difficult time, but it didn't really surface until he sold his company and their kids moved out all around the same time and they were together under the same roof a lot. He begin to display the kind of behavior he was displaying all along it was buffered by the presence of the children in the schedules and all that all sudden she realized she didn't have a voice into that he wasn't really any different than he ever was.
And it became this defining moment for them with actually had to separate. Fortunately, that a property where he could remain on the property but basically had to reset in their late 50s how the put their marriage is going to look like and and as a result there's this beautiful thing that's come about work. She's found a voice in the marriage. He's come to terms with some of the some of the harsh ways that he would relate to his wife, but none of it really surfaced in a way that they were working through it while the kids were present. They made it.
It's one of those beautiful stores and sadly one of the more unusual ones you know to be where we are in a season of marriage. That's a sweet season in this chapter that were EMS weight as we look toward the finish line.
And honestly that's that's kind of the season ran right by.
But it's it for it to be a sweet season. You would think okay you must have been working hard during the time when you had your kids. In order for the marriage to be the way it is. Honestly looking back I wouldn't say we were we were really good. We did not have the weekly date nights that we encourage other people to have we got wrapped up in business related things are kid related things and we probably pressed clause on building our marriage during that season so I think we find ourselves in a situation where now that the kids are gone and we have unimpressed cause and it's just the two of us. We are fortunate to say all yeah we still like each other and still have a lot in common and still now are enjoying kind of the rediscovery of some of that Marianne's amazing you that I think you should cling to hurt your finger on it. We did have a again a transition season where we had to adjust to the new normal, where you drive home and and you walk in and it's quiet instead of there being a lot of activity in the house or where the things you have to talk about don't include the daily activities of the kids in your thinking what that's not what were talking about then what are we talking about. There's a transition but did you and Kim go through transition when the nest finally I sure can. I said I think it was harder for Kim. I think that there was a way that we both experienced it. But it was different for her and in her role on me in my role as mother and father, husband and wife.
One of the ways that God graced us and it's not like it was hard work but we really did have regular date nights invested in the marriage communicated to the kids that it's first and primarily about the marriage. The best way we can serve you is to have a healthy marriage and believe that and so the kids leaving didn't not become this disruptive thing was it was something that we were. I think prepared for. Nevertheless, the change in rhythm the sense that you have these people that you love deeply that you you know had such, it is been so connected to not needing you in the same ways and moving on in life, you know, I think a more mature couple would be would be saying well that's great God bless them, but I figured it pulled at our heartstrings in the same way that it does a lot of folks and we, you know, we miss that there there really is another sense, where I think we know we have tried to say to her children as adults, we love you, but were not going to be emotionally dependent upon you, and so were not going to look to you, you know, for the things that that we need emotionally.
We want to be there to serve you and so I think it's kind of maybe adjusted the relationship to a good place where you were not overly neat needing your dependent upon them when he said of the couple that isn't experiencing that I'm thinking of it could go either way. But the mom who now the kids of left and she doesn't feel this incredible love from her husband. Their distant been parents more than husband, wife, and now the kids are gone and she's overly dependent on their desires and run into them not being aware of it because that generally happens without being aware yeah you're tied to them emotionally silent, defining moment that when the kids leave because it really does become a defining moment for the marriage reveals what I really have built and so yeah I think if somebody's listening and there in that position don't be ashamed. Don't be embarrassed you're standing next to the rest of us to go through these understandable and necessary adjustments and that there are a whole lot of people that understand and can relate to what you're feeling where you're living right now. I think the danger that you have is the shame that you may feel about it that you you somehow feel like you should be in a different place that it shouldn't be like this that somehow because of the value system that you've embraced the church you go to the passages you've memorized that you shouldn't have these feelings are this experience, but really I think you should look at it as a rescue. There's a loving God who is surfacing this because this is a time where you're being prepared to finish the race strong so don't sit on this reach out. Get help. Be honest with your spouse about where you are and how you're feeling.
I think a lot of times in this season. Couples look at each other and say we don't have anything in common anymore and this is where you may need someone who can sit down and say let's rediscover you do have things in common. You've got kids in common. Even if they're not still at home you have things that you had in common years ago that brought you together that have atrophied. Let's rediscover the commonality decided, yeah, that's right. Although some spouses would say no that they did for one of us during the marriage, and that's part of the frustration that the husband or the wife is feeling right now is that their spouses less spiritually involved than they were maybe 10 years ago, but you can come back and say what are those commonalities and part of the commonalities we should be building our marriage around.
That's where you can say where does God fit into our relationship in the in the years ahead. If one has drifted. Let's address that and asked the question what is this mean for who you are in for where our marriages and for where it needs to be but your point, you may need some outside help. This may not be something that husband and wife can just do a weekend getaway and tackle on their own right now I think folks have to realize you know if you're listening and you have teenage kids.
There is an experience that awaits you.
That's going to shuffle your relationships with the kids. It's an inevitable thing.
It doesn't mean they're going to be worse.
In fact, I think it could be positioning you for them to be even better.
As you cultivate a relationship with your adult kids, but this transition of the kids leaving home is a defining moment in life because it really does have a seismic impact upon your relationship with your spouse and then it redefines your relate necessarily redefines your relationship with your your kids. I mean, I read a quote by CS Lewis where he said the hour that they need me.
No longer should be our greatest reward and you know there's a sense for where were building for this day and that this is a wonderful thing for parent to achieve.
But we we look at it and we get this.
We look at like a funeral. We feel like it's a death but it's it's really this incredible victory to be able to deliver somebody into relative independence and for them to be able to kind of render life as an adult in a way that is moving stepping toward God in ways and stepping towards maturity in ways that it can be celebrated and I and I think we found out. Maybe I should say I've discovered couple things. One, when the kids left like Bob and I said I was really excited. We all said I was like wow this is better than I thought but here's what I didn't anticipate.
I thought we'd have more time you like think we've all said you walk into an empty house is not commotion it feel that in some ways you you miss that like wow used to be. But there's another part like this is awesome. I got in the kitchen and get some ligand laid out I can take a nap and here's what I didn't anticipate this free time. I'm going to have. I'm going to celebrate know what I did is I dialed up more ministry started doing more things didn't even realize it. Were eating out more than were eating at home because were out doing things so we get busier in the absence of the kids not being there. Not sorta saying let's cherish some rest together and when we can get a buddy like you have really honest you said to me several times this year.
I feel like were business partners, and that was never something I wanted but it's like it would drive in hard ministry.
She's beside me. That's a beautiful thing but were business partners so that made me realize as a husband and I'm sure it's same for aunt but it was I need to pursue her romantically as an empty Nestor.
Now it's like that doesn't go away, but I've drifted into a dad.
She's a mom now. The kids are gone secularly were husband-and-wife, we need to just date but kiss hold each other down saying that had drifted away, partly because of me and just drive in a noun driving even harder because I can and I think a lot of couples prior experience that in some way with his ministry or their job or whatever. You just start doing a lot of things together, but you're not in love again. Yeah, the guys in ministry are particularly vulnerable to it because there's a way that that ministry encroaches on life and conversation it seems justifiable to the couple counsel (as a I UW the way that failed to share with you out of my weakness came alive, have had this happen many times were date nights of been swallowed up and we don't even realize it, but we have these people we love these people. We both know these people so to talk about these people or ourselves in relationship to these people or the church that we love the ministry that we love it just all seems to be in play and you realize that you know if you had another kind of job it would be apparent that we probably shouldn't be going there because it's just gonna feel like work with ministry at doesn't ever really feel like work. It feels like life and so that's something we have to have in front of us and I think there might be. You tell me what are your other defining moments was when dreams disappoint you. Sometimes these two sorta combine is like now an empty Nestor and I'm sort of disappointed where I thought I'd be aware thought our marriage. B is a true there's a vision. People carry for what marriage will be like when the kids are gone or in old age that evaporates through the rigor and work of raising the kids and are not even aware that it's gone and that's of the kids end up becoming the glue and so they don't even realize they're not living out of a vision for the future.
Just managing to present and so as a result than the kids leave and again the unit these things surface and they realize oh my goodness. The dream that I had about who we were going to be what we were going to be the life we were going to be sharing. It's not only not there but I don't see it ever being able to come about and how do we reestablish that dream.
How do we dream again with our spouse. Yeah, I think we have to evaluate whether the dream was a, you know, a legitimate dream. Was it a dream that is I have to see her fantasy because a lot of times it's not informed by reality informed by age it's like you know what it wanted friends I had not long going on some sitting in Starbucks and depth disguise talking. I think he's talking to a guy that is his pastor and I I I was at ease dropping.
The guy was talking loud enough for all of Starbucks to hear him basically telling this guy, this other guys counseling him that he can't believe his wife won't have sex with them every day and he can't understand how he how how this could be the arrangement and he feels like he should have justifiable reasons to divorce her for not having sex every day.
I'm sitting then I'm thinking I mean the guys probably 70 some years old and I'm thinking yet. Isn't this the way that it is we have these expectations.
This dream for what it's supposed to be like an old age and mannequin drive us to the point were even talking about separating because it's this principle that we have to uphold you and your book in an interesting way. I don't know that I've ever read a marriage book that ends with reflections on short story from a Russian author but talk about the story and about why you brought this in as kind of the conclusion of the book. I still do you to the final chapter is on the death of Ivan Ilyich which is a short story by Leo Tolstoy and the theme of the chapter is how grace is greater then the time in the moments we waste. Ivan Ilyich is a fascinating character. The Tolstoy created.
I mean he is a he he kind of represents the. The morally shallow person.
He's a a government worker which is nothing to do with him being celibate is the way Tolstoy portrays the government worker kind of dutiful, somewhat intelligent, but he he self obsessed.
He is the consummate composer and always positioning himself, not according to inner convictions, but according to the environment. According to people that are around them so he lives for the praise of other people and probably most apparent in the character development is he lives. This unexamined life and so Ilyich is not developed as somebody who is evil he he emerges from the pages that somebody was ambivalent and that is directed towards his marriage. So he's has this wife and he lives. This distracted wasted life where he's ambivalent toward his marriage distracted about his marriage, and overall just passive. It's kind of like comes at you as an inconsequential life is a one day Ivan detects a pain in his side and because he self obsessive and totally almost narcissistic. The pain is never diagnosed you never even know whether it's a legitimate pain, but he begins to die because he's imagining this pain that is so significant that he it basically creates the reality that he fears and so with the dying comes this terror of the realization that he has wasted his marriage that he has wasted his life and then right before his death.
There is a burst of light in a burst of truth and again you have to get to just appreciate Tolstoy's writing and how he creates his character re-creates this deathbed conversion. It's just phenomenal writing.
So he's he's converted then he dies the point that I I, plotted that though, is that is that here you have this life that from an earthly standpoint. Seems like it's totally been wasted a marriage that seems like it's been totally wasted and yet there is grace there is a power that's beautiful that breaks in that is capable of of snatching somebody from the fires of hell, even at death so it's you know it's the thief on the cross. It's the worker on the 11th hour who gets paid the same amount as the ones who who started the day and I think that the thinking believer knows that we've all wasted. You know I I know I've wasted time. There's things of wasted opportunities. A waste of my marriage and and if your unit you can honestly assess yourself. It's not like Ivan, is this unusual character.
You know were all Ivan in some way, but the good news is the grace is big enough and powerful enough to meet us in our waste and redeem us. Nonetheless, I think all of us as husbands and wives, moms and dads look back on our marriage whether we been married for five years or 50 years. We look back and go without regrets.
There things we do differently if we could do it again. I wish we hadn't done that.
I wish we'd known better here and there and this chapter reminds me that God is in the midst of all of that, providentially, and even our mistakes and our failures. It's never too late. That's right, we can turn it but we can look back on that and say yes we made mistakes, but don't let that define you.
I'm thinking of the scene in the movie Schindler's list, where Oscar Schindler is confronted with the idea that he could've done more, and as he's starting to break down and I could save more people and somebody comes along sentiments as you did so much and we can look back and go III wish I had done this, but God is at work in the midst of all of it for his purposes and for his glory and we can we can do as the apostle Paul said looking at his own life and say forgetting what lies behind the press on. From this point and live my life with fresh resolve for the purposes of God. This is been so good to talk about this and so helpful and I do hope a lot of our listers will get your book. I still do because I think they will find it as so many here at family life. I found it to be a refreshing fresh look at marriage from different perspective than a lot of books we've read.
Thank you for writing this and thanks for being here. Well, I'm honored to be wanted to enjoy these conversations, thanks a lot for the invitation Dave Harvey's book is called. I still do growing closer and stronger through life's defining moments. This is certainly been a season of defining moments. I think for all of us.
The book is available to order email@example.com or you can call to order one 800 FL today again the website is family life today.com you can also order by calling 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F as in family L as in life and in the word today what we been talking about this week about being isolated in marriage to Dave Harvey called it emotional estrangement. David Robinson present a family life is here with us, you and Meg have had seasons like this in your marriage right, absolutely. I'm thinking of one of our more recent situations where we word drifting apart not messily because of sin, but because of just being at different places and and having to address in our lives and it was just a few months ago where I was waking up at 3 AM and thinking about things with ministry and work in some decisions that were going to affect a lot of people and then I would lean over and go hey Maggio you wake she would go yeah I'm awake and want to thinking about and she would go into talking about kids and some of the things they were processing in life and things that were keeping her up and and then I remember the distinct moment that we finally found space to talk about it and she just said, you know, I know were both going through a really stressful time and I don't understand why it's never our kids who are waking up in the middle of the night and certainly it was a wake-up call.
If a comment that I needed to hear them, let alone you all on top of that, the internal dialogue and and you're the president of family life and let Hadley process there but her being honest made us pause. It is posteriorly enough to get emotionally in it together. It didn't lead to any quick fixes and didn't take away any of the stressful situations we were walking through, but it did lead to deeper levels of understanding and knowing and of caring for one another and being in it together. As you said emotional estrangement is not what God desires and if were willing to reflect the pause to talk we can go home and do that right now.
Whatever's, drifting us apart, even the small things it leads to an understanding of one another and God will meet us in that honest place and lead us toward unity and oneness and are our hope, our prayer everyday here in family life.
Today's the conversations you hear will help you in the stressful seasons of life being more prepared for them be more ready to engage with one another and if that's been the case for you as a regular listener to this program. Can we ask you to invest in the ongoing work of this ministry so that we can continue to help tens of thousands of couples every day that's what you're investing in your investing in the marriages and the families of men and women all around the world who are seeking to anchor their family in Christ. You can donate to support family life today firstname.lastname@example.org or call one 800 FL today to make a donation. As you might imagine, this is a particularly challenging time for our ministry as it is for a lot of ministries.
So if you can be generous in your support today. Just know that is so appreciated were so grateful for your partnership with us and we hope you can join us back tomorrow.
We can hear from a couple who has been through a challenging season. Marriage and family, very unexpected challenges hear from Chris and Mary Herndon tomorrow. I hope you can tune in for that think our engineer today. Caitlin, along with our entire on behalf of our hosts Dave and Ann Wilson been missing you back tomorrow for another edition.
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