I remember the day I held our firstborn in my arms, and suddenly our lives were changed forever. We weren't really sure we even knew what to do with this new blessing. But like all parents, we learned. In fun, I remember calculating the year of his high school graduation. At that time, 1999 sounded eons away. But then--we blinked--and it was here. We blinked again…and our middle son left in 2002. One more blink…and our daughter left in 2006. 

And as quickly as we became new parents, we became empty-nesters, and suddenly our lives were changed again. And again, we weren't really sure we even knew what to do with this new blessing.

It's very easy as parents to become so involved in the lives and activities of our kids, combined with careers and other obligations, that we neglect to nurture our marriage. Then when the children leave the nest, we hardly know how to function without the clamor and commotion to which we'd grown so accustomed.

Relational separation and isolation do not happen overnight. Neither does reconciliation, nor restoration, but take heart—it can and will happen. My husband and I are living proof.

God had lovingly revealed to me, a couple years before the exodus of our last child, what lay ahead for my husband and me. I could see how we had grown apart. Between the kids, his job, and the difficult years during my illness, life had taken its toll on our marriage.

I shared with my husband of our need to prepare for our daughter’s departure, to draw closer to God and to one another on every level—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

It was time to redirect our focus; time to focus more upon the needs of one another. It was time to tend to those areas we allowed to let slide under the blanket of busyness of those seemingly ceaseless school activities and doctor visits.

I cannot say everything went according to the plan I had in my head. I tend to have it all worked out, only to have God rewrite those areas that were more about my comfort than God’s heart…or my husband’s heart.

Ours has not been the perfect example of a great marriage. But our marriage is a great example of a perfect God who even through our imperfections, has created something beautiful.

If you find yourself like we did, and you’re already nearing that time of departure for your children, recognize now the need to tenderly care for the marriage. Pray! Seek The Lord for what He would have you do. Ask Him to help you develop your own ways to refresh and renew those areas that have either grown stale or perhaps deteriorated altogether over the years.

If you are a young married couple with small children, I encourage you to please start young! Nurture your marriage as you nurture your children. Spend time alone together. Take long walks…have long talks about how you see your marriage five, ten, twenty, forty years from now. all happens in a BLINK!