One of the real challenges of a long marriage is figuring out how to deal with children. From the beginning, it is clear that your children are a major part of your life, but it is not as clear how much they change everything. Parents go through phases and it seems that we are now in a very child-centered phase, where the needs of the parents are almost entirely consumed by meeting whatever needs we think the children may have. Pediatricians and friends tell us all the different things we need to do "for our children," and sometimes it seems that our relationship with our spouse disappears in the midst of trying to handle everything for our children. 

But children grow up and, eventually, move away. What will you do then? Too often, older couples find themselves strangers when they suddenly realize that the house is empty. We use the term "empty nest syndrome" to describe people who really struggle with the absence of children. 

We forget that children are not forever. They grow up and leave us back where we started, with each other. If we ignore our wife or husband during those years with children, how will we travel with them all the years that remain. If our children are grown and gone by the time we are 60, what do we do with the 20 or more years remaining to us? 

Traveling without children is part of our life. There was a time before children when your husband was all you had and you were happy. Will you be happy when, again, he is your daily companion and the one with whom you travel? Or, in the absence of children, will the two of you lose all connection? 

It is surprising how many divorces we see in older couples, who have allowed their relationship to die. 

Keep your mind focused on your husband, not just your children. They are part of your life, but he is your life. You and he are one in Christ. Protect that relationship at all times.

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