Keeping the spark bright in a marriage requires constant work. From a union between two people to a family life in the later years, couples may drift apart over the years due to changing areas of focus like children or career, or increasing commitment to fulfil the roles of parents, educators, breadwinners and homemakers.
As you approach the later years of marriage with your children all grown up and forming families of their own, it may be necessary to put in more time and effort to rejuvenate the spark in your marriage by adjusting to the absence of your children and to life with just you and your spouse again.
Start by re-connecting with each other again
At this new stage of life, it is important to re-define your goals and expectations for the relationship you have with each other, and learn to fall in love all over again. Some things you can do to re-connect with each other include:
- Commit to fall in love … again: When was the last time you had a date with your spouse? How about rekindling the feelings you had when you were dating? Why not visit places that you used to enjoy when you were younger and take time to enjoy each other's company?
Take time out to enjoy each other’s company. Discuss openly your feelings, the challenges that you are currently facing and your expectations of the future. Renew the agreement to support each other for better or for worse.
- Listen … and don’t criticise: Men and women often look at issues from different perspectives. During a disagreement, it is important to take time to be patient and listen to your spouse’s points of view and accept them with an open mind. Agree to disagree. It takes patience to foster effective and meaningful communication – doing so will strengthen the bond that you have.
- Be nice … don’t bear grudges: “But that happened so long ago!” This is a common phrase used in an argument when we are reminded of a mistake we did in the past.
Everyone makes mistakes in life. Instead of dwelling on these and the past, focus on each other’s strengths, resolve past hurts and move on to the future on a fresh note.
- Put the zest back: Growing older does not mean that passion has to take a back seat. Feel free to let go and have fun in each other’s company again like how you did when you were dating. Make dates with each other and learn to surprise each other all over again.
Why not hide a love note underneath the pillow, or surprise your spouse with a lovingly prepared breakfast served in bed. It’s all about putting the fun and excitement back into the relationship. Think creatively and enjoy the surprise and appreciation that your spouse expressed!
- Try something new or different: With the children leading their own lives and in your retirement years, you would have more time to pursue new activities. You could do simple things like take evening walks together, commit to learning a new hobby or start volunteering actively. If you are feeling more adventurous, try taking up salsa dancing and see your relationship groove to a new beat of revived intimacy and bonding.
- Enjoy a new relationship with your children: Learn to treat your children as adults who are mature enough to make their own decisions. Discuss with each other on how both of you would like to relate to your children as friends. Enjoy their company and the satisfaction of bringing them up successfully.
Starting a new journey
As the hustle and bustle of your career at work and your responsibilities as a parent ebbs, plan ahead to enjoy the next phase of your lives together. Embark on a new journey, fill it with exciting experiences and rediscover the fire in your relationship.
Working towards happiness together in your golden years is like dancing a waltz. It takes two people to put in effort to coordinate the necessary steps. Relighting that fire in your marriage may seem challenging at first, but as the connection develops and the feelings are rekindled, you will certainly find your efforts worthwhile.