Milestones of marriage and kids graduating from high school would seem to elicit great celebrations, but after a few conversations at graduation parties, I wasn’t celebrating as much as praying. When our youngest graduated from high school my hubby and I had been married over 26 years. Other parents with their youngest child graduating from high school had celebrated at least 20 years of marriage.

In our 26-plus years, my husband’s job has taken him away from home February through October. He is not always able to attend family functions and celebrations except for the big ones like graduations. He was able to be home for two nights of our baby’s graduation, what a blessing for him to be home. He attended parties with us as a family on Thursday and our son’s party on Friday.

P1060196As we left the first party we walked hand in hand alone. “I just had a shocking conversation,” he started.

“Me too,” I followed. He squeezed my hand. We both knew our conversations were the same. “We’re ok, right?” I asked. He stopped and pulled me into a hug.

The conversations we had at the party were the same. The husband asked my hubby if he was sticking around for more of the marriage crap and the wife asked me if we were staying together. They both said, “I don’t know her/him anymore. It’s not going to work.” My heart was breaking. Their marriage was breaking. A family was crumbling.

Not the last conversation of the weekend I had with couples who were ready to call it quits sent me into prayer mode. So many families falling apart when their children were leaving the nest, the nest built to nurture and love.

Years before we saw our demise: a tug away from one another, the ‘hard’ part of marriage, the gradual trot toward divorce. It begins with an accusation, “I don’t know you anymore,” and retorts with, “You don’t understand me.” The hurtful words pour out or no words at all. You begin to spend more time apart because the time together is too hurtful. The happy memories linger even though you don’t want to remember them.

We saw the red flags them earlier in our marriage. Without confronting them early on the issues grew. We separated. Divorce was talked about. Faced with a failed marriage because we couldn’t or wouldn’t do the hard work our relationship needed. You don’t have to be in the empty nest for red flags to fly. They begin much earlier.

We had to ask a question. Do the hard work or take the easy out? The answer came with time. We chose to work.

Working on marriage takes more than a list of to do’s or a list of don’ts. It takes focusing on something larger and more powerful -But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.- Matthew 6-33than yourselves. It takes God. Placing God at the center of your relationship builds a foundation. You may not think you can do it, but know God can! Begin today. Place God at the center of your marriage, of your relationship, of your friendship. Let Him guide you through the hard work.

Do you feel a red flag flying, not seen by your spouse? Are you ready to do the hard work instead of taking the easy out? What can I pray for you?

If you will, please pray for my hubby and me as we are in the empty nest season. Pray we find our way through the awkward moments of not having the kids to focus on. Pray, as we pray, for God to lead us in His Will not our own.