5 Ways to Get Ready for the Empty Nest. With Charts.
October 5, 2012

One of the things I’m proudest of is the fact that Jim and I will celebrate 26 years of marriage next month. No small feat to find someone who will put up with me for that long.

We have learned a lesson or two in the process, so I thought I’d share a few.

First, you must understand that we are two people who could not be more different. He is an Excel ninja; spreadsheets make me cry. And not in the good way. When we did our premarital counseling, they gave us a personality test. I was terrified. Knowing what the results would be I was afraid they would tell us, “Whatever you do, do not get married.”

The results of the personality test are summarized in the chart below.

Despite my trepidation, the counselor actually told us we were perfectly matched. He explained that we would provide balance to one another.

And we have. I’m the one with 10,000-foot dreams and visions, with no clue how to make them happen. Jim is the guy who loves intricate charts and putting together complicated things. He actually reads those directions that come in the package. I find them boring and unnecessary. This is why I help open the box, leave the room, come back when he’s done and say, “Oh, that looks wonderful!” See how that works?

One year later, we returned and took the personality test again. Here are the results of the follow-up test.

Each of us had grown toward the middle. The goodness of marriage is that it causes you to stretch and grow in ways you wouldn’t otherwise.

Here are my five tips for a wonderful, long-lasting marriage ways to avoid driving one another insane:

  1. Don’t expect your partner to think like you do. It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing. It’s impossible and it annoys the pig.
  2. Try to stretch. I’ve learned to be a bit more practical and he’s learned to let go and dream a little. Sometimes.
  3. Honor one another’s strengths. I used to do the bills, which is stupid. I’m terrible at that sort of thing. Now he does the bills and I find fun things for us to do so that we will have more bills.
  4. Find common interests. I’m smart. I got him hooked on Cardinal baseball. Enough said.
  5. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s a cliche for a reason. Ask yourself, “How much will this matter in five years?” Because chances are it won’t and five years go by much more quickly than you think.

Right after “I do” is when you start preparing for the empty nest. Practice these things consistently and, after you’ve raised the kids and they’ve got their own lives, you’ll have a great time together.


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