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Growing Old Together: Like a Beautiful Old Building

I wouldn’t trade our empty nest years for the relationship we had in our youth for anything.
By Barbara Rainey

Some time ago my husband, Dennis, and I went away to do some planning for the year. As empty nesters it seemed odd to leave our now-quiet home to go find a place of quiet. We actually contemplated for a short time not going away, but we both knew from experience that the quiet of our home would be easily interrupted by the telephone, the television, the laundry, the kitchen, and the Christmas decorations that had not been put away. (Without little people in my house who would play with, scatter and break our ornaments and garlands, the urgency to put them in the attic is not there. How nice to not have that pressure.)

We stayed in a bed and breakfast that was nice but not as comfortable as home. Is that a sign of getting old? Hmmmm … But we did find what we needed by getting away—time together without distractions to think and talk. And it was delightful.

I’ve decided this new season of life is better than the others. I would have never believed it possible. How could getting older and not having our kids around be a good thing? 

But it is wonderful in its own way, like a finely aged wine, or a beautiful old building full of character and charm and comfort. Our marriage is like that now, and I wouldn’t trade it for the relationship we had in our youth for anything. 

I remembered a quotation that weekend that I had not thought about in years. I found it when I was in college and copied it in my then-new Bible. It was a call to my heart that was lonely and wounded and afraid. It put into words the longing of my soul to be loved:

Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. —Dinah Craik

That is where we are in this season of life: experiencing the profound comfort of safety and peace in marriage. It is inexpressibly wonderful.

We are not perfect and we still have disagreements. There are still repairs to be made on this aging building, but the character and beauty designed by the master Architect are beginning to be seen more clearly as the new wears off and the glowing patina emerges. 

It takes time for the beauty of grace to emerge in a life and in a relationship. A solid foundation, a heaven-sent design, and a commitment to never quit building have made this a comfortable place to be in this season of life.


Copyright © 2009 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family. 

Next Steps

1. Read "Don’t Get Stuck in the Empty Nest" and other articles on this topic.

2. The kids are grown and gone. Now what? Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates talk to FamilyLife Today® listeners about the changing relationships a woman is likely to experience once she arrives at the empty nest. Listen to their suggestions for embracing this stage of life.

3. Read Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest by Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates.

Meet the Author: Barbara Rainey

Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to nineteen grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. She and her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, are co-founders of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is the author of Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember and When Christmas Came.  She speaks at FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences and is a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.  She and Dennis are the coauthors of several books, including Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, Starting Your Marriage Right, Moments Together for Couples, The New Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem, Parenting Today's Adolescent, Rekindling the Romance, and Moments with You. She co-authored A Mother's Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue and joined Dennis and their children Rebecca and Samuel on the book So You're About To Be A Teenager. Barbara has also co-authored Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest, with close friend Susan Yates, and A Symphony in the Dark, written with her daughter, Rebecca Rainey Mutz. And Barbara has written a series focusing on character traits for families, including the titles Growing Together in Gratitude, Growing Together in Courage, Growing Together in Forgiveness, and Growing Together in Truth.

Having faithfully served alongside Dennis for more than 30 years, both in ministry and at home, Barbara has recently launched a new endeavor called Ever Thine Home™.  This new line of products, including Christ centered ornaments for Christmas, teaching tools for Lent and Easter, and beautiful additions for your home for thanksgiving and year round makes it easy to express faith at home in a way that is both biblical and beautiful.  Her heart for Ever Thine Home is based on the familiar Old Testament instruction:

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:9, ESV)

You can read more about Barbara's work at

Find Barbara online on:
Twitter @BarbaraRainey and Facebook



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