Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.”
—Genesis 4:25

Every successful marriage involves continuing flexibility. You need to prepare for and adapt to the many changes that will come in your marriage. One family expert says there are five progressive cycles in a marriage: (1) family founding, from wedding until the first child is born, (2) childbearing, from the birth of the first child until the first child enters school, (3) child rearing, from the first child entering school until that child leaves home, (4) child launching, from the time the first child leaves until the last child leaves, and (5) empty nest, when parents are alone until the death of one of the mates.

Each of these changes presents unique challenges, especially that last stage, when your children are gone. Many people think they don’t have to work on their marriage after their kids are grown. Yet the empty nest stage is the time couples are most prone to divorce. Now that the children are gone, there is very little for you two to communicate about. As your differences become evident, it’s easy to leave. A wise couple will recognize that there will be many changes in the marriage relationship and be prepared for them.

Consider all the changes that Adam and Eve went through. First, Adam was a single man. He had a career. Then he meets his wife, Eve, and they have children. Then Adam loses his job, so to speak, and gets transferred out of the Garden. And if that’s not stressful enough, one of his children murders another child. Their family was going through continuous change.

What did all those changes do to Adam and Eve’s relationship? Let’s look at what happened after the death of their child, Abel. Genesis 4:25 says, “Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, ‘God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.’”

Problems in life, including the death of a child, can either drive husbands and wives apart or they can drive us toward each other. A wise married couple prepares for the many changes in life. Don’t ever think, “Once we get past this stage, then everything is going to be easy.” It doesn’t work that way. The marriage relationship has challenges at every stage. Be prepared for and adapt to those changes.

***
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Marriage: Vacate or Renovate?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.