A few weekends ago, I found myself alone in the woods with a man. I know that sounds scary, and it absolutely could have been, so it is a good thing I like this man, as I am married to him. Now that our twins are grown, they drive themselves places and they both have jobs. This creates a lot of time for my husband, Brandon, and I to practice retirement, as we like to call it.

On Saturday mornings, the house is so quiet, you can hear a pin drop. This is when we sit in our recliners, or on the porch, drinking coffee and reading our Bibles, or the news–me with a newspaper in hand, rocking it “old school”, and him with digital news. After this, we cook breakfast together, do some yard work, and if the trails are dry enough, we go mountain biking.

It was after one such mountain bike ride that we came out of the woods and the parking lot was vacant. Like, completely empty—no cars, no horse trailers, none of the bustle that had been there just an hour before. This was when I realized that I was completely alone in the woods with Brandon, for there was no one else around. This was also the moment when I laughed to myself and thought, “It’s a really good thing I like this guy!”

Then my cracking-myself-up-session came to an abrupt halt when I thought, “Oh goodness, I hope he still likes me as much as I like him!“. There’s that 2-way street thing coming into play.

All these thoughts in my head made me remember just how important it is for married couples to find something to do together that is out of the regular day-to-day stuff. Finding some kind of common ground that can last when the house gets quiet, or when no one must leave for work each day, is crucial.

Brandon did a ton of work and heaped on lots of patience when he brought me and the kids into his mountain bike interest, among other things. (There are so many other things I wrote a whole post on them here: Thank You for the Invitation ) For me, I had to learn there are other ways to do a puzzle when Brandon entered my interest of putting together jigsaw puzzles, and did not start with the border. Who doesn’t start with the border?! That seemed so crazy to me! Puzzling is a great hobby for us during the dead cold of winter when we are not as motivated to get on the bikes.

The vacant parking lot after our bike ride and realizing we were all alone out on the trails that day made me so grateful for the common-based experiences we do together. We have all heard about, and maybe you know someone, or maybe you are someone who, after the kids left, realize that you are not okay with the quietness, and mostly not okay with this potential stranger you have been doing “kid life” with, or “career life” with, and at the end of day, there is nothing else in common but the four walls around you and the roof over your head. If this is the case, it is never too late to find another common ground besides the house or the kids, especially with the Lord’s help, as he is an expert at redemption.

God values marriages and wants them to thrive. So much so, that he placed specifics about marriage in his holy word. For me, success in my marriage means that Christ must remain at the center. The Bible is the place where I can go when I need advice or a reminder when things in life get hard. In the very beginning of the Bible, God knew it was not good for man to be alone, so he created a helper for him (Gen. 2:18). I am reminded that as a helper to Brandon, aligning myself with him and respecting his leadership in our home is in the same scripture passage that urges husbands to love their wives, and not to be harsh with them (Col. 3:18). Relationships are not always easy. This is why I am so thankful to have a helper in our marriage in Jesus, for it is ONLY by his grace that our marriage can reflect his love for us.

Brandon and I celebrated 22 years of marriage last weekend, praise be to the Lord! I am so thankful for our relationship and that the Lord picked us for each other. I can only hope that we have many more mountain bike trails to conquer and puzzles to complete!