Is Your Relationship As Empty As Your Nest? 5 Steps to Reconnect
Most of the time, concerns about “empty nests” focus on the process of adult children leaving home. This, of course, is a major transition in a household. It requires time to adjust, process, and ultimately reconnect as more than parents.
What is it like to spend so much time alone together now?
You and your partner might be experiencing a host of unsettling feelings when you realize it’s been a long time since you thought of yourselves as a couple. In fact, sometimes the transition from full house to empty nest is best accomplished with the help of someone like me.
I will listen objectively to your concerns and needs. I’m here to help you set new goals and move forward authentically and intentionally. I can also help you develop tools that interrupt unproductive communication habits and replace them with genuine, healthy methods of connecting again. Together, we can ensure this period is one of perspective, rediscovery, and adventure.
Let’s begin with a few basics:
What is Empty Nest Syndrome?
- It most commonly occurs when adult children leave their childhood home
- It is not a clinical diagnosis
- Women are more likely to be impacted by it
- It can present with symptoms similar to grief or depression
Parents miss their children. That’s no surprise. But there’s another angle to consider. Mom and Dad are much more than just Mom and Dad. Like every married couple, they are an evolving unit. When the kids leave home, aging parents enter a whole new phase of their relationship.
There’s a Shift Going On
Back in 1990, less than 10 percent of those who got divorced were 50 or older. That number soared to over 25 percent by 2009. Today, people over 50 are two times more likely to divorce than they were in 1990. If you’re over 65, the numbers are even higher. Why?
- Women are now more likely to have their own source of income
- A greater awareness and openness about exploring our needs
- Less stigma connected to divorce
What Are Common Causes of Disconnect for Empty Nesters?
You’ve become more caretakers than lovers
Taking care of the kids (and possibly your own aging parents) is a full-time job. It’s not unusual for couples to become less affectionate and sexual. But once the kids leave, you no longer have the “too busy” excuse. How do you rekindle that flame?
Fewer kids and fewer hours = BIG changes
As the nest empties, you may also be moving into a place of semi-retirement. In other words, you’ll be spending way more one-on-one time with your spouse. You love each other, but here’s when you learn how you’ve both changed over the years.
Shifts in social circles
Your jobs and your children’s lives dramatically shape your social life. Now what?
No more distractions
Long-term differences or disagreements can be buried under the everyday life of parents. Are you ready to face these issues now?
5 Steps You and Your Partner Can Take to Reconnect in an Empty Nest
1. Reinvent your communication
It’s no longer about play dates or soccer practice. Find new ways to communicate. You did when you first met. And now, you have a lifetime of experience to call on.
2. Try new forms of socializing
Find new interests together. Make new friends. Exercise as a couple. Take trips. You have the chance to experience a second phase of “dating.” Make it count!
3. Set boundaries
No two people can go from super-busy to 24/7 companions. You need time for yourself. You also need to have your own friends and interests.
4. Prioritize intimacy
Yes, this can mean having more sex. But a big part of reconnecting in non-sexual touch. Holding hands, a gentle neck massage, cuddling up to watch a movie together. Rediscover and re-imagine.
5. Enjoy the freedom!
Remember when you’d complain about your hectic schedule? You miss your children, but you probably don’t miss their routines. Take advantage of this change and introduce some spontaneity.
There are empty nest patterns and trends. But obviously, each couple has their own unique dynamics and issues. This is why I believe couples counseling can be the right choice at this stage in your marriage. You have a foundation and a long time connection. I can help you build on that foundation in new and exciting ways!