|Our first empty nest trip together|
2015 was a big year for us as it was the year our son graduated from high school and moved on to college leaving us as empty nesters.
As the time approached my mind was filled with thoughts about how our life and potentially our relationship would change. Our only child household had in many ways been centered on the life of our son with activities and the joy of having his friends around.
There are a lot of marriages that are held together by having the child in the middle. That is a great danger if not handled with care which can lead to couples falling apart after the children have gone. On the other side, there are marriages that post children move into a new season that is full of richness and of new adventure together. It can be the beginning of the best of times together as a couple.
Six months into our empty nest life and our fear of the change has gradually abated. We have grown new relationship habits and continue to look forward to the future while not dwelling in the past. Life is indeed good and just getting better together all the time.
Here are some key tips that have made the transition work for us.
Have your own life
A lot of couples are so centered on their children that once they are gone they a left with no identity of their own. They have no friends or hobbies or activities that did not center around the child. Key here is to start the transition in the years prior to the child leaving by taking stock in your current life what considering what life will be like once the kids are gone. Trust me that this is not hard since the last couple of years of high school are a blur especially after the driver’s license.
This is a time so encourage the child to do more on their own so they can be prepared for life away from home. Everything from doing their laundry, having a part time job, cooking, budgeting and being away without your guidance is good. The bonus is that you can use this time as a couple to do more together and plan for your future.
This can be especially hard for us guys. Fellas you might find this hard to believe but your wife may not be feeling worse or better than you about the change. You will not know how she really feels unless you take some time to ask and just listen. The greatest gift you can give your wife during this transition is to just be present and allow her process her feelings about the change on her own schedule and in her own way. Asking and listening will ensure she knows you support and love her.
Have a plan
There is nothing more energizing than having a plan for the future. It is the best tool for forward motivation because life is way better when excited about something you are going to do or have in the future. If you have never sat down as a couple and created a written plan for your future now it the time to do it. We broke our plan into categories including places to go, things to do, stuff to buy and financing our future. Make sure to have short term as well as long term goals and things that are big dreams as well as things that are simple possibilities.
Get back to basics
Men this is a time for sure to take stock in yourself and your efforts in the relationship. Perhaps you have been a little lax with being a partner around the house. It might be time to pick up some more responsibility with things as simple as grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning.
Show your wife through your actions and words that you think she is more beautiful and more wonderful than even in the early days of your relationship. Make effort to praise her and to tell her how much you are looking forward to spending the rest of your life with her. It is okay if your life with kids made you strangers to each other. Perhaps it is just time to “date” again and experience the excitement of new beginnings with your spouse.
Yes the transition to the empty nest is a big change but with just a little work and a positive outlook it can be the start of your greatest season yet.