At the young age of 48, I became an “empty-nester”. For 22+ years, I had children under my feet. And I loved every……well…..almost every minute of it! 😉
I had my first son in May, 1989, and my daughter in December, 1993, with two boys in between the two. Four children in four years was a little faster than I had planned, but I had to know that God knew what He was doing. However, it left me feeling quite overwhelmed at times.
The years came and they went, and with each passing year, my children grew. As the order of life has it, eventually, they grew up and moved away to begin their own lives.
Three have graduated college and my daughter is in her last year of study. I am very proud of all of them. Time does fly, whether or not you’re having fun!
When our last one left the house, I kind of thought my job was over. No longer was I on 24/7 call. No longer was I the one to make sure they were fed and had a clean pair of underwear. They were on their own. I considered myself to be somewhat free. Not free in the sense of not in a committed relationship, but free in a way that I could go out and re-discover who I was as Ann Corley…..not as Mom or as Momma Corley.
In my zest to capture life and run with it, I made a few mistakes. It caused some serious problems for my marriage that was never my intention.
Here are a few ideas that you might keep in mind when you and your spouse become empty-nesters.
1) Communicate Your Expectations
Each of you have your own idea as to what it will look like to have just the two of you in the house together, with no distraction. Maybe you want to become more social, going out to meet new people, but your spouse is perfectly content with a quieter existence. This could become a trigger of discontent in your marriage.
2) Have a Discussion Concerning Money
With the children out of the house, you may have a little extra spending money. Talk to your spouse about ideas of savings accounts, vacations and spending power! For me, as long as the kids were here, their needs came first. When they left, I felt like it was my turn and I began spending a little on myself. However, even just the little that I spent, it was a radical change and it began to cause my husband to question me and my intentions.
3) Plan Some New Activities for the Two of You
Having the children around the house provided a distraction from our relationship that we never recognized, until the distractions were gone.
Planning new activities to do that neither one of you had ever experienced puts a little spark back in the relationship. Sharing something new for both of you gives you something to talk about to the kids, and it makes you feel connected to one another.
4) Talk about the Past, But Don’t Get Stuck There
As we grow older, it is natural to begin to look at ages gone by rather than to look forward to the age to come. It’s wonderful to talk about the times spent together and reminisce about the joys shared long ago.
The concern is for one or the other to begin to reminisce on their personal past, the one that doesn’t include the spouse. Or for one spouse to fixate on better times during the marriage and wonder why they aren’t like that any more. These scenarios only serve to put distance between the two of you. Talk about the wonderful times spent together, but don’t ignore where you are now. Focus on making new memories.
5) Allow One Another the Space to Breathe
For myself, I felt like I had been holding my breath for 22+ years, so when my youngest was close to leaving, I began to run. I literally began to run and began losing weight. I, then, reconnected with old friends and began running with them. I began making plans and then telling my husband, instead of running plans by him….just out of respect. From my husband’s viewpoint, I was running away from him.
It really wasn’t that at all. I was simply learning to breathe again. After putting five people in front of me for so many years, there was a learning curve for me on how I related to the world and the world related to me. I was simply finding my way.
Finally, having caught my breath now, I don’t feel the need to run as much (although, I DO need to be out running again for weight control – HA). I still need room to grow and blossom as the person I am and not just as the mother of four children.
I am so grateful for my family. They are my greatest joys. I have been blessed with a husband that loves me, even when he doesn’t understand me.
Think about what you want life to look like when the children are gone from the house. Make sure you and your husband are on the same page. Otherwise, one of you may turn the page, and not find the other one there.
Good luck and thank you for reading. Please leave me a comment! I want to hear from you!