Parenting can be challenging. At some point, your job is done and your children have left to go out on their own. It’s then you may find the children, who have been the focus of your attention for so long, have taken your attention away from your partner. That can mean a lot of different things for the two of you, from getting comfortable with the quiet to learning how to talk to each other, rather than through the children and their activities, all over again.
The empty nest can be a challenge for a lot of reasons. Some couples have a hard time with the changes that their children leaving home bring. Some struggle with each other, especially when, without the distraction of children, the person they are living with is not whom they expected. Instead of this being a difficult time, it can be an opportunity for growth in your relationship, if you take a good look at the changes your empty nest has brought and figure out how to move forward.
Empty Nest Relationship: Things to Consider
When you’re learning to navigate the changes that come with an empty nest relationship, there are some things to consider. First, there are changing responsibilities in the relationship. With less time devoted to child-rearing, there is more time to devote to each other. Figuring out how to be partners again is going to be important. Another thing to consider is how you communicate with one another. If you’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the children and their needs, you may have lost some of the flow around communicating with one another one-on-one. You may also have to consider that you might have been leading somewhat separate lives for a time, how to negotiate that and come together as a couple once again.
An additional challenge of navigating an empty nest relationship is those moments when your children may return home for a time. Having spent your energy on re-establishing your relationship as a couple, having them return and disrupt your new rhythm can be just as stressful and disconcerting as having them leave in the first place. This experience can bring about another whole round of renegotiating relationships and roles in the family.
With all these changes and considerations, finding yourselves sort of back where you started can be uncomfortable. Meeting that discomfort and coming together as a couple will only make your relationship stronger, as well as help the two of you continue to develop as individuals. With a little patience and effort, you can nurture your relationship in a different way and it can thrive, as a result.
If you would like to find out more about how counseling can help you navigate life’s challenges, contact Pam here.