Topic: Looking Forward to the Empty Nest
Tanner, 56, has one word to describe her experience of becoming
an empty nester: liberation.
was recently interviewed for an article in the September issue of
MORE magazine, the Canadian publication for women over forty. This
article shares some good news for parents anticipating the effects
of their children leaving home -- namely that their marriage may improve.
(See the article at: http://www.more.ca/relationships/married-life/enjoying-the-empty-nest/a/22726)
article sites a 2008 University of California study, which tracked
a group of women from their 40's through to their early 60's. It found
that the women's marital satisfaction increased as they got older,
particularly once their children left home. (I would suggest that
this bodes well for the satisfaction of their partners too!)
As the author Marcia Kaye points out, "The research didn't suggest that the women had been unhappy while the kids lived at home, nor did it say they became more satisfied with life in general after the kids moved out. They just became more satisfied with their marriages."
The upside of couples being "home alone"
myself an empty-nester-in-training. I have a 16 year old son in high
school and a 20 year old daughter, who has returned home temporarily
after moving out 2 years ago.
to the empty nest brings with it an appreciative poignancy for the
present. I know there is an end in sight to the back-packs dumped
by the front door, wet towels on the bathroom floor and big food bills.
The umpteen trips back and forth each week for sports practices and
games seem precious and time-limited. So I'm not wishing them away.
However it's comforting to know that once my kids are gone, the reduced stimulation from all their activities will allow for other possibilities for my husband and me.
This news also provides a refreshing alternative to the predictions that women in particular will experience sadness and even depression, with the loss of their parental role. While these intense feelings do occur for some women - and need to be taken very seriously if they persist in the form of chronic depression - this articles highlights a brighter side of the empty nest.
After speaking with a number of empty nest veterans, here's what I've concluded about WHY couples report an infusion of new life into their marriages:
life no longer revolves around the kids' needs and schedules, there
is more quality time and energy for the relationship. The reduction
in housework, laundry, shopping, cooking and chauffeuring frees up
both partners. Couple connection is bound to be enhanced with more
opportunity for leisurely conversations, shared activities and deeper
tend to behave more spontaneously when they aren’t concerned
about how much noise they make or who will see them. This can be revitalizing
for the romantic and sexual health of a marriage. Being well rested
doesn’t hurt either!
Enjoyment of a shared accomplishment
the launching of their children into the larger world, couples can
take great pride and satisfaction in having raised their children
to young adulthood. This shared accomplishment can be a source of
joy and celebration for the couple, adding to their sense of intimacy
Time and space for the emergence of new dreams and interests
New options become possible when children leave. Travel may be easier, there's more time for creative passions, new goals or aspirations may emerge that can now be acted on - such as going back to school, launching a new business, writing that novel or supporting a worthy cause. These new endeavours bring energy and excitement into the relationship.
Maturity and a sense of mortality fosters greater acceptance
who have successfully navigated child-rearing with their relationship
intact have grown in maturity – and may have arrived at a
new level of self-acceptance –- as well as acceptance of their
a twenty-something, mid-lifers know they won’t live forever.
If they have navigated health challenges, a couple knows that life
is precious and there are no guarantees. This can foster a deep
appreciation and gratitude for life – and for the one you
share it with.
Freedom from our biological imperative
With the end of the child-rearing years, there is the freedom to write a new chapter in the book of our lives. With increased longevity, many of us can look forward to many healthy, productive years after child-rearing.
is a time of great freedom of choice, as we re-create the lifestyle
that suits us as individuals and as a couple. If we can free ourselves
from “should’s” and confining assumptions, we
can embark on a new, exciting adventure together.
In the meantime, enjoy those kids while you have them.
are a precious, often challenging, time-limited gift. However when
the time comes to let them go, take comfort in the knowledge that
as they fly free, you and your spouse will too!
pro-active in anticipation of your empty nest. Talk with your partner
about how this transition may affect each of you. Make room for
each other’s feelings and emerging desires –- which
may differ. Begin to dream, imagine and discuss what this next phase
of life may hold for each of you – and for you as a couple.
you’re a single parent, talk to a trusted confidant about
your feelings as the empty nest approaches. The hole left by your
children’s departure may loom larger when you are on your
own. Make plans for how you will deal with that loss and how to
replace it with a positive vision for this next phase of your life.
or divorced? Interested in dating or having a relationship? Want
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Vollett BSW PCC is a Life and Relationship Coach, with over 20 years
of combined experience in counselling and coaching. She delights in
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