When the children leave home, many couples find that they need to adjust to a different lifestyle and to find new ways to connect with each other.
It can also be an unsettling time emotionally. You may find yourself feeling low, sad that the children are no longer around, and missing their company and the role that you had as a parent.
It can also be unnerving to suddenly find yourselves alone together as a couple after years of having the children present. You may find that you struggle to know what to do with yourself or even to know what to say to each other now that it’s just the two of you.
The challenge of the ‘empty nest’ period of a marriage will be greater for some than for others, but following some of the important principles below will be a real help.
While it can be helpful to have individual interests or hobbies, it’s vital that you spend time together as a couple. It’s hard to connect with each other if one of you spends all your spare time at the golf course and the other at the gym. Spending time with each other, even if it’s just to go for a walk or have a meal, will make all the difference to the quality of your relationship. Consider taking up a new hobby together. Whether it’s dance classes, DIY or Spanish lessons, doing something new will be a great way to spend time together as well as a new focus for your conversation.
Be open with each other and talk about how you feel about your current circumstances. It’s OK to say that you miss the children or that you feel a bit lost now that they’ve left. Make plans together and talk about the things you’d like to do now that you have the opportunity. Try to be patient with one another as you adjust individually and as a couple, and recognise that it might take a while to establish a new routine.
Make the most of having the house to yourselves and set time aside for sex and intimacy. Rekindle the romance of your early relationship by taking baths together, lighting candles, or cuddling without the risk of a sarcastic comment from one of your offspring. And enjoy the fact that you don’t have to worry about whether the door has been left open!
Be sure to make time for fun. Explore whether you still like doing the things you enjoyed when you first met, as well as discovering new activities. Play games together, go camping, do crazy golf or plan exciting holidays abroad. Be adventurous with your ideas, and make time to laugh, be silly and enjoy one another’s company.
While the feeling of the ‘empty nest’ can be a challenging time for couples, it also gives us the chance to really invest in our relationship, rediscover one another and create new and happy memories together.