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The Nest Is Empty and So Are We: Returning to Life as a Couple Once the Children Move On (Part 2)

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In Part 1 of this article, we discussed how to prepare for life as a couple after children while the children are still at home.

This week I will focus on some ideas for the couple as the children are leaving and after they have left. For those of you getting ready to experience this transition or currently struggling with it, I hope to provide a bit of comfort and solutions for you in this challenging time.

After the Children Have Gone

The boxes and suitcases have made their way to the truck. The front door closes behind your child for the last time in awhile. You turn to your partner and think…

“Now what?”

Even if you have kept a good sense of both the couple and yourself, your child has been an integral part of your life and your world for longer than you can remember.

So begins the process of rediscovery. Asking, “Who am I now? Who are we now?”

Breaking the Habit

They say that one of the hardest things about quitting smoking is breaking the routine. There is a habit formed as you’re used to having a cigarette before work, on cigarette breaks, at lunch, after work, after dinner, etc.

When the “usual” hour arrives, you feel antsy and empty, unsure what replaces that activity.

Our children, of course, are not a “bad habit”. But the need for replacing the routine around them, once they’ve gone, is very similar. There is no need to make breakfast for them. No morning discussion. No need to drive them to their usual commitments or end the evening with discussing their day.

Suddenly, you have a lot more free time to spend with your spouse. But how do you spend it?

You may just be spending it driving them crazy… (and I only half joke).

Let’s Be Us, Again

Finding quality ways to spend time with your partner can seem like a real challenge, when starting this fresh phase of life.

Here are some ideas for rekindling the romance:

  • Spend time reminiscing about why and how you got together to begin with.
  • Set up coffee, breakfast, lunch and dinner dates.
  • Go to or pick-up movies you may each enjoy.
  • Plan a trip together. Plan several trips together.
  • Choose some home-improvement projects to work on together: painting, spring-cleaning or reorganizing the home for the two of you.
  • Take a class together or join a gym.
  • Make a gratitude journal, each of you. Spend time thinking about and sharing positive thoughts from your time together.

This is also a time to recognize that each of you may be grieving. You’re not needed in the same way by your children, anymore, and this can be difficult. You’re each struggling to redefine who you are, now. Be there to both support and empathize with the feelings each of you have.

Need help?

Should you and your partner need additional help with grief, conflict, separation, communication or anxiety issues, we at Stenzel Clinical Services are here and prepared to help. Contact Us today to learn more about our clinicians, inquire about our services or to schedule an appointment. We are willing and confident we can help, so contact us now.