It’s almost September- and that means it’s time for back to school. When the children return to the structure of classes, many marriages and relationships start to flounder. It’s easy in the summertime to be focused on the family activities, vacations and long afternoons. Relationship problems take a back seat so that the family can enjoy the summer. What happens to these issues when the school bell rings?
We hear the term “Empty Nest” at this time of year, when the children go back to school or off to college and the parents are left with nothing to focus on but their own relationship issues. After being child focused for so long, many partners wonder how they will successfully move through this transition, building a better relationship or repairing a fair one. The good news is that this can be a really invigorating time for the relationship, with a new focus on the actually being a couple.
Moving through the transitions from family life with children back to a couple is a normal phase of relationships. But the person sleeping next to you may now seem like a total stranger, after years of being family focused. How do you reconnect with a partner when the house is quiet and the evenings lonely? Here are some tips to keep the transition an easy one.
1. Start dreaming- you and your partner had dreams before the kids were born, when was the last time you revisited those dreams? What a perfect opportunity to begin conversing- and who knows where that will lead.
2. Laugh- tell each other a good joke; reminisce about some funny personal times you had, get silly together. Laughter has been shown to be an extremely effective coping skill when faced with times of distress, so use it to the fullest.
3. Create some new memories, or rejuvenate some old ones. Go out to an indie flick, take a Latin dance class and listen to some music, hike in the foothills and bring a picnic lunch. You don’t have to worry anymore about child care, babysitters, curfews or privacy, so take advantage of it.
4. Most importantly, share your awareness and feelings with your partner. The thoughts and emotions around having a newly empty nest affect both men and women, so chances are that your partner is feeling the same way that you do. Discussing it will be another opening for communication, and good communication is the life blood of any long term relationship.
Whether you fall into, charge ahead or slowly drift into the next phase of your relationship, keep it partner focused instead of activity focused. Having a perspective of “independence within unity” is the best way to keep the relationship strong and vibrant.