This past weekend, my husband and I found ourselves alone, with a quiet and empty house. Our daughter had gone on a 4 day school trip, leaving us with a void that we did not expect. When we originally found out about her trip, we had thought it would be fun to have the house to ourselves, but the reality was very different. The first evening we rattled around the house, uncomfortable with the solitude and lack of activity that normally would have been taken our focus. The house felt like it had a large black hole, that my husband and I couldn’t seem to fill. After the first evening finally passed, we realized that we had an entire weekend looming ahead. I remember thinking to myself “If this is what empty nesting is all about, we’re in trouble.”
How do you reconnect when all of a sudden, it’s just the two of you?
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 focused on your partner. My husband and I ended up doing several things we hadn’t done in years- going out for appetizers and listening to local music, catching a farmers market and enjoying some walks. Keeping your relationship strong and vibrant takes effort, even when you may not feel like it. Go out and make a plan today that you will look forward to and enjoy!
Kelly Chicas, 2011