When your kids leave home to spread their wings, it’s exciting!
It’s what you raised them to do but also a letdown because you won’t get to see them as much and they no longer need you as much, which can leave you feeling empty.
If co-parenting was a big part of the glue that kept your marriage together, then the new quiet in the house can feel sad, especially if your marriage is struggling.
Over a third of all divorces in America are among those aged 55+, the U.S. Census found in 2021. That’s over double any other age group!
But the retirement community 55 Places found that 63% of empty nester couples actually grow closer after the kids move out.
On top of that, 58 percent said they become more intimate with their partner.
So how do you become one of the empty nesters who feel closer and have even more intimacy than when the kids were underfoot?
Here are three ways, which you can use before, during or after your nest is empty:
1. Celebrate Your Accomplishment
I hear about marriages where the only reason they’re still together is because of the kids. They have an agreement to go their separate ways once the kids are out of the house.
If you have had such an agreement, it’s because you’ve both been unhappy, feeling unloved and lonely for a long time. Maybe the kids were a buffer from that pain.
Or maybe the kids themselves were part of the conflict, like differences on how to raise them, speak to them, discipline them.
One way to change the narrative is to focus on and acknowledge out loud something positive that you did together: successfully raised a human.
Even if he wasn’t a perfect dad and the kids aren’t perfect either, your joint blood, sweat and tears are worth celebrating. It’s kind of a big deal—really big!
It may feel like a stretch to acknowledge your husband for his part of that accomplishment, but if you’re willing to make a short list of the things that you appreciate about him as a dad, sharing your gratitude for him can go a long way toward reminding you both why you’re still together.
2. Create Your Vision
What do you imagine for yourself in the post-childrearing phase of your life?
Will you downsize or rearrange your home?
Now that you have more privacy, will you institute naked Tuesdays?
Will you travel, paint or blog? Will you and your husband host the holiday get-togethers and summer barbecues for the whole family?
The reason this is so important to dream about, besides that it’s so much fun, is that it’s also a powerful way to create the future you envision.
Honing in on your desires and expressing them in a way that inspires gives your husband a north star to follow.
That’s true even if you feel the only thing holding your marriage together is this co-parenting gig you’ve had for the last couple of decades.
If it’s hard to imagine that kind of future for your marriage, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It just means you need more support to help you find your way there.
3. Find Your New Joy
Change is so uncomfortable, and sending your youngsters into the world is one heck of a big change. You may feel triumphant about having successfully launched your mini me’s but weepy about letting them go.
If there’s a hole in your life after being discharged from the job of taking care of your kids, this might be the time to make or update your frivolous self-care list.
What would feel fun? What would delight you? What would make you smile and laugh?
The more you tune into what brings you joy and give that to yourself, the more attractive you become to everyone, including your husband. Including yourself.
Plus, the more you’ll have joy. Investing in making your marriage last and thrive means you’ll also have someone to share that joy with.
Now that you know the three secrets to increase the intimacy in an empty nest, which will you experiment with first?