With high school graduations recently finished, several of my good guy friends are talking about how they’ll fare as empy nesters.
Their last or only child is headed off to college this fall and in many cases the kid is heavily focused this summer on leaving the home and excited about all the new friends and experiences that will undoubtedly follow.
So what about mom and dad? I wrote about this topic on this blog last summer, but it’s a topic worth revisiting. Bottom line, it’s a time to re-evaluate where one is in their life and the status of their marriage.
Those middle age guys who don’t recognize it’s a time for change do so at their own risk. The length of your marriage, while it may provide comfort, doesn’t ensure success after the kids leave.
Both partners are asking themselves and each other — “Is this is good as it gets?” Staying together for the kids sake no longer is an incentive to keep a tattered or lacking relationship intact.
A recent Wall Street Journal article on this topic “The Loneliness of the Empty Nest (When the children finally leave home, marriage gets better, right?” quoted national divorce statistics about this time of life –indicating that for many, empty nest syndrome definitely plays a part.
According to 2009 national statistics, one of four couples get divorced at age 50 or older.
The article states:
One of the biggest predictors of divorce is withdrawal. The article states that men often retreat into their hobbies, while the wives direct their focus on taking care of the kids, friendships with other women or care giving for an elderly parent (s).
“If you can’t pick up on those cues, then you might be one of those people who wakes up and finds that your partner is out the door, and it hits you like a ton of bricks,” the article said.
Complicating matters, the article continues, is that some long-term spouses get into a situation where they relate to each other primarily in their roles as mothers and fathers and not as romantic partners.
And over time, if the emotional connection has faded, chances are so has the sex.
But then the kid(s) are gone and now mom and dad have more time together and “this (emotional) connection can be awkward and difficult to reignite,” the article said.
Frankly, my wife and I embraced being empty nesters. It’s been a good thing.
One of the big reasons, I feel, is that we saw the warning signs of our withdrawal from each other before the kids left. We went to marriage counseling, a positive experience that resulted in a sincere commitment by both of us to our marriage and to each other’s needs.
Marriage counseling isn’t for everyone, but it sure helped us. I think one of the big reasons is that we both saw the need and that we didn’t wait until a crisis situation developed, such as an affair or one of us suddenly announcing that it was time for a divorce.
Our marriage counseling sessions provided a much-needed tune-up to our relationship.
The bottom line is the empty nest years are a golden opportunity to make needed changes to your personal and marital life. You can either embrace the need for change, or simply ignore it.
It’s up to you.