It is all too easy to forget to prepare your relationship for the empty nest.
After all, you are busy focusing on your child leaving the house. You have a lot to do to make that happen. Additionally, you want to spend as much time with your child as you can before they’re gone.
You might think that you can focus on your relationship after your child leaves. While that may be true, the transition will be smoother if you and your partner have prepared together.
Failure to prepare often leads to stress in the empty nest. In contrast, preparing can set the foundation for this to be a wonderful time in your relationship.
1. Discuss Dreams and Expectations
You may have a certain idea of what your relationship will look like after the kids are out of the house. However, have you discussed this idea with your partner? Do you know if they have the same idea?
Take a moment to discuss what you want for your time together.
Discuss such things as:
- What mealtimes will look like
- Going on vacations or trips together
- How much time will be spent at home
- What to do with the kids’ bedrooms
- Activities to do separately or together
Think about the small details of daily life. Also, make big plans for the future. Enjoy dreaming together.
2. Pay Attention to Communication
Take the time to really notice how the two of you communicate.
You may find that your children have been a buffer in many of your conversations. This will change once they are out of the house.
It is worth it to strengthen your communication skills before you have an empty nest. Think about common arguments, and then come up with new solutions for resolving them.
Look at your patterns of communication. See if you have some bad habits that could be worked on. Identify your communication strengths and focus on them.
3. Share Feelings about the Empty Nest
You may each feel differently about the empty nest. One of you may be relieved to have space and freedom. Conversely, the other may fear loneliness about the children leaving.
Remember, you don’t have to have the same feelings to be able to support one another.
Work on having open conversations about your individual experiences. Listen to one another and validate your partner’s feelings. Share your own fears and emotions without blaming your partner.
Prepare your relationship for the empty nest by supporting one another in this unique experience.
4. Start Something New Together
It is helpful to have routines during any period of transition. The empty nest is a big transition. Therefore, it is helpful if you have established new routines before the children have even left the house.
Keep in mind, your activity should be:
- A daily or weekly routine
- Something you and your spouse do together
- New, you’ve never done together before
- Something you do without the children
- Enjoyable for both of you
You might start taking a weekly dance class together. Alternatively, you could join other couples for happy hour. Another option would be to sit in the park and read together.
No matter what you choose, find an activity that excites both of you.
5. Build Outside Interests
One thing that you don’t want to happen is for your relationship to become your entire life.
Yes, the empty nest is a great time to focus on your relationship. However, you can’t focus on it to the exclusion of everything else.
Make sure that you also take this time to build up your friendships, activities, and community involvement.
If you have spent a lot of time focusing on your children, you might need help to prepare your relationship for the empty nest.
Please visit my couples counseling page to learn more about how I can help prepare your relationship for the transition into the empty nest stage.