As I researched this topic I found articles and websites that call it Empty Nest "Syndrome." Now we are pathologizing a natural transition? Let's not. Is it normal that we have a huge adjustment when our teen leaves home? Absolutely. Is it normal that moms and dads react differently? Absolutely.
I don't know many adults that relish change. I know many people who think about change -- immediately followed by fear of the unknown. And usually, until the pain of a certain situation becomes greater than the fear of change, most adults leave things as they are.
However, our kids' growing up and leaving the nest is a healthy developmental step -- for all of us. That doesn't mean we are without feelings and reactions to it. Our job as parents is to prepare our children to leave us and spread their wings.
So how can you prepare for this transition, which in many ways is out of your control? The good news is that parents who spend quality time with each other are the couples who will be happier with an empty nest. This means stress-free time, in which you don't talk about your kids.
Here are a few things to contemplate:
What is the current state of your relationship?
How would you like your relationship to be?
What would you see, hear or feel to know you are loved, heard, and cared for?
What would it mean to you to have your relationship as you imagine?
Is your spouse attuned to you?
Does your spouse have your back, no matter what?
When you need comfort, do you seek it from your spouse?
Do you seek sex from your spouse?
Have you created a home that is a haven from which you gather strength for the rest of your day?
From my experience, couples feel that much in their relationship is good; they wish for a few tweaks in a couple of areas. Does this sound like your experience? We are allowed to ask for change that helps our marriage, despite the myth otherwise.
No matter where you are together right now, here is the best possible news: our brains can change throughout our entire life. That means we can feel, think, and behave differently. Whether we have been taught the skills and tools to do so is another question entirely.
I will write more on the empty nest. I've given you a lot to think about . . .