If you’ve got kids then your life is probably busy, stressful and hectic. Between work, housework, homework and all the other activities everyone in the family is involved with, it’s a wonder we make it through the week. And this can go on for years.
But one day it will all stop.
The kids will be gone, the house will be quiet and you’ll find yourself not knowing what to do. And though some of you may welcome the opportunity to do absolutely nothing for a change, it’s not all greener grass on that side of the pasture.
For one, doing nothing can get boring very quick.
But it goes far beyond that. Many couples find they quickly start to experience Empty Nest Syndrome – feelings of depressions and emptiness once the responsibilities of raising kids dissipate. Empty Nest Syndrome is a real thing and it can have quite negative effects on one’s marriage.
On the Gottman Institute Blog, they share the story of Lisa and Roger – a couple who quickly found out after the kids left home that their marriage just wasn’t the same.
Lisa was first to realize something was wrong. She felt lonely with the kids gone. When she and Roger were home together, he’d collapse on the couch to watch TV. She’d talk on the phone to one of the kids, shedding tears every time she said goodbye. When not on the phone, she sat with her laptop filling orders for her Mary Kay clients, or browsing Facebook.
This wasn’t the life after kids they had dreamed about.
Lisa missed the emotional connection they had when they married 23 years earlier.
Lisa’s co-worker explained that empty nest syndrome is common among middle-age parents. It’s characterized by feelings of sadness and loss. Parents become vulnerable to depression, identity crisis, and marital dissatisfaction.
It’s a common thing for many couples to experience something similar in their marriages after the kids move away from home.
But it’s not something that has to linger on until it’s too late to change.
Marriage counseling can help by giving you the insight, resources and tools you need to make a lasting change. You can learn to rekindle the sparks that made your marriage work so well.
You need to revive your dreams of what your marriage was “supposed” to be like by finding shared meaning and connection with each other.
Empty Nest Syndrome is a real thing, but it doesn’t have to be something that leads to an unsatisfying marriage.