Wednesday, 24 August 2016

RECONNECTING IN THE EMPTY NEST

when the fledglings fly it's time to rekindle your relationship with your spouse

GOODBYE TO THE FLEDGLINGS

My last post was all about preparing our kids and ourselves for the time when they flew the coop and disappeared off into the sunset. For us there was a degree of relief and satisfaction to see them successfully launch themselves and to watch them thriving in the city and at university. They so easily settled into a completely new lifestyle and found their way around their new world with remarkable ease.

TRAVEL

The next step for us was finding our feet again as a couple. We'd have loved to have been one of those couples who threw in their jobs and traveled the world, but we didn't have oodles of spare cash to spend ticking off all those fantastic vacations that were on our bucket list. We did have enough to take a few small trips to different spots in Australia we'd been meaning to visit. It was nice to go away with only the two of us to worry about and no children to have to entertain or to take into consideration as far as planning "interesting" activities goes.

MOVING & LOSING TOUCH

Life continued on at home fairly uneventfully until we decided that living on a couple of acres in the middle of a semi-rural bush area wasn't really what we wanted any more with no kids around and all the chores still left to do. So before we knew it, after 20+ years of life surrounded by trees, we sold up and moved into a more suburban situation. Not completely surrounded by houses, but still much more "civilized". It was a great distraction and it allowed us to clean up and clear out - no sacred shrines to our children where their rooms were still exactly as they left them.

Starting afresh from scratch meant we had a house that was really still a bit too big for us, but was the perfect size for when the kids came home to visit. What it also meant was we each had lots of space to do our own thing. That was great until things went pear shaped with our marriage and relationship and we were questioning what we had in common and why we were still married. This apparently happens to a lot of empty nesters - you start creating a life without kids, but forget to forge deeper connections with the one person who has been with you throughout it all.

FINDING EACH OTHER AGAIN

Fortunately for us we found our way through and realized that we needed to actually be in the same space as each other more often. No point him being in his office at one end of the house while I was down in another room somewhere else. Now we spend our evenings together in the same room - we might both be on our laptops or phones or reading a book, but we are together. We chat intermittently, we show each other funny things we've seen online, we share a coffee and a snack, we have all the little interactions that are part of being a couple. We'd almost forgotten how to do that in the process of moving kids out and moving ourselves on to new things.


Your heart and my heart are very, very old friends. - Hafiz

RECONNECTING

Assuming that you'll automatically re-connect with your spouse when the kids go is great, but it can take a bit of effort. So often we take our relationship for granted. We'd been married for 30 years, and that's a long time in today's transient world. I thought we were fine, I thought we had it all worked out, I took what I had for an assumed entitlement - and almost lost the whole thing. Having your husband tell you he wasn't sure he wanted to be married any more is a very sobering experience.

I love that we've found ourselves again, I love that the empty nest gives us freedom to do what we like when we like. I love that we aren't responsible for anyone but ourselves, we don't even have a dog to worry about any more - just two fairly indolent cats who are happy for us to come and go (as long as they get fed!) Life together in the empty nest is really great - it's a lot less stressful, there are so many less worries and concerns. It's pretty much smooth sailing now that we've worked out the kinks and made each other a priority. It's a very pleasant place to be at this stage of life.

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when the fledglings fly it's time to rekindle your relationship with your spouse

24 comments:

  1. Ive been thinking so so so much about the FINDING EACH OTHER AGAIN as I watch my parents grow old together so happily.
    Many days I fear it will not happen HERE BUT I know my own mother didnt think it could happen there either...

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    1. I think I was at the other end of the spectrum Carla - I thought we were connected and took it for granted. What I should have appreciated is that it is an ongoing exercise to be interested and interesting to your partner.

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  2. Since I don't have kids, I don't have the nest. But I can see how these are all good ideas.
    Carol
    http://carolcassara.com/look-inside/

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    1. I think it is something we all need to remind ourselves of when we are in long term relationships Carol - it is so important to keep the connection alive and flourishing and not let it dwindle to nothing.

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  3. This is inspirational! I love that you love it, and each other.

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    1. Thanks so much Anna - married life is definitely what you make it - the more you invest in each other, the more you see the benefits (and feel the love!)

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  4. You are so fortunate! Our empty nesting was interrupted by Randy's health, but we do what we can together. He encourages me to go solo when he can't go, which is awesome.

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    1. I've read enough about the huge hurdles he's overcome to be totally amazed at what he's achieved healthwise Tam - and it's lovely that he is confident enough in your relationship to give you freedom when you need it.

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  5. I think reconnecting is definitely a process that should be planned and worked on, often it doesn't always come naturally. I'm so glad you made it!

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    1. Thanks Doreen - I'm glad we got there too and you are so right that it's a process - one we should never take for granted. :)

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  6. The whole empty nest thing is so real, I saw my parents go through similar situation as you describe. My husband and I have been working on this the last few years, (all of our kids are still at home) the preparing ourselves for the empty nest and making sure we still take time for us as a couple, its hard to accept it is ok to do things without the kids and not feel guilty. He was also concerned about me loosing who I was without my kids, being everything I did I did for them, so he has been helping me find out who I am as a person not just as a mom.

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    1. What a great guy you're married to Angela! He is so right about finding your own identity separate to being a mum - we can get so immersed in our kids' lives that it's hard when they disappear off into their new worlds and leave us empty handed. I'm so glad you're preparing for it and I'm sure you'll be fine when you get there :)

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  7. I'm so pleased to hear you successfully reconnected. Wondering whether to stay married or not is a scary spot to be. Been there. Thank you for sharing your story. It helps to know how others navigated, helps to know others felt adrift when the kids left, too, and survived as a couple. Cheers to all the GOOD ahead!

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    1. Thanks so much Lisa - I've had a few friends recount similar journeys to ours - being open enough to admit it happened often lets others feel free to share where they've been too. It's great that we're all doing so well!

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  8. I'm so glad you were able to work things out! Hubster and I are definitely enjoying more together time now we have a half-empty nest ;-)

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    1. It just gets better and better - especially if you still like each other and want to spend more time together. It's finding the balance that makes all the difference :)

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  9. Hi Leanne, I'm a fellow empty nester. My husband and I have been married almost 33 years. I have seen so many marriages end in divorce in my lifetime that I never thought it could happen to, that I guess I've learned that you can't ever take it for granted. I'm so glad you and your husband have found each other again. Our kids grow up and have their own families and lives, so we really need to work on nurturing the one relationship that matters the most. And it is work, isn't it? We love each other, but it takes a conscience effort of putting the other one first and working on or marriage. Thank you for sharing with honesty about your relationship!

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    1. It is something you have to work on - you have a really good foundation, but it you don't keep building on it then you wake up and wonder why you're still together. I love that you have almost 33 years together - we're at 33 yrs and it's nice to have survived the 'why?' stage and to have moved forward. Thanks for stopping by x

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  10. We realised when our children were still quite young, that they would not always be around and that we had to learn to talk about more things than just about the kids. The nest has been empty for a long time now, there were still a couple of rough spots to get through. For now it just seems to get better all the time, for which we are most thankful for.

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    1. Being prepared for the departure of the kids makes the transition so much easier Kathleen - but I guess there is always the occasional rough spot because none of us are perfect :)

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  11. You've written a wonderful post here Leanne. So true. I can imagine that after all those years together with the kids there's a bit of self and couple rediscovery to be done.

    Sally @ Life Loving
    #LifeLovingLinkie

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    1. It can be a wake up call Sally but also a wonderful opportunity to rediscover and reconnect.

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  12. Such a great post! My husband and I, while not exactly empty nesters yet, are enjoying the time we have together now that our son is working. Connection starts at the beginning of the marriage and is a constant work in progress, so that when you are finally empty nesters you're not trying to figure out who you're actually married to.

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    1. I loved your post so much that you're my choice for this week's Featured Blogger. Please come back sometime between Sunday and Thursday evenings and get your Featured Blogger badge.

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