An Empty Nest: The Kids Are Gone. Now What?

Your youngest child just pulled out of the driveway, headed for college. You sit down for a cup of coffee and stare across the table at the stranger sitting in front of you. This stranger, of course, is your dear, sweet husband. Do you remember him? He is the man that years ago you vowed to love, honor, and cherish. He is also the man you began to neglect when the children came along. There just wasn’t enough time to cater to him while you were raising the children, cleaning the house, running the errands…….

What do you do now? You realize that you hardly know the man who is now your only roommate. How did this happen? When did things start going wrong?

Don’t let the above scenario happen to you. There are things you can do now, while your children are still young, to ensure that you still have a solid marriage once they are grown and gone.

When you were first married, your world revolved around each other. You did everything together. You learned to be best friends, lovers, and partners. Once you start bringing children into the family, the world you had built is turned upside down. You no longer have the freedom to do all of the spontaneous things you once enjoyed. Sacrifices have to be made. Your marriage does not have to be one of those sacrifices.

Before you start having children, you should sit down with your partner and discuss how the parenting and household duties should be shared. These issues will have to be re-evaluated and re-negotiated as the years go by. It is absolutely crucial that you make time to be alone with each other. You may have to be quite creative at times to be able to fit this into your schedule, but it really must be a priority. It has been said that the best gift you can give to your children is a loving relationship with your spouse.

Scheduling a regular “date night” is a good way to keep the lines of communication open between the two of you. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Go out for coffee and dessert, take a walk by the lake, anything that will allow you to focus on each other instead of the stresses of daily living. You can even trade babysitting days with another couple in order to avoid childcare expenses.

Another good way to keep the spark in your relationship is to make a game out of it. Plan one special thing each day to do for your spouse. Cook his favorite meal, massage his feet and back when he gets home from work, or put the kids to bed early and have a quiet candlelit dinner by the fireplace. Show him that you think he is just as attractive and just as interesting as he was when you first met.

By making your marriage a priority now, you will still be able to enjoy each other when it is just the two of you once again.

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