We have entered the empty nest stage in our life. Our oldest daughter got married in 2015 and our youngest daughter moved out early in 2016. One of the first things that we noticed was that our house makes noises. These were previously masked by the sounds of our children. The sounds of silence can be eerie, at times, and it is perhaps the hardest aspect of empty nesting to get used to. But be encouraged, we are learning to spread our own wings and fly together.
When Mindy, our oldest, left home for good, we were not impacted to the same extent as when Kassondra, our youngest, moved out. Mindy worked us into the concept over time. She was in college and only came home 3 or 4 days per week, for a long time, before she left. We still had Kassondra at home and she spent most of her time commuting to work and school; but she still came home on a regular basis. There was no silence.
There are certainly differences in the way that Heather and I have handled this major event in our lives. I began to mentally prepared myself for this day months in advance. Kassondra was dropping hints, for at least 6 months, that she desired to move out on her own prior to finishing college. I began to force myself to stop wondering where she was all the time, what she was doing, and who she was with. She was 22 years old and mature enough to make decisions for herself. I just had to convince myself that she could and to let her go, when the time came.
Heather and I began talking about life after kids and what we should do. It is a noteworthy exercise to go through. Be prepared for that day to arrive! We decided that we would finish our education. I wanted to get an MBA (Master of Business Admin) and Heather wanted to get her MAC (Master of Accounting). We enrolled and started at Western Kentucky University in August 2015. This helped distract us from Mindy getting married and moving on. Converting Mindy’s old bedroom into Heather’s craft room, that she’s always wanted, also helped a little bit. But even then, when they were both gone, the silence was deafening.
The struggle is real. If you’re not prepared for it or if you have other relationship issue with your spouse, it can be overwhelming. Some marriages end in divorce when the kids leave home. The couple did not have plans for a life together and had become solely dependent on the children, compensating for their bad marriage.
Heather and I decided many years ago that we must continue to work on our relationship. It was important to us that we would not be two strangers living in the same house, after the kids left home. Therefore, it is important for every couple to focus on their marital relationship, to ensure that you do not forget why you fell in love with each other. Create regular opportunities for you and your spouse to connect with each other alone and intimately. This will add life to your marriage.
I have a saying; I do 100% of the things that I plan to do. There are those very rare “emergency” situations that alter plans but for the most part, I do the things that end up on my calendar. If your calendar is so full that you cannot take a couple of hours to spend with the person that you love most, then you have too much stuff on your calendar and you need to reevaluate your life.
We encourage you to talk to your spouse about life after kids. Perhaps more importantly than that, build opportunities into your relationship to enjoy each other. It is our hopes and prayers that you rekindle old flames of passion that have been smothered out by the ashes of life.
Tim & Heather