Now that the kids are gone and you and your mate only have each other to focus on in the house, are you feeling like two strangers? Has your connection been only through your children and their activities and, now that they are gone, you don’t know what to do with your time or each other? Since 1990, the divorce rate among couples aged 55-64 has more than doubled, according to recent data.
How to Re-Connect
If you and your mate have become empty nesters, or will soon, here are some proven suggestions to try to help you reconnect in your relationship.
Improve Communication. Make an intentional effort to improve communication in your marriage. At every stage of a relationship, communication is important, but it is even more critical during the empty-nester years. If you feel that you are mis-firing in your communication, seek help. Attend a marriage seminar or retreat, schedule an appointment with a relationship coach or counselor.
Practice Good Self Care. Change is stressful and can result in insomnia, weight gain, depression, insomnia, etc. A good diet combined with exercise and regular health checkups is important. Get some rest! You may need to go to bed earlier and get more sleep. Personal counseling, prayer and meditation, inspirational books or blogs – all can help you take care of your body mind and spirit.
Accept the Changes. As with any change, there is a certain amount of grief that accompanies the transition from a busy, noisy household to a quiet and sedate one. There is the loss of a lifestyle that you may have loved and enjoyed. Things will never be the same again. Work through your grief. Express your gratitude for the past and accept that you are in a new chapter. It won’t be the same, but it can be full and rich and productive.
Remember Together. To help you move forward into your new chapter, revisit the past. Go back in time to your wedding and look at pictures/videos of your life from then until now. Share with your mate what you were feeling and reminisce about the special moments that you have shared and express your gratitude for the life that you have had together until now. Express your commitment to love one another and to face the future together.
Make a Shared Bucket List. Your priorities and dreams have no doubt changed through the years and so have your partner’s. Make an individual bucket list and share it with your partner and then make a bucket list of things that you would like to do together in the next 3-5 years.
Create New Rituals or Routines. Creating new ritual or routines can help you to move into your new way of living. Instead of eating around the kitchen table where the whole family ate, for instance, eat meals at the dining table or in an intimate setting with a small table with just the two of you. Now that there are no school activities to attend, make Friday night a date night and go to the theatre or concerts or …. Use your imagination.
Pray Together. If you are comfortable, pray out loud for each other. If not, hold hands and pray silently. When you are finished, squeeze your mate’s hand so that they will know that you are done.
Get Involved Socially. Volunteer together for a worthy cause like Habitat for Humanity or a church mission trip. Form or join a home group centered around common interests like cooking, movies, spiritual growth, dancing or adjusting to being empty-nesters!
Be Intentional About Your Sex Life. Our bodies change and our sexual desires and passion can change through the years as well. Now that you have the freedom to leave the bedroom door open or try different rooms and run the house in your underwear, you may find that you don’t have the desire. Sexual intimacy can become challenging, but it is important for your relationship and connection. Back to proper self- care, visit with your physician if you have a low libido or other sexual concerns. Hormones can be adjusted for both men and women with good results. Sometimes counseling can also be beneficial. And remember, sexual expression can take many forms, so be creative and intentional. A healthy sex life can result in lower blood pressure and heart attack risks as well as an overall sense of well-being and connection.
Plan a Vision Getaway. Go away for a weekend. Talk about the good parts of your relationship and be honest about the areas that need work. Let go of past hurts and disappointments. Forgive one another. Make the commitment to work toward making your marriage the very best it can be now. Set goals that you want to accomplish in the next 3-5 years. Pay off the mortgage? Buy a vacation home? Trips that you want to take?
Do Something New. Take a class together to learn a new skill or hobby. Take golf lessons, a cooking class, dance lessons or art lessons, for example. You might want to get bicycles and join a cycling group. Just learn or do something new to create a new shared experience that is a first for you both.
Seek Help If Needed. If your efforts to connect aren’t working, seek help. There may be unresolved issues that have been pushed to the back burner for years because of the busyness of making a living and raising a family. It’s time now to heal and grow so that your marriage doesn’t become a statistic. It make have taken years for you to reach this point, so don’t expect everything to be fixed in a few days or weeks. Sign up for a marriage seminar or counseling to get what you need. Be proactive and don’t give up! The best years of your marriage can be ahead of you if you will invest the time and energy in it to create a mutually satisfying relationship!