CoSozo Living

Midlife Renewal
  • Anahid Lisa Derbabian, MA, LLPC, is a Nationally-Certified Counselor, therapist, and life coach who...

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Sun, March 1, 2015
Rediscovering One Another As Empty-Nesters
Here you are, proud and loving parents of a child leaving the nest. As you encourage your child towards an exciting future, naturally you may begin to wonder with trepidation what awaits you at home. Do you worry about being met with a very quiet, still house without energy? Do you question your relationship with your spouse and whether it will sustain itself when the kids are away?
You may ponder, “Do we have anything in common anymore? Do I even know this person today? What will life be like with just the two of us? Will I feel comfortable without my children around? Who am I today?”
The truth is that you have many opportunities and blessings that await you. While your home environment has changed, your nest is not empty. It is simply as it was originally – the playground and resting space of you and your spouse. This is a beautiful time to create the space within your heart, mind, and spirit to allow the next phase of your life to emerge and take shape. You each can rediscover one another in very real ways and create an even stronger, more loving relationship.
Unknowingly, We May Have Placed Our Children First
Often, when I counsel couples and families, I recognize quickly when a family system is out of alignment. When one or both spouses are far more connected with their children than with each other, they may be honoring their children over their own relationship.
The foundation of the family begins with a strong union and loving connection between the parents. From there, as a united front with the energy of connection and a strong alliance, each parent can honor one another while individually and collectively guiding and raising their children.
Even if your children are no longer living at home, you can adjust the attention that you give to your spouse and how you communicate with him/her and with your children. Moving forward, you can create a far more loving and healthy family system.
It’s Never Too Late to Create a Deeper Connection
Whether or not you and your spouse maintained a strong marital connection through your child-raising years, you both have the opportunity to build your relationship today. As this empty-nester time may involve far fewer distractions, you have time and opportunity to connect and come together in very real ways.
While the term, “empty nest” easily can conjure up feelings of emptiness, sadness, endings, and a lack of excitement, I encourage you to instead envision far different images and feelings. Imagine the energy of rebirth, hope, a strong sense of self, a deep connection to your spouse, excitement, love, peace, joy, and new adventures.
Remove Buffers Between You Two
You may never have thought about it, or wanted to admit it, but over the years you and your spouse may have placed buffers between you. Those buffers may have been career, children, your extended family, friends, individual interests, or even health issues. Just know that this was the past, and you each have the power to change this dynamic, moment by moment.
To rediscover one another as empty nesters, begin to disallow any buffers, barriers, shields, safeguards, distractions, or defenses between you two. Return to the purity of the relationship you created many years ago. Reconnect in very real ways, and rediscover one another as you each are today.
You may initially feel vulnerable without these things and people between you, wondering if life with just the two of you will be enough… and whether you are enough. Let go of these fears, embrace yourself and your spouse in love, and realize that these are great starting points of discussion.
Recall What Brought You Together
Begin to recall the reasons why you fell in love with and married your spouse. Was it his charm? Was it her laughter? Now, you have depth and time between you that can deepen those reasons. Consider what you have grown to like and love about him/her through the years.
Granted, you may have experienced challenges together. This can be a good time to process those challenges. Can you each love each other through your imperfections? And are you both willing to heal from, release, and place the negativity of the past behind you and to create a present and future that bring you happiness?
You and your spouse have countless possibilities to get to know one another again, to discover who you each are, and to enjoy the blessings that await you each at this age and stage of your lives. Just take a deep breath, and take a forward step.
Time to Rediscover Yourselves
So easily, we can disconnect from ourselves when we juggle a busy life and focus on things and people outside of ourselves. In this new phase of your life, create opportunities to reconnect with and rediscover yourself.
To guide you through this rewarding journey, I invite you and your spouse to ask yourselves the following questions. Allow yourselves to connect deep inside for the answers:
  • Who am I today?
  • What inspires me? What am I passionate about?
  • What do I want more of in my life? What is missing?
  • What do I want to reduce or eliminate from my life?
  • Am I living authentically and with passion or just going through the motions?
  • What am I willing to do to create a happier me?
Indulge in the process of finding answers that help you both to reconnect with yourselves. In so doing, you will experience great peace, focus, forward movement, and rewards.
When we have been with someone for a long time, we may enter into a rhythm or pattern where we assume we know exactly who they are, what they think, want, and need, and how they feel. This may actually have occurred simultaneously between both of you, especially as you so often focused on the children and their lives and activities. As a result, you may have taken one another for granted and unknowingly stopped communicating with depth and sensitivity, avoided asking meaningful questions, and did not inquire about one another in real ways.
Thus, this is an opportunity to become far more sensitive toward your spouse as well as significantly more curious. Ask yourselves the following questions about your marriage:
  • Am I willing to share my evolving self with my spouse?
  • Will I let go of old, ineffective patterns of relating to my spouse and engage with openness and love?
  • Am I willing to let my spouse in?
  • What type of marriage do I seek?
  • What could I have done differently in my marriage?
  • What am I willing to do to build a strong and beautiful union?
Share Yourselves and Have Fun!
As you reconnect with, and rediscover yourselves, begin to share and process with one another your thoughts, feelings, disappointments, sadness, dreams, and desires. Connecting deeply with one another may have gotten lost in the day-to-day of raising your children. Yet, you have opportunities to revive those connections today and build on them in ever more fulfilling ways moving forward.
Create memorable moments together. Plan fun activities that call upon each other’s interests and passions. In these moments, laugh, hold hands, and learn new things about each another. In so doing, you will begin to develop a closer friendship, engage in each other’s life, support one another, and reestablish emotional and physical closeness.
Be spontaneous and relish together in unexpected experiences. Break up the monotony of daily life into remarkable moments. Be open to adventures together, and set your spirits free.
Allow yourselves to just be, and experience peace and tranquility with your spouse. We all need time alone, yet realize when you may be isolating from your spouse; in those moments, re-establish your connection.
Recognize that you can reawaken that inner excitement and adventure that you each felt in your younger years. Take pride in your significant life experiences and wisdom derived through the years. And bring it all together to pursue dreams that you can live out at this time of your life.
Begin to sense how you are feeling in this new chapter of your life. Before long, you may feel lighter, brighter, more self-connected, closer to your spouse, happier, and hopeful. In the midst of it all, you will transform from grieving an empty nest to celebrating an incredible relationship and life. Enjoy this time of rediscovery. I wish the best to you both.

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