Sadly, empty nest syndrome symptoms affect not only individuals but marriages too. In this blog, I will address what is the effect of empty nest syndrome in marriage and how to become closer. It’s a serious issue as research has linked empty nest syndrome and affairs. Don’t presume your husband or wife will be ok and your marriage will get stronger, it takes action for that.
When your children were young and chaotic with lots of birthday parties and activities to do each weekend, perhaps you dreamt of the days when they’d be older and not so much work. Perhaps you dreamt about sleeping full nights without having to tend to children or being able to sleep in on Saturdays. Perhaps you wished for the sulky teenage years to be over and life to be drama free, thinking about all the things you could finally do for yourself. Hopeful that when the free time came you would be able to relax and enjoy the freedom to choose how to run your day.
The problem with this kind of thinking though is that most people don’t anticipate the impact on the marriage when the children move out and the house is back to just the two of you.
Most couples tend to their children’s needs above all else and perhaps needing to work extra in order to give their children the best in life. What happens is that parents get so busy they spend less time as a couple and more time just getting everything done.
By the time the kids are out the house, both partners may either stop being busy and feel an empty void or continue to be busy and feel lonely because they miss the affection and attention they gave to and received from the children. Feeling lost and low after children leave is known as empty nest syndrome.
Transitioning to an empty nest is often harder than most parents realise. This is not only because it is an incredibly big change to get used to after so long but also because empty nest syndrome affects a marriage. For example, the silence in the home may be unbearable and the distance between a couple maybe more obvious. If one in the marriage was doing a lot more of the caregiving than the other, they may feel lost, not knowing who they are or what they want to do next or what makes them happy anymore.
Living without a purpose is horrible and it’s the first thing I focus on with individuals. We also explore together their passions, interests, what they value most in life and what they want for their future. Sometimes its’s to start a business, or find a job they love, for others it’s about charity work and giving back, some men and women want to learn a new skill or take on a personal challenge. What the couple desire and decide to do with their life next must be address for the difficult empty nest syndrome symptoms to subside.
As a consistent low mood in one or both parties can lead to taking out frustrations out on one another or simply avoiding each other. This causes more heartache and pain, leading to a further breakdown in connection.
Sometimes the empty nest syndrome can magnify problems that couples already have and with no children to hide behind couples can’t escape. I have men and women come to me questioning if they want to stay married anymore, some state they have waited it out for the children and want their own change, to be selfish (as they call it) and live for them.
Often husband’s and wife’s underestimate the grief an empty nest can bring. Many unfortunately get depressed and become stuck in depression as they hold on to it as it is numbing their pain.
It is not doom and gloom for all couples though, some marriages thrive after the children leave home, as there is more time and space to give each other attention, appreciation and affection. The difference is using the emotional pain to grow together rather than apart. Emotionally support one another, investing time and energy to organise and do fun new things.
I also get empty nesters to share their dreams and plans for the future. This is one of my favourite things to do, to not let an empty nest affect a marriage alignment and going back to basics is key. This is where couple recreate a whole new relationship.
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