Facing the “Empty Nest”
A marriage, a family has its stages. So you have lived through the highs and lows of marriage and parenting. You rejoiced at the news of each new addition to the family. You have struggled through sleepless nights caring for your young children. You survived the terrible twos and the teenage years. You wiped away tears of pride as you watched your children grow and move through the next phases of their lives – graduation, getting a job, getting married.
And the whirlwind of activities suddenly quiets down. The chicks have flown the coop – the nest you have lovingly built is now empty. After all the frenzy of activity, you now find yourself alone with your spouse. This “new-found freedom and independence” you once longed for suddenly becomes a not-so- attractive prospect. When you let your identity and purpose be defined by your children and you suddenly “lose” them to adulthood, this may require a lot of adjustment on you and your spouse’s part.
With a little help from couples counseling in Provo, as well as your proactive moves towards dealing with the empty nest syndrome, you can make the transition easier. Here are some ways for you to deal with the empty nest syndrome:
– Acknowledge that you need time to grieve. There will be feelings of loss or sadness at the knowledge that you can no longer peep into their bedrooms and tuck them into bed, or have petty arguments about their wardrobe choice. Naturally, you will be missing your kids. Allow yourself the time and the chance to grieve.
– Line up activities for you and your spouse. Prepare for the things you want to do now that you have more time for yourselves. Think of activities you want to indulge in individually and as a couple. This is a perfect opportunity for you and your spouse to rediscover yourselves and your relationship.
– Get a little help from friends. Chances are, you also will have friends who are facing the same predicament. Get a support network; you don’t have to go at it alone. But take note that this is not a time to look towards your children as your support network. Remember that they, too, are facing a major phase in their lives. Aside from friends, you can also turn to a Utah family counselor for some advice and tools to cope.
– Rediscover your marriage and your spouse. The empty nest is one of the reasons for divorce, especially when a couple has drifted apart and the only bond that had held them together is the children. A couple may discover that they are disconnected with each other and may need some marriage counseling Utah.
– Remind yourself that you are still your children’s parent. Whether your child is 4 or 44, you will still be “mom” or “dad”. Although the way you take care of them will be different, you can still find opportunities to provide the support that your children need. You can commit to keep in touch, to make regular calls and visits while giving your children the space they also need to grow
When professional counseling is needed
There will also be times when the empty nest results in feelings of overwhelming sadness or grief. This may indicate that you are becoming depressed. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of depression. Aside from feelings of sadness that often overpower you and your ability to function normally, depression is marked by changes in sleeping patterns (oversleeping or having difficulty sleeping), changes in appetite and loss of motivation or interest. Feel free to seek counseling.
If you are living in Provo, Utah and are considering getting counseling, feel free to call Dr. Triston Morgan. Dr. Morgan is a licensed marriage and family counselor and has provided helpful therapy for struggling individuals, couples and families.