A successful marriage requires two willing parties who both put in 100% each and every day. It’s not 50/50 as so many have said over the years. You have to both want it to make it work.

Staying together is easier when you have children to raise. The obligation of a family often comes before the priority of your own personal happiness and growth. Once the children leave the home, a married couple may be left wondering, “Where do we go from here?”.

No longer is there the hustle and bustle of bringing children to and from school and soccer practices and music lessons. The dinner table now only has two place settings instead of three or more and everything feels too quiet and empty.

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The feeling a husband and wife are left with after their children leave the home is often referred to as “Empty Nest Syndrome.” The baby birds have flown the nest and the mom and dad bird are left to their own devices for the first time in at least 18 years.

Instead of letting this pivotal moment in time send you into a state of depression and fear, look at this as a new beginning for your marriage. You and your spouse finally have time to do whatever you want together, whenever you want to.

That second honeymoon you’ve always talked about? Take it. That big home renovation you’ve been planning for the last decade? Do it. Those spontaneous, middle-of-the-day trips for ice cream? Go for it.

The thing is, now this life is about you and your spouse. It’s not that you’ve forgotten your children, but they are adults and can now fend for themselves. You’ve both completed the challenging task of raising them and now it’s time for you to enjoy each other.

This is a time of rediscovery for your marriage. Not only are your rediscovering each other, you’re also rediscovering who you are as individuals. It’s guaranteed that you’ve both done a lot of growing over the last nearly two decades (or longer if you have multiple children).

Learning how each of you have evolved as individuals can add a new excitement to your marriage. The spark in your marriage may have fizzled out a bit while you were raising kids, but now you have the opportunity to reignite it into a full blown flame.

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There are several ways to do this, one of which is dating your spouse again. With your newfound freedom also comes plenty of opportunity to go on adventures together. You may want to travel or take up a new hobby together. Finding a common interest that you both enjoy doing can draw you closer together and create a deeper connection.

Even if you don’t like the same things, don’t fret. Variety is the spice of life and opposites often attract because they challenge each other to become better individuals by opening up the other person’s eyes to a different way of seeing things.

Make time to celebrate the small and big moments in life. Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and other milestones should all be acknowledged. It also shouldn’t take a special occasion for you to express how much your spouse means to you. Writing them sweet little notes or bringing them home a little something special they may enjoy are all ways to show you care each and every day, even in the intimate moments.

Although your children have left the nest, you’ll always share that bond with your spouse having raised them together. Seize this opportunity to build on that bond and create a strong marriage that will last forever.

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