Don’t get too excited, no sex secrets here today, just a little honest talk about relationships and marriage and a few suggestions for how to build happiness in the Empty Nest. It is Valentine week after all!
The kids have grown up, moved out and are away at school. Most likely they only come home occasionally and that means much more privacy in the Empty Nest. I can remember the lack of privacy when Nick was in high school and I would have to wear a bra under my pajamas if the teenage boys were coming over. I know TMI, but we just never knew who and how many were arriving at 11:00 pm at night. True privacy was non-existent back then!
What do you do for fun?
Do you have a regular “date night”? Do you plan fun couples outings and adventures? If you answered no to either of these questions, you need a pep talk. We are in the prime of our lives and we can go out and do anything we set our minds to. No longer tethered to school events, homework, sports practice and the kids’ long list of activities, we can plan our own fun!
Craig and I have been married for 32 years and many of our friends have been married for about the same length of time. These happy statistics are heartwarming and inspiring. I will also add that the couples that are doing things together are the ones that are the happiest! It keeps you working together, instead of separately.
What makes a marriage successful? Two years ago, I wrote 30 Years and Still Smiling where I offered four fairly simple suggestions to help keep a marriage strong and I still stand by those suggestions. These ideas are applicable to any type of marriage, no matter how long you have been married.
Four simple suggestions ~
1. Unselfishness is sexy – If we spend time putting our spouse first, there is no room for error. What an amazing feeling when someone else puts your needs before theirs. It is the ultimate compliment and validation of your successful partnership.
2. Indulge each others interests– Craig LOVES baseball and music. I became a knowledgeable baseball fan and learned about all of the music he is so crazy about! He indulges my passion for foodie adventures,fashion, fitness and photography. His interest for all of my endeavors is limitless. However, we are more than just supportive, we participate in each others activities as well.
3. Patience – Life is so full of ups and downs and every family can have so many challenges to deal with. A family member’s illness, financial issues, the list can be lengthy. By approaching each issue with patience, irrational behavior goes out the window and the end result will be more successful.
4. Friendship -Within our marriage is a 30 year friendship. Haven’t we always heard how people describe their spouse as their “best friend”. It seems cliché, but it is so true! I would rather spend time with him than any other person on the planet. If you asked Craig, he would say the same thing and if I discover something new or travel to a new place, it would never be the same without him right there with me.
A few additional ways to build happiness in the Empty Nest …
Surprise them – Pick an activity that they like to do and plan for it
Give them time – Schedule time to focus just on your partner
Write them a note – Tell them how much you appreciate everything they do each day
Exercise together – This is self-explanatory… Get out and move!
Take a class together – Learn something new together (cooking, photography, glass blowing…)
Give them an unexpected kiss and an I love you – It will always make anyone smile
Be happy – Happiness is contagious. If you are happy, or at least willing to act like you are, the feeling spreads.