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.
7 thoughts on “7 Ways to Build Happiness in the Empty Nest”
Hi Suzanne! Congratulations on your 32 years of happiness. Thom and I have been together 40 years this years and I so agree that those years with your best friend just get better and better. All of the things that you suggest are very important and sure to help any relationship as well. Happy Valentine’s Day to you both. ~Kathy
Thank you Kathy – Congratulations on 40! The years do seem to get better and better don’t they?
Just stumbled onto your blog while looking for some positive and constructive things to read on the internet! It looks great and I am looking forward to going into the archives to read previous posts. I am almost an empty nester: my three oldest are all away at college but my youngest son has an intellectual disability and will probably always live with us. It’s great though because he is physically healthy, such good company and a great buddy for my husband and me. Still, our house feels very empty and we can go off on adventures the three of us. It’s a good life!
Welcome Ruth! I am so glad that you found us! It sounds like your partial empty nest is running smoothly! I hope you have lots of fun adventures ahead. Thanks again for writing. Suzanne
Rule number one for empty nesters is stay busy. Empty nest syndrome can overwhelm you and seem to take over your life if you let it. Therefore, it is important to move on as quickly as possible to avoid dwelling on the situation. Getting out of the house can help take your mind off being an empty nester. Going out, especially at dinnertime or times when you are most likely to think about your child, will help avoid being overcome by empty nest syndrome. Having friends or other family members over more often can help fill the void left by the son or daughter who has flown the coop. Realizing you are an empty nester might be the perfect excuse to take up that hobby you’ve been meaning to try. Ballroom dancing can help with this transition. It will help couples maintain their health and fill their minds with a positive and fun experience as they reconnect. Mom and dad knowing some new dance moves could also surprise the children when they visit.
Now I am stalking your blog. Ahhh…. timely post! xo laura in CO
I promise you will grow to love the Empty Nest, but it takes time.