Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Our Empty Nest Test - Home Alone!

Liam and spent I this past holiday long weekend home alone and it was strange. For the first time since we became parents - almost 21 years ago - we had extended time together in our house without kids. Sure, we've taken romantic vacations and getaways. But never have we had this much time and privacy while hanging out in our own abode.

For long-time couples,
being home alone can be scary!
You'd think it would have been our long-awaited chance to go wild. At last, we could unleash all the decadent desires and hedonistic habits we've been bottling up in the name of good parenting for the last two decades. Tequila shots from each other's navel! Naked disco dancing with glow sticks and lollipops! Firecrackers lit under our neighbors' windows! A double dose of Ambien and 12 hours uninterrupted sleep!

Alas, none of those options occurred to us. Our first weekend of uninterrupted coupledom didn't feel like a cause for celebration; it felt like an adjustment. 

Here's the thing I've realized about being empty nesters: you've got to make plans. Because without all the busy-ness your kids create - games, carpools,  meals,  friends, exams, noise and mess - things can get kind of quiet at the old homestead.

If this is sounding depressingly over the hill, take heart. Liam and I aren't ready to pull out the rocking chairs and slurp cream o' chicken soup yet. As the weekend progressed, we got the hang of things. We went to the beach and caught some rays. We watched World Cup soccer at World of Beer in Evanston. We walked into town for dinner. We played our traditional annual round of best ball golf in Winnetka. We saw friends. We cooked breakfast. We took time apart to do our own stuff too, cause who really needs to hang out with anyone - even your beloved - for three days straight? And yes, indeedy (Nick and Emma you might want to stop reading now) we found time for some intimate connection.  

Our daughter still has another year of high school, but it's a good thing we're figuring this empty nest stuff out now. According to the New York Times, "gray divorce" (divorce among people over 50) is on the rise, the majority of which are initiated by women.
"While divorce rates over all have stabilized and even inched downward, the divorce rate among people 50 and older has doubled since 1990, according to an analysis of census data by professors at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. That’s especially significant because half the married population is older than 50. "  Full article at NYTimes.com
My takeaway from this "Empty Nest Test" is this:

1. Be proactive, make plans to do fun things together, try something new!
2. Don't freak out if things get a little quiet.
3. Have your own interests and encourage your mate to pursue his.
4. View the changes positively, for both you and your kids. You might as well embrace this stage of life, 'cause there's no going back!

Do you have any tips to negotiate your relationship after the kids leave home? If so, I'd love to hear them.