Once the Kids Leave Home, Make Experiences You Want to Have Happen!
Marjorie Schulte is a Scottsdale, Arizona psychotherapist who has counseled hundreds of couples. When I first interviewed her as I was researching my HappiNest book, she stressed the importance of both partners in a marriage pursuing separate interests. When we fully develop ourselves, and partner with someone who similarly complete, it is a far better union.
If you are discovering new things on your own and feeling “nourished, happy and fulfilled, it presents your partner with a happier, more interesting and more involved spouse.” Marjorie tells me that many modern-day marriages have been “kid-centric,” with couples leading their lives “wedded not to each other, but to the children.”
Marriages that revolve around the kids and leave little time for a spouse take a toll on marital bliss. Parents often lose themselves if they become overly involved in “over-nurturing” their kids. “You then become second,” she says. “And never in life should you be second.”
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What you’ll learn about in this episode:
- Recognize that this precious experience of living is finite. The older we get, the less time we have left, so you just need to get into gear, face your fear, take a risk and stretch! Get into gear—the rewards will come!
- Take an honest look inside yourself. Think of the experiences you want to have and create them. That will lead you to happy living. You never can go wrong with being your truth!
- Many women in this generation chose to overextend themselves and run themselves ragged for many reasons. “We thought it was part of our job to do it all and because women are so competent, they tried to do it all.”
- As women: “One of our major jobs is that of teacher, explainer, information giver and modeler. We need to show men how to be good partners. How to participate and be more of a partner and less of a boss. We need to do that because our culture isn’t doing it.” This is great modeling for women to show their sons early on. You can model for them how they can have a happy life in relationships with women.
- With your kids away, you have an opportunity to do things differently. Instead of blaming your partner, tell him to get up from the table and make a salad. “You begin to expect more help, ask for more help and in that process the resentment will begin to eb.”
- Couples enter a marriage with the misconception that it is a merger, but that is detrimental to happiness. A relationship is a partnership:” Both partners need to maintain their individual identity and autonomy for things to work. It’s important that our life not stop with each other.”
- Have FUN. In a world where there is a lot of stress and angst, enjoying the lighter side of things is a key part of health. Counteract stress with fun.
- If the man is really married to his work, and the woman is really married to the children, once the kids leave, there’s a huge void.
- The empty nest is an opportunity for you to find new and creative ways to be together, to play, to do things you both enjoy and to laugh
- Exercise daily. Keep moving. Be mindful about what you put into your body.
- Do things you enjoy. That’s part of what juices us up and keeps us going.
- When you look at the psychological programming in the world, women are slotted into the role of caretaker, the giver, the doer, the fixer, the communicator. Even as professional women, it “sneaks into our DNA.” We try to do it all and it’s exhausting. Actually, it’s impossible.
- Sitting in front of the TV is a killer for the marriage. Make time for face-to-face communication.
- Getting divorced isn’t necessary a negative. It doesn’t mean you have failed. Sometimes when people think they have done their job by raising and launching their children, they honestly assess their relationship. “Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is leave a relationship that isn’t really working for us and move on to our truth.”
- If you are angry and frustrated, you are not going to be very interested in your partner romantically. If you are mad, resentful or not happy in your relationship, change it. Change you. Do something different. Get out of the blame game. Blame “is absolutely useless.”