I have a teen-ager in my house. Raising him to be a level-headed, productive, faithful adult has been the priority. In a few years, he will graduate and head off to college. My husband and I will begin the journey toward the empty-nest. This summer, our son was chosen to participate in a three-week music program. He would be away without our being able to visit. His departure meant we would have an empty nest.
I’ve heard of couples who really struggle when all the kids leave. No longer do they have a buffer or something other than themselves on which to focus their attention. They have spent years sometimes decades raising kids and functioning as parents. They don’t know how to be individuals and a couple.
I had no expectation about what our three weeks would be like. Would we fight? We don’t usually. Would we talk and spend time together or each find our own space in the house to spend our evenings? What would our weekends be like? No work, no activity with our son’s sports team. Would our conversations center around wondering what he was doing or anecdotes about when he’s with us?
We came home from dropping him off. The energy in the house was different. Admittedly, I felt a little antsy. I had no one to be responsible for. So, I took the dog for a walk. This gave me time to think. I decided to take on a couple of overdue projects while he was gone.
My husband was supportive of the painting and home projects and even suggested one of his own. And so our time began. Our weekdays were pretty normal, we worked. Our evenings were a little different. I tried to plan our dinners. We ate at home, but in front of the television. Several evenings I worked on my projects and finished them in the first week or so. We connected in conversation like we always do. We had a few more date nights then we would have. We laughed and enjoyed just hanging out together. In other words, I was very encouraged by our test run at empty nesting.
I think when the time comes, we will be ready. We will graduate into the next phase of our relationship smoothly. Our son is a blessing and a very special part of our family. But my husband and I like and enjoy each other as well. We are in love and are best friends.
In and of itself, our relationship is strong. We are as intentional about taking care of our marriage as we are about parenting. As parents, we are to raise our kids to release them to live full and productive lives. This is certainly easier said than done. But it’s necessary. Parents, when our job of raising kids is complete, our lives are not over. We will enjoy our son as an adult in whatever work he takes on. Together, my husband and I will have a new adventure in post child-rearing years.