Empty nest divorce may be a consequence of an unstable foundation for family life in the very early years:
Often couples meet when they are young and hormones are flooding their bodies. The full implications of providing a home, having children, having unrealistic expectations of private schools, holidays abroad, expensive cars, can put too much pressure on the relationship. They try to achieve what is not affordable, creating huge problems for all the family. Stress and anxiety become constant and it does not provide a stable outlook for family life.
Sadly so many couples end their relationships with this bitterness.
The sad fact is however, that having been together for many years lots of couples separate or get divorced when the children leave home. They realise that they have nothing left in common and have only stayed together for the children’s sake. Many didn’t even realise how far apart they become until the children had left. The heartache then comes for all the family. There may be a house sale, moving on and no family home left for the older children to visit. All the old memories of home have gone. This is one of the occasions when grief is likely to set in.
The grief felt by parents when the children leave home can be severe. The mother may have spent years ferrying the children, not only to school but to all the after school activities. She may have helped out with school canteens and fetes. This was her social life. She misses being needed and the loss of set routines each day.
Father will have spent spare weekends taking the children to soccer matches or netball. Helping with homework or taking the children swimming. Family life can get hectic fitting in every child’s commitment. There never seemed to be time for fishing or meeting up with old friends. Now there is suddenly so much time.
Parents often feel that they do not have the extra time to follow hobbies of their own, even outings or holidays as a couple were impossible to achieve. One parent may have continued where possible with golf, sailing or cricket. This may have left the other partner feeling that they had to carry most of the family work load. This can cause resentments.
When the children do leave home there is a lot of adjusting to do to build the relationship again of being just a couple. A large refocusing of lifestyle is needed. Many couples love the chance to go on holidays and have time just for themselves again. Others find they have spent so much time on the children that they have lost touch with other and have nothing in common any more.
This is sad and it is well worth the effort to try to recapture what was present in the relationship. You have spent so many years devoted to family life that you should enjoy the freedom to be yourselves again. You can go on holiday when you want to, you only have your own commitments to consider. Enjoy this period of your life as that empty nest may soon be filled with grandchildren and the hectic family whirlwind lifestyle may start again.
It is good to talk about your expectations of life together now the children have left home. What does each partner want to do? You could take up a new hobby together or have separate interests. Now is the time to start working on the wish list, you have done a great job bringing up a family, be proud of yourself. Go out there and start thinking about yourself for a change, enjoy life.
There are many types of grief involved in the empty nest syndrome. Losing the children due to separation can be devastating. A mother or father may lose the children for many reasons; perhaps geographical distance, or children unwilling to visit, one partner may suddenly be totally bereft. Some parents may take the children abroad and expensive court battles are common. Man's inhumanity to man knows no boundaries. Separations can be very bitter, extended families all lose touch with each other. An empty nest, plus no contact with the children is a situation which can easily lead to grief and depression.
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There are specialist empty nest syndrome chat groups and clubs on the internet which may be useful. But also try and get out and about and make new friends.
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