As one half of a couple in the midst of becoming empty nesters, I can tell you the process – and it is a process! – has not come without a significant amount of stress. In fact, the range of emotions that we have experienced over the past few months has surprised me, both in terms of their variety and intensity. We have occasionally found ourselves mired in melancholy and at other times we have experienced the youthful giddiness of kids embarking upon a new adventure.
Without doubt, becoming an empty nester represents a major life change for all of us. Like so many big changes, it brings challenges as well as opportunities. It represents an opportunity to fulfill latent dreams and aspirations that have been lying dormant while we attended to more pressing child rearing needs. It is a rare time in our lives when, for the most part, we have the means and freedom to truly craft the kind of life we want to enjoy. And it comes later in life when time seems even more precious. It is not an opportunity that we should squander! Instead, it is something that we should prepare for and act on.
The first step in the process will require that you and your partner characterize what you want from this next phase of your life. What are those dreams and needs that have been waiting to be fulfilled? Do you want to recapture something from your youth that you had to abandon in the process of raising a family? How do you want to spend this next phase of your lives? Sharing, and developing a common vision of what this could look like will help guide the many choices that will follow and help ensure that plans that come together will be rich and rewarding for you and your partner. Choices will involve activities and hobbies that you wish to spend time on, the nature and duration of any travel that you may wish to embark on, as well as general lifestyle considerations.
As I live this transition, along with many of my friends, I will cover some of the specific musings in later posts. For now, start the process by talking to your partner about what each of you would love to experience in this next phase of your lives.