DODGE CITY–Back-to-school season is a period of change for adults and kids alike. Bags are being packed across Kansas now as thousands of kids prepare to leave home for the first time to attend college, travel or work. As children depart, parents enter a new season of their own that can affect their romantic relationship: empty nesting. During this transition parents have a new opportunity to reconnect with one other. Love Letters from Kansas, a public awareness campaign sponsored by Catholic Charities of Kansas that promotes the benefits of healthy relationships through free relationship education and marriage enrichment workshops, encourages Kansans who are new or soon-to-be empty nesters to embrace this opportunity to refocus on their relationship after their kids leave home.
Whether your last child is living in a college dorm or working their first full-time job, once they leave home the dynamic between you and your spouse will change. Some relationship experts label this time as the second half of marriage, a period to reinvent your relationship and determine what you want your future together to be like.
“Many couples experience sadness upon becoming empty nesters, but this important milestone can actually be a joyous experience,” said Deborah Snapp, executive director, Catholic Social Service in the Diocese of Dodge City. “This is an ideal time to rekindle the relationship and pursue activities you might not have had time for as you raised a family. In our free relationship education and marriage
enrichment workshops offered across the state, we provide guidance and support for many couples and singles going through the empty nester transition.”
Relationship experts Claudia and David Arp, founders of Marriage Alive, suggest the following tips on foryourmarriage.com to improve your relationship after the kids leave home.
· Celebrate! You made it through the active parenting years. Although it’s not uncommon to feel some sense of loss and regret at this time of life, you can counter those feelings by promoting a strong sense of celebration about where the two of you are now and of excitement about your future. Go out to dinner. Have some fun. Have a great date.
· Acknowledge that this is a time of transition. Say to each other, “Things are changing right now and that’s okay.” Change can bring out insecurities below the surface. Just acknowledging that things are changing can help with the transition. Transitional times can be stressful but they also give you the opportunity to redefine your relationship and to find new fulfillment, intimacy and closeness.
· Resist making immediate decisions about your future until you have some perspective. Realize that things are changing and that you can change with them – but you need to take it slow. Give yourself time to get to know each other again and revitalize your relationship.
Page 2 of 2 - · Plan an empty nest getaway to talk about what is great about your relationship and the areas that need work. Make a commitment to work on the weak areas and reinvent your marriage.
If sadness from missing your child has an impact on the relationship you have with your spouse or others, the Mayo Clinic recommends the following steps to cope with empty nest syndrome: accept the timing, keep in touch, seek support if you need to and stay positive.
Catholic Charities of Kansas offers a variety of free support services to help individuals and couples strengthen their relationships through all stages, including the process of becoming empty nesters. Relationship education and marriage enrichment workshops are open to singles and couples of all faiths who are looking for tips and tools to enrich existing or future relationships. Find more information on upcoming workshops, as well as other resources to improve your relationship, at www.KansasLoveLetters.com.