By Peter Jones, founder of Jones Myers family law specialist
As anxious and excited students leave home for the first time to embark on the next stage of their life at college or university, their departure also marks a new chapter for their parents.
For many ‘empty nesters’, this is the beginning of their lives without children in the house. It can also bring to the surface long suppressed irritations and tensions that have bubbled under the surface, but whose impact may have been lessened by the demands of children and busy lives.
Two decades of hectic work and child care schedules can result in parents losing touch with each other and becoming different people to the couple who tied the knot.
In today’s climate of longer life expectancies and greater financial independence, the empty nest syndrome is a key factor to wives and husbands splitting up rather than spending the next three two or even decades together.
Avoid becoming another Grey Divorce
Before becoming another ‘grey divorce’ and empty nester statistic, consider the following steps:
Express your feelings
Communicating honestly and openly and sharing and expressing your feelings and concerns is vital. Long-standing relationships deserve time, careful consideration and discussion. Go for a long walk in the country or to the seaside: it is the ideal setting for an exploratory conversation or to clear the air, as it is very difficult to go any distance without talking.
Being free of parenting responsibilities can be a great opportunity for couples to take up new interests or return to fun hobbies they enjoyed in their pre-children days. Having more time to focus on each other will rekindle rapport and affection. Marriage is a partnership – go back to being on the same team.
Create a life plan
People running or involved in business would not dream of operating without a plan. Preparing your future together also requires a well thought through plan which includes finances and key goals and aspirations such as moving house, hobbies and holidays. This focus is key to help you maximize your pre-retirement and retirement years and devising it before the children move away will help the transition.
There is no substitute for ongoing dialogue and communication. If your marriage is in a rut – get out of it. Set up a weekly ‘date night’ and share and discuss your exciting plans for your golden years and adventures.
Until you are actually without somebody you have shared most of your life with, you cannot know how much you will miss them. If your marriage is worth saving you will find solutions to your problems.
About Peter Jones
Peter Jones is one of the country’s leading divorce and family lawyers. A qualified arbitrator and mediator, Peter set up Jones Myers as the first niche family law firm in the north of England in 1992 and has acted for a string of high-profile clients.
Renowned for his sympathetic approach, he is a former national chairman of Resolution, a former Deputy District Judge – and instigated the D5 Group of law firms that promotes excellence in family law. www.jonesmyers.co.uk