There will come a time when the children are off to college or just going out on their own. Some parents will be happy to have their lives become less hectic; others will grieve that their child-raising years are over. So here you are, looking at each other at the dinner table, and you don’t have a clue what to talk about. No more discussions about soccer, cheerleading, prom dresses, and so forth. It is time to get to know your partner again. So how do you begin? Since 1990, the divorce rate among couples aged 55-64 has more than doubled, according to recent data. Reasons vary but one significant contributing factor is that many couples focus so much time and energy on their children that they neglect their own relationship and find it difficult to reconnect later. Here are a few ideas to make the transition easier and reconnect with your spouse.
Ways To Reconnect
GET SOME REST
Most couples are exhausted after the children leave home. Feel free to have some downtime. When you’re going through a big change, it can take more energy than you think. Give your body and soul a little time to recover.
ACCEPT THAT THINGS WILL BE DIFFERENT
Try to be patient with your spouse (and yourself). Remind each other that it’s normal to feel unsettled during times of transition. Commit to making your marriage the best it can be and what that means to each of you. Let go of any past disappointments and forgive one another if needed.
REMEMBER HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Take time together to reminisce. Look at photos from when you dated and the early years of your marriage. Talk about favorite memories from those times and the qualities that attracted you to each other.
PLAN A GETAWAY
Taking a trip together can be a great way to reconnect. Maybe your spouse would like to take a day trip to visit a nearby attraction or has secretly been dreaming of visiting Europe.
RECREATE SPECIAL TIMES
Revisit some of the places you went to when you were dating. Listen to your favorite love songs, and dance together in the living room. Find ways to have fun with each other again.
REEVALUATE YOUR FUTURE TOGETHER
Share any new interests or dreams you may have, including things you might be able to do together. You might think it sounds fun to join a supper club or try ballroom dancing. You may be surprised to learn how each other’s interests have changed over time.
CREATE NEW ROUTINES
Dedicate one night a week as “date night”. You will actually have time for regular date nights again. Take turns planning where you’ll go and what you’ll do on your dates. You may also decide to spend time volunteering together for a charity you both support. Or schedule regular times to take walks together. Respect each other’s need for alone time and make that a part of your new routine as well.
DONT FORGET PHYSICAL INTIMACY
Many believe that as you grow older, you lose interest in sex. However, many older married couples report a high level of sexual satisfaction. As life’s demands decrease and slow down make time to savor intimate time together.
SEEK HELP IF NEEDED
If you’ve tried to reconnect with your spouse and it doesn’t seem to be working, seek outside help. There may be unresolved issues and disappointments that you have set aside, and old wounds can spring back up when life slows down a bit. A marriage retreat or some counseling may be just what you need to get back on track.
If you feel like you’ve grown apart while raising your children, remember, it took a time for the two of you to grow apart, and it may take time (and patience) to reconnect. In fact, it may feel as if you’re starting all over.
The greatest predictor of how well a relationship survives after children leave home is the connection couples have between each other. The important thing is to be proactive—communicate, spend time together, and lean on each other for support. The second half of your marriage can be wonderful. It’s up to the two of you to decide.