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Posted by North East Quine (# 13049) on :
 
This is the year our younger child goes off to University. It's also the year of our Silver Wedding Anniversary, so we're taking stock and trying to envisage the next twenty five years.

Long-married shipmates, have you any reflections or advice on being a "couple" again, after many years of being, primarily "parents"?
 
Posted by Doc Tor (# 9748) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by North East Quine:
This is the year our younger child goes off to University. It's also the year of our Silver Wedding Anniversary, so we're taking stock and trying to envisage the next twenty five years.

Long-married shipmates, have you any reflections or advice on being a "couple" again, after many years of being, primarily "parents"?

This is only three years away for us, too (along with our silver).

My mum went to college (for the first time) when I went away to train to be a cookery judge. My dad was still very much at work, so it affected him far less. I have pretty much all the degrees I want, and I'm the one who's going to be most affected. It's not like I'm not busy, but ... I actually like my kids' company. [Frown]
 
Posted by TE Brown (# 11920) on :
 
Me too - I like my daughter's company, and am already mourning her departure to college far away in the fall. I told her I'll be wearing all black for the next four years. (Good thing I look good in black [Smile] )

My husband and I will be empty nesters as well then, and have been discussing what our lives might look like in future. As we both have jobs that keep us very occupied, for now we will just keep on doing the same and endeavor not to heave crockery at each other. Fortunately, we've worked at staying friends with each other as well as staying married, so I hope that won't be too hard! After she graduates - who knows?

TEB
 
Posted by North East Quine (# 13049) on :
 
We both like our kids' company, and we both share stuff with our kids that we don't share with each other - e.g. husband and kids devour fantasy fiction, my daughter and I share a passion for Jane Austen, and my son and I have similar taste in poetry. There's a lot of talk about books in our household, but take away the kids and there's far less common ground.
 
Posted by Landlubber (# 11055) on :
 
If your youngest plans to come back at the end of every term, you'll only have a few weeks to practise being an empty-nester before the chick has flown back, so don't get too used to it!

I initiated a lot of earnest discussions with my other half about what we could do, what life would be like without the children etc, to the extent that he told me to stop bothering about the future and get on with living now, so I have no advice to offer except be flexible. In the end, none of the ideas we had for what the second twenty-five years might be like worked out (so far) but we have found new ones. Good luck!
 
Posted by Chorister (# 473) on :
 
A strange thing happens when your children grow up and leave home - time speeds up! So you still never have time to fit in all the things you want to do. We found that a good balance of things you do together and things where you follow individual interests works best. Then you have lots to talk about in the times you are back together again.
 
Posted by Barnabas Aus (# 15869) on :
 
We were nearly 33 years married before our last child left for the final time. They were like boomerangs - they kept coming back. At one point, my son and his wife moved out from our house after six weeks with us waiting for their home to be ready and our daughter moved back in the following day.

As we are both retired now, we have been careful to establish our own routines and spaces within the house, so that we're not getting in each other's way all the time. We enjoy many things together. We try and have a restaurant lunch or dinner once a week, work on the house and garden together, and enjoy our music without competing with the sound systems and computer games in other parts of the house. We also work together on parish and community activities.

So, for us, the secret is a balance between togetherness and individual interests.
 
Posted by piglet (# 11803) on :
 
As a non-parent, I can only offer an opinion from the Other Side ...

I'm the youngest; my brother and sister had lived away from home for over ten years before I left, and my father had not long retired when I left permanently (when I got married). I don't think my leaving made a huge difference to Mum and Dad's lives. They had various things they enjoyed doing - they both sang in the local choral society; he played in the brass band and orchestra; she sang in a chamber group; and they were both in the camera club. That, plus doing a fair bit of travelling, meant they didn't really have time to brood.

I remember Mum being more apprehensive about us leaving Orkney than Dad was (we were moving to Belfast when the Troubles were still a feature of daily life), but I really don't think it took either of them long to adjust, especially once they'd been over to visit us.
 
Posted by PeteC (# 10422) on :
 
As I walked up a long flight of stairs to reach my new dormitory at university, I glanced back to see my mother dissolved in tears (and carried on). It took her about one month to realize that I had not left home forever and then she threw herself into new activities (piano playing for herself, square dancing with my Dad - and a little travelling.) She only had a year of this, because my Dad was killed. So then, she had to learn to do things by herself, and that was a much longer process. But I like to think that she was reasonably busy and more or less happy for the last 15 years of her life.

A note from the other side of empty nesting.
 
Posted by North East Quine (# 13049) on :
 
We both have busy lives, and we're not worried about time hanging heavy on either of us. There are not enough hours in the day as it is, and I don't see that changing.

It's more the re-adjustment to being a couple.

Take last Sunday morning, for example. Husband had to be at church early, as he was on AV duty. So he walked there alone, and daughter and I followed later. Daughter and I sat together, as he was at the AV. Then husband and daughter went for post-service coffee together, while I went to a Sunday School planning meeting. Daughter and husband walked home together, and I followed later. I got home to find them well on with Sunday lunch, so I left them to it and did some church stuff on the computer. Then we had lunch together. A pleasant family Sunday morning.

Take our daughter out of that, and we go from being a "family" to two individuals whose paths barely crossed. And that seems typical of how we spend a lot of our time at the moment.

This can't be unusual, surely?
 
Posted by Jengie Jon (# 273) on :
 
No you organise differently. At present you are still organising around your daughter.

How about this for how Sunday might have looked without your daughter. You go with your husband to help him set up AV, you do the none technical things such as reading hymns into microphones so he can check levels. You wonder how he managed to do this alone*. During the service you sit near him so as to be ready to jump if there is a small job that needs doing such as taking up a fresh radio mic.

Putting the AV stuff away at the end is going to take longer than usual as you have to go to Sunday School meeting but he will have a coffee and chat with other Sunday School spouses while he waits.

When Sunday School meeting is over you decide to go out somewhere for lunch together as it is now late and you really can't be bothered starting to prepare.

That is not pure imagination, every single activity I have seen occur with other couples without children. At one stage my home church's AV person and his wife went out for lunch every single Sunday as they finished at church so late.

Jengie

*based on experience. I had to be in church very early so only I hear the wails of the sound system as I try to test microphones in position in the pulpit. (Yes, I know what is wrong but I do not know how given I cannot move the speaker or the pulpit I can fix it).

[ 27. March 2014, 08:07: Message edited by: Jengie Jon ]
 
Posted by North East Quine (# 13049) on :
 
Good point, Jengie. In our particular instance, our AV is permanently set up, so he doesn't need any help (although I could go early and just lurk), there were no other Sunday School spouses for him to chat to, and coffee was long over by the time the meeting finished.

This Sunday I'll be going early as I'm on Sunday School duty and have to set up and he's on offering duty, so he'll be in the vestry whilst I'm at the post-service coffee. We can walk home together, though.

Perhaps the answer is to take our names off all the duty rotas! [Two face]

We're just going to have to adjust!

Any positive stories, Shipmates??
 
Posted by Nenya (# 16427) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by North East Quine:
It's more the re-adjustment to being a couple.

Indeed it is; something Mr Nen and I (28 years married) are also facing. Nenlet2 is still at home with us at present but this could well change this year. We have always been a couple with lots of space in our togetherness and have been consciously carving out time for each other so that we don't end up living parallel lives.

So we go dancing together one evening a week and make sure we regularly have the "when are we going to make some time together?" conversation. Chat over coffee in a cafe is good - you give each other undivided attention without the distractions of the home. Make a date of it.

I am not saying we have it sorted. There are times when the prospect of it just being the two of us makes me [Eek!] .
 
Posted by Jengie Jon (# 273) on :
 
You mean you leave the mics out?!!

[Eek!] At around £90 for a decent wired one and £300 for a radio [Eek!] and easily pocketable. [Eek!]

Jengie

[ 27. March 2014, 17:54: Message edited by: Jengie Jon ]
 
Posted by Stercus Tauri (# 16668) on :
 
A real cynic might suggest that the nest is not truly empty until the fledglings are off the family payroll. But then I have to remember the cheques that providentially appeared from another generation of parents and grandparents when things were tough for us.

It's a complicated issue that I haven't unravelled yet. When our daughters were at home, I had a long working day and a long commute, very little paid vacation time (usual in North America), and never spent enough time with anyone - I sometimes felt like an absentee parent, not knowing my own children as they grew. I let myself get devoured by the church, which was a good antidote to work, but took me away even more. Now, we're so used to not doing things together it can take serious effort to make it happen.

A very old lady in my elder's district, who had been widowed for a long time, gave me the best advice: don't put off doing things together.
 
Posted by no prophet (# 15560) on :
 
WE're in the midst as well, though 35 years married and 40 together. Youngest finishes univ this spring and moved out last fall.

Both of us seem to have adopted additional individual activities, mostly recreational sports (they say we are 'masters' level, which just means old I guess), and some joint things, mostly social with other couples. Unfortunately we are churchless, which was a large part of our lives (lay assistant, reader, choir, vestry, diocesan committees), but our church closed last summer, and we haven't found another yet.

I seem to be thinking of myself as an "older adult" when I was offered the senior's discount a couple of times: do I really look old? I feel like a kid until I have to adjust the bifocals to read.

I've realized the dreams of retirement will combine with work, not for necessity but because it is a valued activity. I would drop it all it we get grandchildren....

Glad you started the topic.
 
Posted by North East Quine (# 13049) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jengie Jon:
You mean you leave the mics out?!!

[Eek!] At around £90 for a decent wired one and £300 for a radio [Eek!] and easily pocketable. [Eek!]

Jengie

I don't have the technical language to describe our AV, but I don't think any part of it is worth stealing. The microphones at the pulpit and lectern are fixed on, and AFAIK the clip-on one which the minister wears is kept in the same locked cupboard as his Geneva gown, and put on and taken off at the same time.
 
Posted by Cara (# 16966) on :
 
Interesting OP.

After 34 years of marriage, and empty nest for 8 years, I have some experience here.

Your description of your Sunday, N E Q, was very interesting and didn't resemble anything we've done--we enjoyed the company of our kids very much but never managed to cultivate, as much as we'd have liked to, one-on-one activities with each of them, as you have clearly done and in such a fruitful way.

However we did always try to keep our life as a couple going all through the parenting years, (hard as it often was)...especially once the kids were less small, we tried to make sure we got time together on a "date night" now and then...and then as the kids got older and were doing their own thing with friends and sport more and more, we naturally did more things as a couple, rather than as a whole family (tho still had family dinners and family holidays).

So when the last child left, it did not seem a hard transition, tho we had been v focused on that child's school activities (school plays etc) and there were many pangs when that was all over, it was very strange to suddenly have no connection with school (used in UK sense here, not US sense of college) after twenty continuous years!! So I am not saying it is easy, I do remember lots of sadness about all that and knowing the last one was definitely leaving (luckily to attend a college not very far away so we still we able to see quite a bit of that one, as of them all, in fact).

There are also many advantages to the empty nest--the biggest being less worry, because you don't know what the kid is up to!!! (Rather than knowing that, eg, kid has taken the car out and you aren't sure when s/he will be back...).
There are other advantages to your new privacy that I am sure you will think of, if you haven't already....!

We are very different in terms of interests etc, and found it's important to rediscover the things that you liked doing together back in the early pre-children days.... the things that drew you together....whatever common interests there are, and sometimes it takes a little work to foster these....

But it can be a lovely time in the life of a couple. We also had an adventure, moved to a different country for husband's job, and this shared new experience added a richness to things.

Now, a much harder transition--husband has just retired, I was always at home (first children, then writing) and now suddenly we are both at home and he at a bit of a loose end...but that's another story.
 
Posted by John Holding (# 158) on :
 
Our oldest chose to move away for university -- rather to our relief as he had a lot of growing up to do, and we knew it would be a lot more painful for him and for us if he was living at home. Over the four years of his studies we saw him less and less, until a week at CHristmas was the lot in his last year, and he moved even further away at the end of classes. We see him once every couple of years (he doesn't really have the money -- upwards of $1,000) to come and visit, and it's a week's non-stop driving for us to get to him.

The next (3 years younger) demanded equality, so away she went. Again, we saw her less and less through her degree. She chose to stay in the place where her university had been. SHe's now married and lives there. Easier to get to, so we see her 3-4 times a year for a weekend or a bit more.

The youngest wasn't going to leave us ever (our hearts sank) but decided in a bit of a rush that she would go away to university. Same story as her sister.

Its really not so bad, depending on what your expectations are. And recognizing that no matter how much your children love you, they're leaving in a perfectly natural way. The trouble is to make your expectatations accomodate their reality. Your expectations are yours, not theirs, and as parents, you have to get used to them taking the lead.

John
 
Posted by Welease Woderwick (# 10424) on :
 
I, the youngest, left with work [my siblings long gone] and my parents were alone so they got a dog and did more hill and country walking. Some years later I was headed back in that geographical direction and my dad took me on one side and said that they loved seeing me whenever I visited but hoped that I wasn't thinking of actually coming home for the two years the course was due to run.

I thought that was a very reasonable viewpoint.
 
Posted by John Holding (# 158) on :
 
Add to what WW said

When we were growing up (in different cities)in the 50s and 60s, my wife and I just assumed we would leave home for good at the latest when we finshed our first degrees. Because we live in Canada, "leaving home" frequently means moving a thousand or two thousand miles away.

Therefore we raised our own children to be able to move away as soon as possible after school -- in this case, high school, though university provided a certain gradual element to the process.

Skype and stuff now provides a way to be together in a way no other generation has been -- my mother wrote weekly to her mother, and every two weeks to her mother in law. That was the lot, unless they came to visit (3,000 mile trip in one case, and 500 miles with no car in the other). My mother was lucky to get a letter a week -- when I was in the UK, more like one a month. Later, 1,500 miles away I had access to a free telephone line, so called about once a week.

My parents left their parents behind, except for a couple of years in one case, and we left ours behind, as our children have left us. My grandparents left their parents behind -- in one case, they moved to Canada from the UK with no thought that they would ever see their families again.

Kids leave home and move away.

John

[ 30. March 2014, 00:35: Message edited by: John Holding ]
 
Posted by Brenda Clough (# 18061) on :
 
My soon bomeranged home after college, and is now living in his old bedroom while working part time. It is actually fun having him around. It makes it so much MORE fun when he is away.
 
Posted by Lamb Chopped (# 5528) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Holding:

Kids leave home and move away.

In some countries and cultures. But the North American experience is very skewed by the historical experience of immigration and settlement.

Me, I'm sort of hoping my only child remains less than a million miles away. We haven't got many relatives closer than 2000 miles, and that can get lonely.
 
Posted by Porridge (# 15405) on :
 
I have no nest to empty; at least, I have a nest of sorts, but only the occasional niece or nephew in temporary residence. Alas, they are now all approaching an age where the odd visit to an even odder, now-single aunt is likely to become increasingly rare, if it happens at all.

I will miss being Auntie, dispensing (only on request) non-parental advice. Hard to know how to fill what will nevertheless be a real gap.
 
Posted by PeteC (# 10422) on :
 
Just hang in there for their children, Porridge. In the absence of my own children, that has kept me amused into old age.
 
Posted by Taliesin (# 14017) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
quote:
Originally posted by John Holding:

Kids leave home and move away.

In some countries and cultures. But the North American experience is very skewed by the historical experience of immigration and settlement.


My Palestinian friends are incredulous at the western idea of your kids buggering off. What is the point of paying for their education if they're just going to leave? Is it true that they go and live in a room somewhere with no family?

In Palestine, a family lives in an apartment block, each sibling has a flat for their partner and children, the parent lives in a room or a flat depending on how wealthy the family is. I loved it... incredibly supportive.
 
Posted by Lamb Chopped (# 5528) on :
 
And among the Vietnamese who are able to afford it, all the grown kids buy Mom and Dad a nice house in the same neighborhood or street where they all live themselves, and deliver the grandkids there every weekday to be watched while the middle generation is at work. There is certainly plenty of friction, but on the whole I prefer that to loneliness.
 
Posted by North East Quine (# 13049) on :
 
Facebook makes it easy for my elder child and I to be in daily contact, even though he's a couple of hundred miles away at Uni. I assume I'll be in daily contact with my younger child when she goes away, too.

I'm not worried about "losing" my children. I'm concerned about reforging a relationship which has been, for the last twenty years, primarily one of "parents" and "family" as a primarily "couple" relationship.

Nenya's comment about the possibility of ending up living "parallel lives" is spot-on.
 
Posted by Pigwidgeon (# 10192) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Taliesin:
In Palestine, a family lives in an apartment block, each sibling has a flat for their partner and children, the parent lives in a room or a flat depending on how wealthy the family is. I loved it... incredibly supportive.

When I was married my mother-in-law lived over 2000 miles away -- that was too close. Having her in the same house would have been hell.
 
Posted by Taliesin (# 14017) on :
 
.... the couple thing - I'm fairly sure my OH and I will be ok, because we did the whole, nearly got divorced and did 9 months counselling with relate, last decade.

Actually, I wouldn't recommend that as a strategy. Painful. Glad now, though.
 
Posted by The Intrepid Mrs S (# 17002) on :
 
The junior S's boomeranged about a bit before they finally and completely decamped, but it didn't stop me missing them - however it did make life simpler when there were only two of us.

Then Mr S took early retirement and I had to learn to cope with him doing the cooking and the shopping, which was HARD. Still, we settled to that, and he began to have a life of his own after spending so much time travelling on business before he left work.

Stage three was my retirement, quite abruptly, last July, when we had to learn another way of life again. Luckily the weather was good and we had lots to accomplish to a deadline (Miss S's wedding in October) so that was a fairly easy transition.

Now, we are working on a balance of things we do together and things we do on our own - so that a) we have separate identities, and b) we have stuff to talk about. For instance I always said I wouldn't get involved in Mr S's food bank activities, partly because I am temperamentally unsuited to it and partly so it doesn't take over our lives as Scouting did in its heyday. He doesn't have anything to do with my puppetry, and so on. But one day a week we keep clear to do something together - walking, geocaching, visiting somewhere new, etc.

It works for us. And I am perhaps morbidly conscious that everyone needs a space where they are not someone else's wife/husband/mother etc - when my father died, my mother had nowhere like that and had to start again to build herself a space where she wasn't the headmaster's widow (they's taught at the same school, had all the same friends, etc etc).

YMMV, of course, but for what it's worth, it can be just brilliant [Yipee]

Mrs. S, hoping for the best, planning for the worst!
 
Posted by Boogie (# 13538) on :
 
When I dropped Boogielet 2 at university I waved a cheery 'goodbye', went to the car, sat down and howled! It was a visceral, animal howl that I have never heard before. It was as if the university had stolen my beautiful son and would never give him back. I was totally unprepared for it.

Now of course, both sons are settled and happy. When they visit for a week or two I love it - but look forward to getting the house back when they go too.

I adore Boogielet2's GF and had the pleasure of having her for two weeks to myself recently (we were on holiday and he was at work). It was great to get to know her without him around - don't tell him [Biased]
 
Posted by North East Quine (# 13049) on :
 
I think I'm prepared for it. Although who knows when the time comes?

We were totally unprepared for initial parenthood. I hadn't realised I was going to give birth to a small person; I'd always regarded babies as a bit dull till they started doing stuff. We arrived home from hospital with our first when he was seven hours old, put him, in his car seat, down, looked at each other and realised neither of us had any idea of what we were supposed to do next. Not. A. Clue. In the event we put the kettle on as a good first step.

I suppose getting home after leaving younger at Uni will be a bit like that.

[ 01. April 2014, 10:25: Message edited by: North East Quine ]
 
Posted by Boogie (# 13538) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by North East Quine:

I suppose getting home after leaving younger at Uni will be a bit like that.

Yes - like after birth and death, the whole universe shifts.
 
Posted by North East Quine (# 13049) on :
 
At least this time we can see it coming. Whereas when I had our elder child, at no point in the preceding nine months had the penny dropped that our universe was about to shift. [Hot and Hormonal]
 


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