It seems like yesterdayÃ¯Â¿Â½your two boys were involved with high school studies and extra curricular events. Your girls were going to the local community college. Today they are all out on their own; some in distant colleges, others married and beginning their life's work.
The children seem to be doing well. Even though some of their values don't look the same as yours, you feel they are good people.
You have known that this is what your job as parents should lead to. Now both you and your spouse have little to do in your role as parents. This will mean it's time to fill out your own lives in new ways.
How are you stepping back from yourself, as you have always known yourself, to consider what directions you will grow in? What is best for each of you as individuals? What will happen to your couple relationship? What should be the new relationship with your children?
Many people just let it happen. They are fortunate when all turns out well. For many couples today, the "empty nest" has led to break-up of years of marriage. They are not all people who have been having unresolved problems all along. Although that same attitude of being closed to working for change is often the reason for break-up after the "empty nest" takes place.
Other people consciously think about what changes they will make. How much happier they are when, as individuals and as a couple, they consider what is best for them now. They can find it exciting to search out new possibilities. They can feel the good, satisfied feeling of having tried something new.
The "something new" can mean going back to school, starting a new job, or just starting to work outside the home, etc. For some it seems that the "something new" means doing things that are purely for personal pleasure. On the other hand, there are those who realize that now they are freer to work to make this a better world by action outside of family on needed issues. The latter find their pleasure and satisfaction in working with others on a meaningful project.
This changed way of life takes quiet reflection by and communication between the two persons. It takes a willingness to change routines oneself, and to accept it in the other. Done with love for the other, the marriage grows instead of breaking apart.