Intimacy & Relationship Expert Laura Doyle

World’s Most-Trusted Intimacy Expert and Relationship Coach

Dear Laura,

Now that my youngest son is out of the house, I feel like my husband and I are not on the same page. He’s stubborn and we fight a lot.

When the kids were here it was more tolerable, but now that we’re empty-nesters, I’m questioning whether my husband and I have anything in common. Am I crazy to want to get out of this marriage and be able to do what I want to do when I want to do it? I don’t feel any love for my husband anymore.

Signed,

Nest Not Quite Empty Enough

 

Dear Nest,

Congratulations on reaching the empty-nest season. The transition you’re in brings up feelings of loss of identity, purpose and routine and a kind of exhilarating empowerment about being able to finally focus on your own self-interests. Sounds like you’re right on schedule.

Kids are powerful relationship glue, and many a marriage has lasted simply because there were kids in the home and the parents put the kids’ needs ahead of their own. I certainly admire that.

You’ve spent a lot of years focusing on your families needs instead of your own, and because of that you may feel more than ready to finally have things your way. Being alone may sound easier and more peaceful––but that doesn’t mean it’s time to throw your husband out just yet.

What are you doing that brings you joy and fulfills on your passions?

If you’re feeling at all resentful about the time you lost when you weren’t doing the things that would have been really fulfilling for you, that anger might be misdirected at your husband, even though you willingly made that sacrifice. Now that it’s just you and him, when those feelings of resentment come up, he may appear to be the cause of that pain. But it’s possible for him to become a great source of enjoyment again, just like he was when you first met. And the very activities and pursuits that are calling you–whether that’s running a business or getting your easel out to paint–will be absolutely critical to having that happen.

When a woman tells me that she is having a lot of arguments in her relationship, one of the very first things that I ask is, “What are you doing that brings you joy and fulfills on your passions?” Most of the time, the response that I get in return is that she hasn’t had time to do much for her own enjoyment and pure fun. That happens sometimes, but since joyful self-care is such a vital part of keeping your relationship healthy and happy, not to mention having a great life, that’s the first place I look when peace in the home has gone missing.

What does self-care have to do with your marriage, you might ask? Good question! When your husband is getting on your very last nerve, what’s really going on is that you’re hungry, or tired, or have too much on your plate, or you just haven’t had any fun in a while. There’s a direct correlation between your self-care and your level of tolerance for your husband.

One way to give yourself the benefit of having those reserves is to proactively do at least three things every day for your own pleasure. It could be something as simple as taking time to read, going for a walk, or calling a friend. The point is to do something for yourself every day to nurture your own spirit.

Practicing self-care goes a long way in making you more relaxed and all around happier, which creates less stress and irritability in your relationship. Instead of fighting about how to address the unexpected plumbing problem, you and your husband can laugh about it. Instead of feeling you can’t stand to see him talk with his mouth full one more time, you’re still glowing from your long talk with your sister. In other words, when you feel good, things have a greater chance of going smoothly.

Practicing selfcare goes a long way in making you more relaxed and all around happier…

I know it may not seem like making yourself happy is going to make your relationship happy again, but I promise that this it’s actually the first indispensable step to having a vibrant relationship. You can’t have a happy relationship when you’re not happy.

The good news is that you have an intersection of more time and energy than you did before your kids moved out and it’s the perfect time to listen to your heart and pay attention to what’s calling you out to play. You’ll be amazed how quickly your relationship improves when you do.

If you’re feeling frazzled, tired, or frustrated with your husband, or in your relationship in general, it may feel odd to shift your focus from the point of contention to your own happiness and rest. But by taking care of yourself, you not only gain a fresh perspective, you are also showing others–like your husband–how to treat you well.

Do you have questions that you’d like answered? You can submit them to me at http://intimacyandpeace.com/questions/ and I’ll do my very best to support you.

Until next time, take good care of you!