With our children leaving the nest, we live like strangers

Monday, October 18th, 2021 00:00 |
Man in a stressed marriage.

Hi Achokis.

My wife and I have been married for the last 27 years.  We have always had our children around, but for the last two years we have been alone.

Nowadays, my wife hardly talks and whanever I suggest anything, she just nods her head. 

When she leaves the house, she doesn’t communicate where she goes or what she is doing. 

When she gets back home, all she does is cook and then sit at a corner with her phone.  I’m worried about her.

We are like two strangers living together. Is this the way we will live for the rest of our married life?  Amos

Thank you Amos for your question.  Twenty seven years in marriage is not  a short time, but it does not mean that you know each other completely.

What you might be going through is a transition in your marriage. In the early part of  marriage, couples spend a lot of time settling down and nurturing children if they have any.

When the children join school and later secondary or boarding, they go through another transition.

Then the time comes when they leave home either for college, marriage or to live on their own.

The couple goes through the empty nest season, which can be a challenging period, especially if one is not psychologically prepared for it.  

Was your marriage all about parenting?

It is good that you have made an observation. Many couples ignore transitions either by wishing it away or merely ignorance.

If taken positively, transitions give us the opportunities to grow. Your wife might be going through the empty nest season.

Very few mothers and even dads are prepared to have their children separated from them. 

Could it be that you allowed yourselves to be defined by your parenting roles? The relationship was steered by the presence of the children.

Now that the children are not there and there’s nothing much to discuss about them, life becomes boring and everyone becomes busy doing their own things; kujipa shughuli. 

Reach out

Maybe there are also things your spouse had wanted to say, but in the past, she was silenced, so she developed a coping mechanism, thus the nodding of the head. 

Maybe life has been squeezed out of her.  As long as the children were there, she was fine, but with them gone, the marital problems began to glare on her face.

Look at this as an opportunity to start afresh. Don’t live in denial, but accept that this is where you find yourself.

Creatively try to reach out to your wife through the things she likes most. You can even suggest taking evening walks together, visiting family together, eating out or together doing other activities that she enjoys.

This may help break the ice and begin talking. She just might begin to open up to you about what is bothering her.

Sometimes it might help to visit a couple friend who are also empty nesters or a professional therapist who will help diagnose the problem.  The writers are marriage and relationship coaches [email protected]

More on News