Approaching Your Golden Years

Get a life already.

How many of you have silently shouted that at your husband?

It seems to happen about the same time the kids grow up and leave the nest. Women who are used to being “busy” taking care of all things kid related, suddenly realize they have more time to themselves. Time to devote to that hobby they have always wanted to take up. You know, knitting, photography, a new fitness routine, yoga, learning to play a musical instrument….whatever the activity is, it usually means they are getting out and meeting some new people. And are finding some excitement in that freedom and space.

They'll no doubt be meeting people who are like minded, so that can mean instant excitement, instant new friends. Instant good feelings about themselves especially if they discover the new hobby is something they are really good at!

So why isn’t your husband excited for you?

Instead of loving the fact that you are now able to have time for yourself and are doing something you enjoy, your husband may react a little strangely. He may cling.

Okay that’s probably the LAST thing you want your husband to do, you want him to go off and find a hobby he is interested in, right? You don’t want to be responsible for his happiness too, that’s just like taking care of kids. And you just got done with that.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s different for guys when the kids leave the nest. Guys want more time with “us”. They’ve been waiting for the kids to grow up and leave the nest, so we will then have more time for them.

Whoops. That doesn’t work very well when all we want is time to do what we want to do.

I think that as a woman, I have always been under the impression that guys have more time and more freedom to pursue their interests while the kids are young. Even if you have a great husband, who in turn is a great dad, they still have a lot less to take care of in the house. Yard work, and a Honey Do List does not equal out years of being responsible for the “house”. With the house comes the laundry, the groceries, the cooking, the cleaning and the shopping for new clothes as the kids grow up and out of theirs. Not to mention the time spent on holidays, school activities, carpooling, and other things women, even working women, are responsible for all the time.

So if you find yourself feeling flabbergasted by your husband's reaction, what should you do? First, examine the why he might be feeling that way. Is he afraid of change? Is he afraid your changing will take you away from him? Maybe he is just realizing that as you change, he needs to change, too. Scary stuff if you are not ready for that.

I know many women get angry and start pulling away even further, clinging to their new found independence, new body, new friends, whatever…..and that probably makes it worse for their already worried husbands who aren't quite sure how to deal with the changes in their wives.

So communicate with him sooner, rather than later. Just because you are finding a new passion, or learning something new doesn’t mean you don’t want to be with him. He might feel just a teeny bit threatened by the independence and confidence you are gaining. Let him know that it isn't necessarily that you are bored at home with him and your normal routine, although that can be part of it for some, you just feel the need to pursue something you are passionate about and now have time for. I firmly believe that you deserve this time, need this time to make you a better, stronger, and happier spouse. And I get that you want him to understand this, and either find something exciting to do on his own, or be excited for your new endeavor and pick up the slack at home.

It is never easy, this changing of roles, this first adapting to having kids, then adapting to taking care of them, then reevaluating when they are gone, and sometimes having to adjust to their return. (This part seems to be happening a lot lately).

But if you love your husband you will figure out a way to navigate this together. Remember the reason you were attracted to him in the first place? It is still in there, under the clingy "ness" and behind the worry. Help him find his comfort zone with your new changes, communicate your desires and expectations, let him know that he still has a place, a very important place.

If you talk honestly and are willing to consider things from his perspective, he will do the same for you. It might be a really good time to clean house a little, let go of feelings you've been harboring, start this new phase of life off with a clean slate. Maybe even try doing some new things together with your "free" time.

I'm positive they call them "golden years" for a reason. How are you going to spend yours?