Mormon Therapist on Empty Nesting

Is it common for one to feel resentful of the other spouse when empty-nesting? All I see in my spouse now are all the wrongs I’ve ever felt. I’m having a really hard time getting over it.

The “empty nest” stage of family development can be both a challenging and rewarding time of life. So much of what our lives consist of before hitting this stage revolves around creating a family, raising children, and trying to get them successfully launched. Parenting is exhausting, exhilarating, rewarding, painful and incredibly time-consuming. All parents make concessions as a couple to pull off this incredible feat. There just isn’t the time and energy left for parents to function as a couple in the same way they did through their courting and pre-children years. LDS couples face the added cultural and doctrinal pressure to marry early and not put off having children. Their pre-children relationship is relatively short. They don’t have much experience being alone in their relationship. Because children take up so much of our time and energy it can be easy to ignore or deny marital problems along the way. Then as children leave, it is inevitable that the focus turns back to the couplehood – with the resulting negative or positive implications. Many couples find this to be an enjoyable time, when they can refocus on their sweetheart, enjoy more time and activities together and explore new things that there previously was no time for. However, if there have been problems brewing for the last 20 to 30 years, this can be an incredibly difficult time when you are now facing them head on. So, yes, it is normal to face resentments and struggles during this stage of life- especially if there are unresolved issues.

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