Natasha Helfer Parker is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and a member of the Church with 13 years of experience working with LDS members. Here she shares with us representative cases from her practice and insights she has gained from her work as a therapist. She blogs at mormontherapist.blogspot.com.
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.
- Hopefully all along the family cycle, a couple will make the time and effort to continue to date and court one another. This includes romance, flirting, outings, and the ability to keep their sexual lives satisfying to both partners.
- Whether you have done this up until now or not, this should be a time to restart the courting process. It is an opportunity to start anew the romantic journey that started long ago and rekindle those original feelings you more than likely felt for one another. The added maturity you both now have and the success of staying together for these many years, can make this process of reconnecting a redefining time for both.
- It is important to remember that when there are unresolved issues, it is a natural human tendency to stay focused and even fixated on the negatives of the situation- to the point that a person in unable to see the positives that are also part of the equation. The best way to stop feeling resentful is to be able to get validation for the reasons the resentments exist. Starting marital therapy can be a highly beneficial way to process through the many successes and failures a couple has been through by this time. It is important to identify the many strengths and resources you have developed together over the years, as well as the things you feel you were never able to master. If there are past hurts or problems that have never been resolved, it is important for a couple to face them together in a way that will increase the honesty within the relationship, offer validation and hopefully end in forgiveness and moving on to new possibilities. This takes work and effort but has worthwhile results.
- Even though children have left the home, the example you continue to provide as a married couple continues to have far-reaching effects on your kids and their upcoming relationships. Understanding this can be part of the motivation a couple needs to seek help.
- It is also important at this stage to focus on self. With the added time available it can be highly beneficial to develop hobbies, go back to school, begin or revisit a career, develop new friendships, etc. When we are well-balanced as an individual, we have more energy, strength and ability to function in a healthier fashion within the marriage.
I hope you and your spouse can find the energy and motivation to refocus on the very important relationship of your marriage and couplehood.