by Simon Sim
“Empty Nest” is not “Empti-ness”!
The “empty nest” syndrome refers to the general sense of loss, emptiness and loneliness that many parents feel when their children have grown up, become independent and move out of the home. Spouses, especially the wives, who have not invested time in each other may experience this syndrome more acutely. Sad is the day when the couple discovers only after 20 or 30 years of marriage that their children were the “glue” that held their marriage together! However, this does not necessarily have to be the case.
Whenever we teach at our marriage preparation classes, eager young couples will get to hear my wife cheekily affirming that I subscribe to ‘MAXIM’ (the magazine for men). That is what it sounds like, but it actually is ‘MACSIM’ - Movement Against Children Sleeping In Master-bedroom! She is totally sold on this concept. Keeping a newborn baby in the same room and especially on the same bed as the young parents beyond, say, 6 months is not advisable. Doing so is what we term an ‘insidious’ act - what is seemingly good is actually bad.
A baby should be treated as an ‘alien’ and not to be allowed in the parents’ room as a ‘permanent resident’. He or she can only have the right of a visitor. No more, no less. An exception would be when the child is sick, fearful when there is thunder and lightning – these are the only instances when a ‘visitor’s pass’ can be issued.
When the baby becomes a ‘permanent resident’, the spousal relationship will deteriorate. Couples are less likely to spend time unwinding and telling each other the deeper issues of life simply because they are inappropriate for the little ears. Taking it a step further, physical intimacy and sexual intimacy will also be grossly affected in terms of frequency and intensity.
Safeguarding the marital bed as the exclusive domain of the husband and wife will pay handsome dividends when the empty nest looms near.
By all means give your children roots, but remember that they will need wings to take flight. And they will take flight and will when their time is due.
Just as it takes about 18 years to prepare your children for the world, parents will need these same 18 years to prepare for a world without them. Have the end in mind. Do things other than sharing your marital bed to nurture the bond with your children. Put more effort into nurturing the bond with your spouse.
This article is based on The Family CEO – Building a Happy and Successful Family by Simon Sim who is a licensed solemniser and popular family life educator with a passion to help others build strong relationships with their spouse and family.