The Millennial generation is that often talked about and hated group of “young” people born between 1980 – 2000 (this time period changes depending on the research). They are currently college aged through mid-30’s and make up over half of the work force and 27% of the married couples in the US.(n1) They have been putting off marriage longer than previous generations and amazing counselors observe that Millennials actually care about marriage.
Boomers, Gray Divorce and Empty Nesting
Research has shown that in 1990 fewer than 1 in 10 individuals who divorced were 50 or older. Now, that number has jumped to 1 in 4, accounting for more than 600,000 divorces in 2009.(n2) This change comes along with the “no fault” divorce becoming essentially ubiquitous. These changes have led researchers to call the phenomenon “Gray Divorce”. They are finding that as the Boomer generation has entered the empty nest years, that period of time after all children have left the home, married couples struggle to adjust to the challenges it presents and so are opting for an increasing number of “no fault” divorce.
As researchers have investigated why these couples have chosen to divorce after 50, there are some common themes that have emerged:
- Isolation – One or both partners report feeling alone in their relationship once their children have left. Some describe it as living two separate lives together.
- Personal Struggles – With physical, social and emotional changes happening rapidly in the later years for many people, new personal challenges emerge. Once the empty nest time period emerges, one or both partners just can’t cope with all of the struggles.
- Strangers – Couples report not knowing the person they had lived with for 2 plus decades. When the empty nest time comes, they look at their partner and don’t really like them.
3 Simple Steps
Here at #RandomDads we believe ol’ Ben Franklin had it right when he advised, “An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We typically don’t take uncle Ben’s advice when it comes to our projects but we listen up when it comes to our marriages. So we talked with other random dads who are empty nesting or already empty nested to get their wisdom. We found 3 simple steps that those young bucks, Millennials, can do to make sure your marriage is great when you hit the empty nest.
- Argue – There is no intimacy without conflict. So you got to learn to fight well and fight early in your marriage. From bathroom etiquette to bedroom antics, you and your spouse have differences that you need to openly confront, argue about and come to a resolution. The more you can do early on means you’ll just be a seasoned pro when the nest is empty.
- Fail – Learning to cope with personal failure with a person is hard. But failing early will give you practice in copeing when life hands the crap storm of personal issues that come with aging. So fail young, fail forward, and keep going.
- Creep – It’s cool to creep on your spouse. Not in Cheaters fashion but more in a Kevin and Winnie, Wonder Years way. The continual curiosity in marriage will pay off in the long run because you’ll begin to see how your spouse and you change over the years, new interests, changing tastes in food and entertainment, and the list can go on. When the empty nest comes, you’ll have a hard drive full of memories of what your spouse liked which become fun conversations and adventures in the empty nest years.
So what are your tips for prepping for the empty nest, random peeps? Let us know in the comments below.