Here is an interesting idea I read recently in a psychology magazine: what if couples would go to see a marriage counselor for an annual marriage “check-up” similar to our annual physical exam?
Do you think we would have more satisfying, stronger marriages if we went in regularly for a little “fine tuning”? It could play out like this:
A couple could think about the past year, where they have been, what they have done, how they felt. They could come up with a satisfaction scale (score from 1 to 10) that considers an overall “happy” score, a score for the difficulties in the past year and a score for “how we coped with the toughies (or how they handled the difficult times). The couple could then take these scores and work together to come up with an overall score they can both agree on.
This would be sort of like lab results which they could take to their “check-up” session with a couple’s counselor. The counselor could give feedback, support and preventive “marriage” health advice. Do you think doing this each year, say on or near your anniversary might help to strengthen the bonds of your marriage?
The graduation hugs and well wishes are showered on young people as they head off into a new future and independent (semi?) life. Parents sit back, catch their breath and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Somewhere in these moments, many parents realize that their active role as a parent is fading, and a new definition of self is emerging to take its place. As with all changes in life, and our general human tendency to resist change, we often sit in a time that is uncomfortable and full of uncertainty. If approached with vision and clear thinking, this can be a fantastic time of personal growth.
Here are some steps you can take to help reacquaint yourself to who you are (in case it got lost in the mommy or daddy shuffle) to optimize growth, and to clarify the direction for your future.
First, it is helpful to create a ritual that formally honors the change you are going through. This can be something simple, or more elaborate (we have wonderful graduation parties for our children, how about a get together with other soon-to-be empty nesters)? This can be a great way to reinforce those connections with adults who you always wanted to get to know a little better, but really only had time to talk to in between kids soccer games.
Or, maybe a more introspective ritual would help, such as putting together a hopes and dreams scrapbook, with all your thoughts and wishes for your future, or writing your thoughts in a journal.
For those who are action minded, you can take up that hobby you always wanted to try, or perhaps climb your first Colorado fourteener!
Whatever you chose, honoring this life change, allowing a few tears and reminisces, and then face squarely ahead to the future.
As a wise parent once told me, “The world is your oyster, go search for the pearl”!
May is National Mental Health month. The focus this month is “Do more for 1 in 4” (referring to the estimated number of American adults who will have a diagnosible and treatable mental health condition each year) and the focus of “Healing Trauma’s Invisible Wounds” (with information on trauma and treatment).
Visit http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/may for more information!
To everyone at this special time, remember to smile, notice this moment, count your blessings and love each other. Be kind to all and most of all be gentle and kind to yourself! All the best and as tiny Tim said “God bless us everyone!”
A Grateful Heart soothes the Soul! Best wishes to all for a peaceful, blessed Thanksgiving!