On Empty Nest Syndrome
Marla Watkins* of Scottsdale, Arizona sat down with www.wdxcyber.com for coffee and some frank talk on a variety of topics: menopause, male menopause, divorce, and empty nest syndrome. Marla brushed her long wavy brown hair away from her face to sip at the hot brew as she considered what she wanted to say. The attractive 50 something woman not only had insight to share, but also asked some important questions about men's reactions to their menopausal wives as well. Sociologists would do well to study the subject and try to provide society at large with some answers.
All Mixed Up
"It's really difficult at this point in time, at least for me, to know whether some of the things I have experienced, when my children were grown and out of the house at the same time that I was going into menopause, were due to the lack of the additional responsibilities at home or caused by the changes in my body. I went through a divorce at the same time, which I initiated, and the emotional and physical freedom post-divorce, is all mixed up in the beginnings of menopause.
I have a number of friends who were divorced at about the same age which I guess is not unusual since many people tie divorce at that point to the last child out of the house and empty nest. I wonder how many of these decisions were actually initiated because of internal changes rather than external.
I don't know - one of the questions that my present husband Richard* asked when we started seeing each other, before we even really knew each other was whether I was menopausal - to him that meant freedom from extreme mood swings. My ex-husband, on the other, hand, 4 years earlier, at our 25th (and last) anniversary dinner, asked whether I would consider having another child. The year after our divorce was final, he married a 23 year old and a year later they had twins. A year after that they were divorced.
Six years later, he is now dating a woman his own age. Is the "male menopause" mid-life crisis, which is driven by a search for youth or fast cars or other self-indulgent toys, a response to changes at home which they don't understand, rather than going with the flow (so to speak)? Is their wife's aging process making them realize that they are getting old rather than that they no longer like her? Is a woman's dissatisfaction with the status quo at home a reaction to being left alone with her spouse for the first time in many years, or that she is finally free, after the last child has left, to extricate herself from a relationship which has not been satisfying, or which has been abusive, when in previous years she felt tied to it because of financial issues or legal issues and responsibilities?"
*Names have been changed