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Q. I am a big guy who had a medical procedure done this summer and it was a wake-up call for me to make changes. So far I have lost almost 20 pounds and have built exercise into my routine, along with quitting smoking. My girlfriend seems crabby about the changes, complaining that I am no “fun” because I don’t stick to the same old couch/junk food routines.
I can understand her being crabby about losing her partner in Frito-buying, but does she truly understand the bigger implications of the changes you’re trying to make? Does she value your goals, and support you in wanting to improve your health and life expectancy? If she’s not on board with the big stuff, then her resentment about the little stuff will fester, because she’ll only see the negatives and not their payoff. It’s possible she feels anxious or threatened, too — perhaps she worries that your new lifestyle accentuates her own health or weight challenges. Or maybe it makes her scared you’ll leave her or become someone else entirely — or there’s a smidge of sanctimony on your part. Whatever it is, you’ve got to have a real conversation about this, or the crabbiness will continue.
The empty-nest thing? It just hit.
Q. Our last child just left for college, and though it didn’t hit me badly with the other two, I am now feeling a little lost, and my husband doesn’t seem affected at all, so it is causing a bit of a disconnect. Most of my friends have already passed this empty-nest stage and say it’s all about finding hobbies, but I’m not even there yet.
It’s OK to not be there yet. (Has your kid even unpacked the shower shoes?) Your reaction is human, and it helps give meaning to this transition. And it will pass, but these feelings don’t deserve to be stuffed or rushed in the meantime. So, feel them and let them illuminate what’s aching most. Is it that you don’t feel needed? That you miss certain aspects of their personalities, or are unsure of what the future will look like at the dinner table with only your husband (perhaps adding to the disconnect you feel with him)? View this as an opportunity to redefine your life on your own terms. Yes, this may eventually involve hobbies, new or old, but it’s important that you view them less as a way to avoid your feelings and more as something that can bring new structure to your days and a new sense of purpose — and get you thinking.
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