Dogs Save Empty Nesters!
The biggest issue most empty nesters complain about is that there’s no longer anyone to take care of once kids leave home. After our children leave the nest, we realize it was the kids who brought life into the house. So many marriages are centered around kids and their activities, and shortly after graduation, it all abruptly ends. For the first couple of weeks, we love the ability to sleep-in, not cook, do less laundry, and have more privacy. But after that brief honeymoon period, we have too much time on our hands.
When we’ve spent eighteen years caring for others and then suddenly, they’re gone, we can sometimes feel stripped of our purpose. When that happens, the nit-picking and bickering with our spouse can start. Or worse, the deafening silence. By bringing a dog or puppy into the picture, we have someone to care for, and a reason to bond with our spouse again. If you’re experiencing a deep sense of loss since your kids have moved out, or serious marital issues, we recommend counseling. But if you just need to revitalize a little life into your household, then here are 4 ways a dog can help save your marriage!
#1 | Dogs Fill the Void
Once you bring a dog into your home and he knows that you’re his mom, you’ll discover that he’ll be your constant companion. Dogs sit by our side, follow us around, and unlike our kids, actually listen once they’re trained. Dogs are also very much aware of our absence and will always greet our return with enthusiasm. I don’t know about you, but my kids stopped greeting me at the door when they were in grade school. Dogs also bring laughter, comfort and support during those lonely times when you’re both missing your kids.
#2 | Dogs Improve Your Health
Having a dog to care for will improve your overall emotional and mental health, simply by giving you something to focus your attention on. The unconditional love received in return is something you and your spouse both benefit from while you adjust to your empty nest. Scientists at Washington State University discovered that just 10 minutes spent petting a dog can have a significant impact. Study participants had lower blood pressure levels, and improved responses to stress.
Plus, dogs need to exercise. So by default, you’ll be getting exercise as well. Daily walks with your dog will help you stay fit, and promotes quality time with your spouse outside the house and away from the TV. According to the American Kennel Club, when compared to non-pet owners, people with pets generally have reduced obesity, lower blood pressure and improved immunity.
#3 | Dogs Keep Us Social
We’ve established that walking is great for your physical and mental health. But did you know that walking your dog can be a boost to your social life too? People will stop you and your spouse and say hello to your dog, even if they don’t know you. As counterintuitive as it may sound, pets give you opportunities to socialize with other couples. If your empty nest has left you with some holes in your social life, take your spouse and your pup to the dog park or an outdoor café. There’s no sure-fire conversation starter like a cute canine. Even going to the vet gives you opportunities to meet other people. A study at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University concluded that about 40% of dog owners had an easier time making friends than non-pet owners.
#4 | Dogs Help Mix-It-Up
Routines can be dreary after becoming empty nesters. Getting a dog will definitely change the rhythm of your relationship. Instead of waking up to coffee, reading the news and getting ready for work, your pup will demand your attention with walks, feeding and affection. If you both are coming home at night and sitting in front of the TV, your dog will get you up and off your feet for an evening stroll. My husband and I have taken to finding new restaurants with outdoor seating—perfect during these pandemic times—and bringing the dog with us.
How do you know what kind of dog is right for you? Research before you adopt and take the time to think about what you and your spouse are seeking in a companion. Do you both want a snuggly lap dog who will sit with you while you watch Netflix? Will a big dog make you feel safe? How about an active dog to ensure you both get up on your feet? Do you want a puppy or an older, housebroken pet? Once you get on the same page about what your expectations are, you will both revel in the love your new “fur-ever” baby will bring to the nest.
What are some things you and your loved-one do to fill the empty-nest void? Do you already have a fur-baby? We’d love for you to share in the comments below! For more tips on how to bond with your mate, check-out this post.
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