► “We are obliged to team up”
Anne-Sophie and Stéphane, Both 52 years old, 5 children from 16 to 27 years old
Him: “Three of our children have left the nest. We have a 22 year old son at home with a disability and a 16 year old daughter. The departure of the elders was a passage. We were very happy that everyone found their way, we all needed oxygen. I realized that our children are not our whole life. It was a shock to me. I knew it intellectually, but I ignored it in my heart. We also feel aging, we tire. Our challenge is to find a solution for our adult son who is not independent. When one of us lowers our arms, the other supports him. We have to team up. “
She: “As a couple, we meet face-to-face, on a more regular basis. The departure of the children took a toll on us. We had some difficulties. Four years ago, we were lucky to have been caught up in the Cana movement of the Chemin-Neuf Community, which allowed us to find a new lease of life. We then made small decisions, like setting up weekly dates reserved for both of us.
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When the children were small, we made sure to spend a week a year together. Then it became complicated to entrust our growing son. Being parents of a disabled child forces us to take time together to reread difficult times. On Saturday morning, we go for a bike ride, a run, a walk. And then we chat over coffee, in a setting other than home. The children have integrated this ritual. When we do not take this moment alone, it translates into less communion, less tenderness between us. It’s a free time where we are available to each other, we talk about an event remotely, cold, we listen to each other. “
► “Teenagers know how to play on our disagreements”
Benedict, 44 years old, 3 children from 11 to 17 years old
“At the start of their family life, parents are the masters of planning. We meet as a couple around 8 p.m. when the children are in bed. As it is easier to keep them, we can organize romantic weekends. So make real breaks between the moments with and without the little ones. Everything changes in adolescence. Children stay in our hands until 9:30 pm and have a knack for telling us about their existential problems at 9:25 pm They are less dependent on us, but need our presence when they want it. And these are opportunities not to be missed.
We went through difficult times during the first confinement. In the end, I found it hard to put up with the children. Teens know how to play on our disagreements, which leads to arguments. There were big crises with our eldest child who dropped out and rejected our authority. I was on edge. My husband was unaware of the discomfort. It was tense between us.
During a couple’s retreat, after ten years of marriage, we put everything back together, we told each other everything, even hidden things. Since then, we share what we feel. We have set up a ritual. We have a romantic dinner at home on Thursday evening. The children snack on their side, on another floor of the house. And they are delighted. This time for discussion allows us to discuss, to look back on certain past events. “