Empty Nest Not So Bad After All

Filed under: Empty Nest

You've heard of "empty nest syndrome." While not an actual medical condition, empty nest occurs when one's children leave the home, mostly to go to college or to seek their fortune in the world.

Women are said to be particularly affected by empty nest syndrome. Increasingly, though, researchers are concluding that the empty nest can be a good thing.

Once the children leave the house, for example, spouses have more time for each other, They also get to focus on themselves, as well as assume less responsibility. Enter greater relaxation.

Some research, posted in the journal Psychological Science, suggests that couples enjoy more marital satisfaction after the kids move out.

Additionally, a study of 185 men and women published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing concluded that marital satisfaction starts to decline with pregnancy, and increases once the baby arrives. Other studies have noted that couples with more than one child scored seven points lower in terms of marital satisfaction than those with only one child -- despite the fact that babies do bring couples happiness.

This makes sense -- once you have a child you have less time for each other. Multiply that by the number of kids you have and you could have one of those relationships where you feel more like ships passing in the night than a married couple.

On this cusp of the Valentine's Day season, here's a suggestion. Take the time, even if there's only a little of it to go around, to spend with each other. Take that romantic vacation for two you've been dreaming of. Eat dinner out with just the two of you for a change -- even if it means hiring a sitter or calling in the grandparents to help out.

Do things as a couple, as you did before children, as often as possible. The happier the marriage, the better for the family. In other words, what's good for the goose is good for the gander and the goslings, too.

When your kids are gone, even if it's for a sleep-over, do you try to reestablish yoruselves as a couple? Do you feel, "Ahh, now there's finally a little time for just the two of us?"

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.