Some parents might look forward to the day when their children are living independently and they are able to reconnect with their spouse, but this can also be a stressful time in a marriage. This newfound time together typically feels very different than time spent together early in the relationship—empty nesters sometimes report feeling that their partner has significantly changed or that they have just drifted apart.
An empty nest doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship, though. If you and your partner are both committed to making your marriage work, there are things that you can do to start reconnecting and bringing romance into your relationship. Strengthening your bond with your partner requires work on both your parts, but it is the type of work that comes with a great reward.
4 Tips for Empty Nesters to Strengthen Their Relationships
Make regular time for activities together—and make that time sacred. As co-parents, many couples with kids find that the majority of their shared time is centered around their children. The family may have dinner together, go on summer vacations, and have weekend outings, but there is a lot less “couple time” than there was early in the relationship. Now that your kids are out of the house, set aside time every week for activities that both you and your partner enjoy. This might mean setting a goal to eat dinner together as often as your schedules allow, going on a weekly date night, or even taking a class together.
Embrace novelty. Studies have shown that participating in a novel activity with your long-term partner can help you rekindle the “spark” you felt when you first started dating. That’s most likely due to the fact that novel activities challenge us to get out of our comfort zone and get us to work closely with our partner as we explore uncharted territory. Talk to your partner about things you’re interested in trying but never have—such as learning a language, taking a cooking class, or traveling outside of the country—and set goals to try some of these new things together.
Be open about how you’re feeling. It’s not unusual for parents to feel sad when their kids have left home, but some parents try to hide this because they want to keep up the appearance that everything is fine. Be honest with your partner if you’ve been feeling down—you might discover that your partner has been feeling similarly, and you will be able to lean on one another for support.
Talk to a marriage counselor. Having your kids leave home is a major milestone, and a major life change. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed and to wonder where your relationship is going next, which is why this is a good time to visit a Houston marriage counselor. A marriage therapist can help you and your partner learn how to better communicate and to find what you want out of your relationship during this new life phase.