Couples Counseling: Dont Let Empty Nest Syndrome Destroy Your Marriage

May 16, 2011 by

Couples counseling can help you work through the feelings of loss and loneliness that parents often experience when children leave the home for good. Though not often cited as a reason for divorce, empty nest syndrome can put a great strain on your marriage. In fact, there has been a steady increase in the number of divorces among long-term married couples after the kids move out. Some couples end up feeling like the children were what kept them together. Others start to feel overwhelmed by too much “togetherness” with their spouse since there are no kids to act as a buffer. Many simply don’t know how to process what is now an uncertain future and undefined daily life.

Couples Counseling Can Save Your Relationship

Empty Nest Syndrome is caused by a fundamental change in your daily life – with no kids to take care of and plan around, all you have to think about is yourself and your spouse. Couples counseling can save your marriage by preparing you for the kinds of emotions you’ll be feeling and giving you the tools you need to work through the hard times together. There will definitely be ups and downs, but the most important thing to always remember is to communicate! Sharing your thoughts and feelings with each other brings empathy and understanding, and that’s what will keep you connected to one another.

Empty Nest Syndrome is, essentially, a feeling of emptiness. Emotionally, of course, but also emptiness in your daily life and schedule. While your children were growing up, you and your spouse probably planned your lives and related to each other mostly through them -- through little league games and school plays, through struggling to pay for braces and college, and through sharing their pain and joy. Now that they’re gone, you feel like you’ve lost the ability to relate to each other.

As a Portland marriage counselor, I work with couples to learn how to talk to each other again. Couples counseling can help you and your spouse plan for what you’d like your future together to hold by talking about your hopes, dreams, and needs. With the kids gone, both of you should realize and accept the fact that marital roles will likely change. See this as a new beginning for your relationship, and get to know each other all over again. Go on dates with each other. Make travel plans. Take a class together – or separately. Sometimes all that time together can cause friction, and it’s okay to want some alone time once in a while. Above all, be understanding, talk to each other, and don’t force yourself or your spouse into anything you’re not both ready for. If you’re having trouble, you can ease the transition by seeking couples counseling.