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How happy is your empty nest?

By January 21, 2009 - 10:31am
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We are very familiar with the Empty Nest Syndrome. It has been described as a time of difficulty, when parents who have spent a couple of decades

raising their children now deal with an empty household.

When a home has revolved around and cared for the needs of children for that long, how do Mom and Dad adjust?

Quite well, actually, says a New York Times story on this time of transition. From the story:

"But a growing body of research suggests that the phenomenon has been misunderstood. While most parents clearly miss children who have left home for college, jobs or marriage, they also enjoy the greater freedom and relaxed responsibility.

"And despite the common worry that long-married couples will find themselves with nothing in common, the new research, published in November in the journal Psychological Science, shows that marital satisfaction actually improves when the children finally take their exits.

"“It’s not like their lives were miserable,” said Sara Melissa Gorchoff, a specialist in adult relationships at the University of California, Berkeley. “Parents were happy with their kids. It’s just that their marriages got better when they left home.”"

The research takes into the very real effect of having children in the home. While they bring parents great joy, they also bring great emotional and financial challenges. Couples have less alone time; one parent may choose to stay home to care for the children, which changes the couple's dynamic; and women take over the lion's share of household duties, which creates a lot of marital conflict. When the kids leave the home, many of those challenges leave with them.

Here's a link to the story; it also links to the research involved:


What's your experience? Do you have an empty or almost-empty nest?

Add a Comment2 Comments

Well, I've been anxiously awaiting the day when "empty nest" really means that. Our younger son has been moving in and out, according to his college schedule, for years. It's so convenient for him, not so for DH and me. Just when I have things in my house as I want them, the son invades with his furniture and stuff, announcing HE has decided to stay here for whatever period of time.

Frankly, I'm tired of this routine. My mother is moving in with us in the next couple of months and I haven't had the chance to enjoy an empty house.

Guess I'll just have to move out, LOL!

January 21, 2009 - 5:14pm

I read this story and found it very interesting and very hopeful for a lot of couples who may be dreading that time when their kids take off and how it will affect their marriage.

January 21, 2009 - 1:04pm
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