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Taking a Look at Empty-Nest Syndrome

A common misconception is that when a couple's children leave home, Mom and Dad will develop empty-nest syndrome. Yes, they may have an empty nest, but for some couples, their love life blossoms during this period of their lives. The victims of the syndrome are the couples whose relationship falls apart when they're the only two left at home.

Empty-nest syndrome takes years to develop. It starts when a couple begins to drift apart but stays together because of the children. Couples like this may appear to have "the perfect marriage," but it's actually a façade, and the only level on which they connect involves their children. They most likely aren't having sex. All of their conversations revolve around the children, as do many of their activities together. When that connection disappears because their children have set off on their own, they are left with an empty relationship. More often than not, anger takes the place of the emotions they spent on the children, and such couples divide their time between not talking and fighting.

Couples facing this issue might choose to stay together, but they could be better off separated. Often, too much damage has been done to their relationship for it to be repaired. And as for a sex life, the likelihood is very, very small, unless the motivation is only for their own satisfaction. But as far as "making love," the chances are even more remote.

If two people have spent little time interacting outside of activities involving their children, have become completely bored with each other, or have been torn apart by addictive behavior, then they are undoubtedly going to suffer from empty-nest syndrome. But if a couple can recognize these traps, they can take the necessary steps to repair their relationship so as to avoid becoming victims of this syndrome.

Is there any hope for a couple affected by empty-nest syndrome? Yes, but only if both partners really have the will to overcome the distance between themselves. Usually at this point they resent almost everything about their partner. Overcoming such a hurdle is difficult. One suggestion is for them to take an extended vacation and see if they can rediscover the love they first had for each other. If they can light a small spark, they may have a chance. But if all they do is fight the whole time they're on vacation, then rather than waste time in a relationship that's going nowhere, they may as well split up and begin a new phase of their lives.

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