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Rekindling Your Marriage As Empty Nesters

Dear CMR,

As my wife and I are getting older, and our children are leaving the nest, what are some recreational things we can do to reconnect with each other?

Empty Nest and Ready to Go!

Dear Ready to Go,

If your children are leaving the nest, that probably means you have been married for a while and maybe grown a little bit stale in recognizing what each other’s dreams are. This is a great time to find out a little bit more about what makes your partner tick. What encourages them or excites them? We recommend you ask your spouse, ”If you could do anything or if you had free weekend, what would you choose to do?” And then figure out a way to make it happen.

C.S. Lewis says, "Friends look in the same direction." So, we suggest looking for things you both might like to do together, or perhaps cultivating an appreciation for something your spouse really enjoys. In other words, you say, “Let's find either something brand new that we both care about, or I'm going to cultivate an appreciation for what I know you care about.” That kind of reciprocation can actually be pretty fun. Or if it's not exactly what you would like to do, equally compromise to find a workable solution or be willing to take turns doing something the other enjoys doing.

Research shows that couples that engage in new activities together report greater levels of marital happiness. So be adventuresome. The community center where you live may offer those two day/one night weekend trips or everything from line dancing to fencing. Remember, you are not committing to this new activity forever and ever, amen. But at least be willing to go out and try something new. Feed that adventuresome spirit! Try a different activity, and then if you need to you can mark it off your list very quickly to say, “OK I did not like scuba diving with sharks...”

It can be energizing to a relationship to try new activities and explore new locations to repeat some favorite things you already enjoy doing. The goal is to get out of the rut and spice things up by introducing something new and fun to your recreational repertoire. And now that the kids are gone, perhaps you have the time, freedom and money to do it. So go do it!