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How to Keep a Marriage Strong After the Kids Leave for College

by Eliza Martinez, studioD

Having kids at home requires your time and attention, and you still have to make time for your spouse to keep that relationship healthy. But with an empty nest, you now have the time to focus on your marriage, and having fun together is easier now without extra people to take into consideration. It might take a bit of effort in the beginning, but empty nesters report higher marital satisfaction after their kids move out, according to University of California, Berkeley, researchers who published their results in the November 2008 issue of "Psychological Science."

Talk to each other every day. Make the effort to set aside time each day to talk to one another while you share a meal, suggests relationship therapist, Dr. Terri Orbuch in the Huffington Post. You might find it hard to get started without the chaos of kids, but making the effort to have daily conversations keeps you connected.

Find common interests. It's not unusual for married couples to drift apart during the child rearing years, notes David H. Arp, co-author of "Fighting for Your Empty Nest Marriage." Once your kids leave home, seek out activities you both enjoy so you have something to share. This could be a cooking or dancing class or lessons to learn how to play tennis or golf. It might mean hiking on the weekends or trying new restaurants after work.

Make new friends. Chances are that you know several couples who are also empty nesters, but if not, you can seek them out through friendship websites or by asking other friends to introduce you. Having a support system of married couples experiencing the same issues you are gives you someone who understands what you're going through. At the same time, you'll have people to spend time with, which is enjoyable and easier to do when you don't have kids at home anymore.

Spend more time together. Without kids at home, you no longer have to divide and conquer when it comes to finishing errands and shuttling the kids around to their various activities. This means you can grocery shop, hit the mall or go to the home improvement store together. It might seem boring, but these shared chores can bring you closer together and give you more time to be with each other.

Plan a standing date night. This might have been a priority when you had kids, but it remains so after your children leave home. Choose a night when you'll go to the movies, have dinner at a restaurant or browse the library together. Not only does this give you something to look forward to, but it means at least one opportunity each week to spend quality time together.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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