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."
- Children do have a negative effect on previously happy relationships. Sad to say--but it's the truth. Several studies have shown how marital bliss can plummet after the first child arrives. It's not exactly rocket science--you're tired--there's lots of extra work--there's no time for couple-bonding--and there are lots of extra expenses.
- Women do most of the work. Sorry guys, it's true. After children, housework increases three times more for women than it does for men--and studies back this up. Go argue with the Center on Population, Gender and Social Equality at the University of Maryland.
Lesson here: Happy wife, happy life! Everyone has their preferred area of interest & expertise when it comes to household chores. I don't do lawns, cars or mousetraps. My husband's not great at food prep or bed-making. Just divide up the duties to be fair to everyone. And no fair assuming a stay-at-home mom (or dad) will do it all! Everyone needs their own alone time to recharge--free of children, spouse, and work.
- It's important to carve out stress-free couple time together without children and interruptions. The Berkeley "empty nest study" concluded that marriages improve after the kids leave mostly because:
Lesson here: Parents need to find a way to spend more stress-free uninterrupted time together. You know, like a regular date night?
Yesterday morning when I read my online New York Times, I headed straight for my quick-fix of Tara Parker-Pope's Well Blog. As soon as I read her abbreviated blog version, "Happier Couples in an Empty Nest", I just had to throw in my two cents. Here's what I wrote:
Love Mike #3’s old saying:
The joke is, “The happiest day in your life is when your first child is born.” The 2nd happiest is when the last one leaves.
Look—I wouldn’t have missed the nesting years for anything–and I’m anxiously looking forward to my first grandchild.
But…are you kidding?
Who would miss rushing home from work…to drive to indoor soccer practice in a pelting snow storm, making sure everyone religiously got to religious school, making sure everyone got going in the morning, did their homework, filling out umpteen school forms, cooking for different tastes, and just generally worrying & shepherding children into caring, healthy, responsible, intelligent adults.
Whew! It was the hardest job I every had. Not to mention, caring for
ill parents at the same time. I wouldn’t have traded the years for
anything. But as the kids say…
Been there, done that!
The empty nest years—it’s almost as much fun as being back in college–without the homework! Especially if you have a spouse or partner and friends you enjoy spending time with.
Oh yeah, you still worry about the grown-up kids. And to that, I say–read this–it really helps!
The Best Advice You Can Ever Give Your Grown-Up Kids:
We just celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary in December–and perhaps some of you other empty-nesters out there could relate to my:
Secrets of a Good Marriage–Luck, the 5-1 Ratio & Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day
OK, Dear Readers. Anyone else want to weigh in on the "Empty Nest Syndrome"? Or do you have any sage advice to offer those who have new nests?