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“Empty Nest” May Improve Marriage

“Empty Nest” May Improve MarriageA new study dispels the stereotype of empty-nesters, parents whose children have grown up and moved away, as having a sad and lonely life. As reported in Psychological Science, researchers discovered the empty nest may have beneficial effects on the parents’ marriage.

University of California, Berkeley psychologists Sara M. Gorchoff, Oliver P. John and Ravenna Helson tracked the marital satisfaction of a group of women over 18 years, from the time they were in their 40s to when they were in their early 60s.

The results of this study revealed that marital satisfaction increased as the women got older. Marital satisfaction increased for women who stayed with the same partners and for women who remarried.

What was most striking about the results was that women who had made the transition to an empty nest increased more in marital satisfaction than women who still had children at home.

Even more interesting, it was shown that an empty nest does not increase levels of marital satisfaction simply because the parents have more time to spend with each other.

Instead the results suggest that women whose children had left home enjoyed their time with their partners more compared to women whose children were still at home. In other words, it was an increase in the quality, and not the quantity, of time spent together once children moved out, that led to increases in marital satisfaction.

Gorchoff is quick to point out that the results do not suggest that all children should be sent away to boarding school for the sake of their parents’ marriage.

Rather, she notes that “this research does suggest that women should not wait until their children leave home to schedule enjoyable time with their partners.”

Source: American Psychological Association

“Empty Nest” May Improve Marriage

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). “Empty Nest” May Improve Marriage. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/12/04/empty-nest-may-improve-marriage/3446.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.