Empty nesting can introduce many challenges to your marriage. But knowing what to expect when your child leaves home can help smooth the transition and keep your relationship strong.


It’s never easy when a child leaves home.

One day you’re taking a newborn home from the hospital, and the next day you’re witnessing all their “lasts.”

Their last football game, school dance, and piano recital.

Their last late-night study session or game night in your home.

Right before your eyes, your child has become an adult and is ready to “fly the coop.”

To successfully navigate the transition from full-time parent to empty nester with your spouse, it’s important to prioritize your 6 Pillars of Intimacy®.

The Strains of Empty Nesting on Your Marriage

The process of empty nesting is bittersweet.

As your child prepares to go off on their own, you’re proud of who they have become, but you may also grieve the loss of a familiar routine.

As you become an empty nester, you will likely encounter three major strains on your marriage.

Emotional Strain

First, you may experience a strain on your emotional intimacy.

Empty nesting comes with a flood of emotions. You can feel excited, worried, proud, and sad—all at the same time.

Watching your child experience their “lasts” can make you feel sentimental. Memories of your child at all stages of their life can come rushing back.

With so much focus on your child, it’s easy to lose focus on your spouse.

You might feel so worn down from the daily emotional rollercoaster that you have no energy to connect with your spouse.

Financial Strain

Second, you may experience a strain on your financial intimacy.

As your child prepares to set out on their own, you want them to have great experiences. But it all costs money.

You’re paying for things like class rings, college visits, and graduation parties. You may plan a family trip since the opportunity might not come again soon.

Disagreement about how to handle these expenses can create a divide between the two of you.

Sexual Strain 

Third, you may experience a strain on your sexual intimacy.

A busy schedule filled with your child’s activities leaves little time for sexual intimacy.

If you and your spouse are not intentional about scheduling sex, it’s unlikely to happen. Or, since there is so much else on your mind, you may not be fully present when it happens.

Sexual intimacy is also hard to achieve without emotional intimacy.

The heavy emotions you feel when transitioning to an empty nest can make you feel drained of energy. As a result, it can seem difficult to connect with your spouse on an emotional or sexual level.

How to Approach Empty Nesting as a Team

The empty-nesting transition can create cracks in all of your 6 Pillars of Intimacy®, so it is vital to protect your marriage throughout this time.

There are five things to keep in mind as your child leaves home.

1. Be Compassionate with Your Spouse

The two of you may have different reactions to becoming empty nesters. One of you might find it more difficult than the other to adjust to a lifestyle without kids in the house.

Since you are experiencing this transition together, be understanding and gentle with each other.

2. Prioritize Reconnection

Raising a child is hard work. Over the last 18 years, you may have fallen into Roommate Syndrome as you navigated parenthood.

If this sounds like you, it’s time to get to know your spouse again.

Focus on building your emotional intimacy through conversations about your hopes, dreams, and goals in this new phase of life and marriage. Rediscover your spouse through fun dates and deep discussions.

3. Look for the Good

The grief associated with a major life transition like this can feel overwhelming. To move forward, be intentional about finding the good.

What can you do now that your kids have moved out?

Perhaps you can take longer trips or start more time-intensive hobbies. Maybe you’re able to have date nights more often throughout the week or explore new projects as a couple.

Explore how you can grow as individuals and spouses in this new season.

4. Take Care of Yourself

You will grow and change as a person as your identity as a parent changes. On hard days, be gentle with yourself.

It’s essential to prioritize your mental and physical health. During this transition, make sure to exercise, eat well, and socialize with others.

One of the best ways to strengthen your marriage is to take care of yourself and encourage your spouse to do the same.

5. Consider Marriage Coaching

The transition to empty nesters can be hard for many couples.

You might struggle to adjust to your new normal. Or it can feel like your spouse is a total stranger after 18+ years as parents.

If you and your spouse need personal help to improve your marriage during this season, apply for marriage coaching. Marriage coaching can help you identify the steps you can take to strengthen your marriage.

Encouragement for Empty Nesters

If you feel lost trying to navigate this transition, you’re not alone. Start by sharing your thoughts and concerns with your spouse. Walk through this new season as a team.

If you need outside help, consider marriage coaching. The insight of another person can help kick-start change. Don’t be afraid to seek help.

Finally, remember that this is a natural transition, and it’s possible to come out the other side stronger than ever. Prioritize communication with your spouse and cherish the moments with your family as you enter a new season of life.

Watch the video below to rekindle the spark and restore the connection in your marriage today!

In the 6 Pillars of Intimacy®, you will discover secrets that have transformed countless marriages. Its ideas are simple, practical, and powerful. You’ll be inspired to look at your marriage through a new lens and be encouraged by its commonsense approach.

Alisa and Tony DiLorenzo's proven approach to building intimacy in marriage will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your spouse – starting today. Click HERE to get your copy today!

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