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Each year, parents across the country help the last of their young-adult children begin their own journey in life, be it settling into college, moving into an apartment with that first job, or seeing them off to the military. This life phase is commonly called the empty nest period, or the second half of the marriage.

In many ways, the departure of a couple’s children opens the door to looking at their marriage in a new light. Unfortunately, many couples find that during their active parenting years they had less time for each other and have unmet expectations because the majority of their energies were devoted to their children. As a result, their marriage received the “left-overs.” So while many couples seemed to communicate adequately during their active parenting years, once their children are gone, they discover that their communication style does not work. For these couples, they may feel like the light, or intimacy, has faded.

Reconnecting with your spouse can be difficult during the second half of marriage. However, it is vitally important to redevelop interpersonal skills, so that each of you can share your deepest concerns and feelings of joy, rebuild a deeper friendship, and become close companions again. This transitional time can be a rebirth of the marriage if couples are willing to talk through their past marital disappointments and look for solutions or compromises. To accomplish this task, most couples find they have several things to work through.

Empty nesters: Now that the kids are off to college what do we do?
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