The empty nest syndrome occurs when a husband and wife no longer have children living at home. It can represent a milestone in their relationship and in each of their lives.


Impacts on the couple:

(1) If the parents have been in conflict and staying together “because of the children”, then this may trigger divorce or separation (relationship destruction).

(2) Opportunity to travel and do things together without the children (relationship building).

(3) Discussion of downsizing the home and planning for retirement.

(4) There may be a midlife crisis for the husband and/or wife. The timing may overlap with the woman becoming postmenopausal.

(5) The woman may decide to start working or to work more (career change).

(6) A change in relationships with others, especially with parents of other children.


Other factors to consider:

(1) the number of children and the relationships with the parents

(2) where the grown children are living, including living at home

(3) whether there are grandchildren and the role of the couple in their care

(4) culture

(5) coping strategies (alcohol or drug misuse)

(6) situation of their parents


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