Washington, December 3 : A new study has shown that empty nest, a feeling of loneliness that may hit parents sitting at home, may have beneficial effects on their marriage.
University of California, Berkeley psychologists Sara M. Gorchoff, Oliver P. John and Ravenna Helson came to this conclusion after studying 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.
Writing about their findings in the journal of the Association for Psychological Science, they said that marital satisfaction increased as the women got older.
They also observed that marital satisfaction increased for women who stayed with the same partners, and for those who remarried.
The team were surprised to find that women who had made the transition to an empty nest increased more in marital satisfaction than women who still had children at home.
The researchers also found that an empty nest did not increase levels of marital satisfaction simply because the parents had more time to spend with each other. They instead said that women whose children had left home enjoyed their time with their partners more compared to women whose children were still at home.
According to them, it was an increase in the quality, not the quantity, of time spent together once children moved out that led to increases in marital satisfaction.
Gorchoff cautions that the new findings should not be taken to suggest that all children should be sent away to boarding school for the sake of their parents' marriage.
She instead says that "this research does suggest that women should not wait until their children leave home to schedule enjoyable time with their partners."