What Happens to Your Marriage When the Kids Move Out?

Mature aged couple

When your marriage has been so focused on raising children for 20+ years, what happens when you and your spouse suddenly find yourself empty nesters? How do you reshape your marriage? And ultimately reconnect in a new, more intimate way in this new season of life?

Dave and Ashley Willis, who are currently raising four sons, spoke with Robbo and Becci on Rise & Shine about transitioning your marriage into this next phase, and ensuring that you make your marriage a priority while you’re in the midst of raising kids.

“It’s an exciting season to be in. When you get to that place, celebrate the fact that it’s exciting,” Dave begins. “I think the fact that people experience a whole range of emotions about it, and even some grieving when the kids move on. But really the main emotion should be one of excitement.”

“We’ve crossed an important finish line and our kids have taken flight, and we’ll love them forever of course – but now we really get to focus in on our relationship like we haven’t been able to do in years. Make the most of that!”

“Plan new adventures together, dream new dreams together,” Dave encourages. “Don’t just get stuck in auto-pilot, but really sit down together, go on walks together. Go out and experience things together and talk about ‘what do we want the next year, the next 5 years, the next 10 years to look like?’”

“What are some things we can do with the time now? What are some places we’ve never been that we can finally go? And enjoy it.”

Dave and Ashley Willis with family
Dave and Ashley Willis with their four sons. (Photo credit: daveandashleywillis.com)

“Some people are nervous about it,” Ashely shares. “I was actually going on a walk with one of my dear friends the other day and she has two that have flown the nest, and her son is getting ready to leave the house too.”

“She has a great marriage but she said ‘There’s this little bit of this fear of what it’s going to look like’. If you’re in that same situation, and you’re having that fear, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed. It’s a normal feeling to have. It’s fear of the unknown. You’re not sure what things are going to look like. You’ve always had kids underfoot and in your house and you’ve had to take them everywhere. And now all of sudden, you don’t know what to do with that time.”

Continue listening to Dave and Ashley share practical advice on what you should do in the audio clip below.

Tune into Rise & Shine weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times.

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