It's understandable: for years the children have been the glue that binds, as well as a good excuse to deny any problems between you.
When you're bringing up kids you just blast on, day after day. There are few opportunities to stand back and think about your relationship, and before you know it small problems have become the elephant in the room, too big to talk about. Parents need to be able to take something for granted, and it's usually our partner.
Marriage crisis?Then suddenly the kids have gone and one of you - perhaps both of you - thinks, Is that all there is?
It's a crisis for many couples.
But a crisis can be hugely positive, an opportunity for growth, a chance to talk properly, perhaps for the first time in years. And without the kids the romance between you can blossom once again - although the chances are that after all this time it will need a bit of nurturing! There was a feature in The Independent this week about the romance of later-life weddings - in which I talked about my experience of marrying my partner after 37 years together (well, we wanted to be sure …!)
And here are a few tips I've picked up along the way:
How to rekindle the Spark
- Go on holiday. Just the two of you, no friends, no kids.
- Don't give up on sex. If you need a bit of a reminder Sex expert Suzi Godson's site is packed with good advice. So is relationship expert Andrew Marshall's. He's written a great book on keeping sex alive in long-term relationships, Make Love Like a Prairie Vole (prairie voles mate for life!).
- Do something new and challenging together. A bike ride? Ice skating? Tango lessons?
- Root out the old tunes and dance round the kitchen together.
- Suggest outings that are romantic to you - a walk in the moonlight, a concert, a boat on the river.
- Don't just flop in front of the telly every night. Have a game of poker, do the crossword, go to the pub.