19: Adding Spark and Joy to Marriage after your Kids Go

Want to jump-start romance and joy in your Empty Nest Marriage?

Elizabeth Rubin is a psychotherapist who helps couples keep love and passion in marriage. She’s also on the clinical faculty at the Yale school of Medicine and advises students at Timothy Dwight Residential college. Elizabeth practices what she preaches: She’s been happily married to Dr. Richard Rubin, a psychiatrist, for close to 50 years. That’s a lot of know-how about romance in one household!

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What’s the Rubins’ secret for keeping good energy and passion in their marriage? The Argentine Tango! Tune in to hear all about it!

Elizabeth has great tips to help your marriage thrive. And she’s big on the F-Word—How to keep F-U-N in your marriage! In our busy lives, we forget to take time out for fun, a key ingredient in love and life.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:
• Don’t move in lockstep with your spouse! Too much closeness can strain a marriage. You really need to maintain your own interests. That renews the union and makes you more interesting to your other half. Don’t be glued at the hip!
• Avoid a Kid-Centric marriage: These days many parents focus most of their family energy on the next generation, not their spouse. When you do that, you have no time to be a couple.
• When you go out with your spouse, talk about something other than the kids!
• Suffocation of a spouse is a key reason for gray divorce, the boom in post age 50 marital splits. Yup, people in midlife have the highest divorce rate these days.
• We are expecting far too much from a spouse these days. We want our other half to be a career adviser, soul mate, romantic partner, and the list goes on and on. That’s simply too much to expect from just one person. As a culture, we have come to expect there will be passion and intellectual interest and fun and excitement, and when our partner falls short of the impossible, we bail out.
• When many people get to a certain age, they flee from change. They don’t work on their relationship. Then one person says, “Wait a minute! This isn’t working for me!”
• You need to be able to “stand on your own two feet” and have your own friends and activities. You need to be comfortable in your own skin!
• Dependence is definitely not sexy. “It gets heavy,” Elizabeth says. “It becomes boring. Human beings are drawn to novelty and energy and positive energy. It’s amazing to see that in our partner!
• A necessary ingredient of people who grow and learn and have spark is courage and risk-taking, and I don’t mean crazy risk-taking. You’ve got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, pushing yourself out of your groove! Move toward your dreams!
• Engage in the world! Be curious! Don’t get stuck in the same groove.
• Find fun! You might join a hiking club, take up cross country skiing, join a book club. You might audit a class. Fun comes in many flavors depending on what makes you tick. You might want to volunteer in your community in a way that gives back.
• The very best body or banishing your wrinkles is not what makes you sexy to your spouse. It’s engagement, commitment and curiosity.
• Have FUN together! It’s not about busting your budget and going to Paris. It’s about being imaginative and open to your partner rather than resisting what they suggest. Be curious and go outside the box!