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Introducing our new video series, Ask a Therapist

Scraps of paper with question marks printed on them

Happy Mental Health Awareness Month! To celebrate, we’re launching our newest project: a short video series called “Ask a Therapist.” In each episode, therapist.com senior writer Amye Archer sits down with two expert clinicians to pose questions submitted by our audience.

To kick off the series, we dove into the topic of relationships with Tammy Nelson, PhD, author and certified sex therapist, and our Psychotherapy Networker colleague Alicia Muñoz, LPC, author and couples therapist.

Connecting in new ways as empty nesters

What can a longtime married couple do to rekindle their connection after their children leave home? “The empty nest struggle is often one that involves an identity shift,” says Muñoz. Parents shift from juggling kids’ schedules and prioritizing other people’s needs to focusing on themselves. “It’s very disorienting to look around you and say, ‘Who are we now?’” Muñoz notes.

Nelson thinks of this time as a new developmental stage. “I call it ‘second adolescence,’” she says, and points out that it can be especially exciting for your sex life. “You can make noise, you can dress up and role play—you don’t have to have sex as parents anymore,” says Nelson. She does have a word of caution, though: “Whatever you do, don’t get a puppy.”

Weathering the storm of an affair

Our next question came from a couple who’d worked through one partner’s emotional infidelity, only for the other partner to discover that the affair had actually gone further than was originally revealed. Partial disclosure is fairly common in this scenario, says Nelson: “Most people don’t totally disclose the extent of their affair because they’re trying to protect their partner, not because they’re trying to hurt the person.”

Focusing on the root cause of the affair will benefit your relationship more than parsing the details, Nelson explains. “People don’t usually look for another person outside of your relationship, they look to be another person outside of the relationship,” she says. “So I would be really curious as to who your partner became when they were with this other person.”

An avoidance tactic may also be at work, Muñoz says: “You may be trying to keep your partner at a distance and avoid intimacy—and if that’s the case, then it’s worth exploring.” She and Nelson agree that communication is at the heart of moving past infidelity.

Watch the full episode for more

To hear more wisdom on relationships from Muñoz and Nelson, watch the inaugural episode of “Ask a Therapist” below. We’ll be releasing additional episodes with new guest therapists all month long.

If you’d like to submit a question for our guests, follow us on Instagram and send a message. We’d love to hear from you.

Finally, please remember: Our guests are amazing therapists, but they’re not your therapists. “Ask a Therapist” is for educational purposes only.

About the author

The editorial team at therapist.com works with the world’s leading clinical experts to bring you accessible, insightful information about mental health topics and trends.

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