I've been told that one of the keys to maintaining a healthy marriage is to keep the conversation going. It's important to chat with one's spouse about things other than the kids, the honey-do list, and how work is going.
When I was studying psychology, I had a class that spent one period talking about the "marriage cycle." Apparently, couples report the least marital satisfaction and are most likely to split up either when the first kid hits toddlerhood or when the kids start to leave the nest. Early parenthood is hard, so that first stat made sense. The story behind the second stat was a little more complicated.
Couples spend a good twenty years focusing on the family and work. When the kids move out, the meat of the parents' relationship is no longer a day-to-day reality. Suddenly, mom and dad are husband and wife again and they need something to talk about. It's far too easy to ignore your marital relationship when there are kids around. And I think that goes double in dual-income households, where each parent has their own life outside the home and away from each other.
As a housewife, I spend my days consumed by managing the household and raising children. My husband is focused on work. The day-to-day overlap is lacking. So I've made it part of my job to find conversation topics. DH and I both enjoy following scientific discoveries, learning about history, and learning about other cultures. We also enjoy studying our faith. So I make a point of spending a little time every day keeping up with new discoveries or reading things that broaden my horizons--sometimes it's just my daily Bible reading. And I make a point of talking to DH about what I read.
DH sometimes jokes that our home is my house--he just lives there. From that perspective, I am his hostess, and as a gracious hostess, I need to engage DH in enjoyable conversation that can distract him from the cares of his day without burdening him with the cares of mine (although we do talk about our day, too). Being that kind of hostess on a daily basis takes research, and it's research well worth doing.
This post has been linked with Works for me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family and Welcome Home at Raising Arrows.