The Couple of Things

David Writes

I was recently interviewed for a magazine article about empty nesting from the Dad’s point of view.

The author was familiar with and our philosophy that this should be a time in our lives when we are celebrating and living to the fullest.

That made it easy to talk through the subject matter. As usual, I was happy to add my two cents.

Most of the questions involved the logistics of pulling off our GypsyNester lifestyle, things like selling the house, making an income, traveling and the like.

But one question completely caught me by surprise.

The reporter asked me how Veronica and I get along now that the kids are moved out. Swimmingly was my reply — we really do — but that got me thinking about why.

Visiting Veronica’s brother a few days later, he asked, while taking in our lifestyle, “Where to you go to fight?” We both said that we don’t really fight that much anymore and so again, I’m thinking WHY?

Many couples find that when the chicks flee the nest, they don’t have anything in common anymore. After spending decades of living for work or the kids, they have lost track of the things that made them a couple.

With our previous lifestyle, me on the road playing music and Veronica being the quintessential helicopter mom, we could have easily followed that path. As the chicks flew the nest one by one, we made an effort to remember why we got married in the first place. There had to be a reason, right?

With that in mind, we made sure to spend time alone together and talk about the approaching empty nest era. That way there wouldn’t be a now what? moment when The Boy went off to college.

We spend virtually all of our time together these days, maybe we’re making up for the early years of our marriage when I was on the road 250 – 300 days a year. Back then, we certainly didn’t have time to get sick of each other. We were always either reuniting or bidding farewell and I think it helped keep the romance alive.

We also had to develop a deep abiding trust in each other or our marriage would never have survived. I saw many a relationship fall apart while I was out there, almost always from one of the partners betraying the other while they were apart. By betraying of course I mean cheating, screwing around, having an affair, pulling Tiger’s tail…you get the picture.

If we hadn’t fully believed that the other would never, ever do that, we wouldn’t be here now. The doubt would have eaten away at our marriage until there was nothing left.

Veronica had ample opportunities to let doubt in, she’s no dummy and she knew the temptations are out there every night for musicians out on the road. I had also seen it, but less often, go the other way with the wife back home finding some one on the side. While the cat’s away sort of thing.

Early in our marriage we came to the understanding that it was right to expect each other to live up to the same standards. In other words, if I couldn’t accept her cheating while I was away, how could I possibly justify doing it myself and vise versa. Once we put it into these “do unto others” terms we had very few problems with this issue.

Life being life, we certainly found other stuff to fight about, but as we got older it happened less and less until now, we just don’t fight that much anymore. It’s not like we have some big agreement not to, more than anything I think we’ve just come to realize that it isn’t worth it.

There’s simply nothing going on in our lives that merits getting all worked up over. Certainly not worth hurting each other.

That was probably always true. Were any of the reasons for our spats really worth the anger? I don’t think so now, but that’s easy to say with 20/20 hindsight.

One thing I do know for sure, the dish breaking, door slamming, top of the lung yelling, alarm clock throwing (one of Veronica’s early day tension-breaking favorites, complete with whipping it around with the cord) battles are for young whippersnappers.

Nowadays we try to skip straight to the making up part.


YOUR TURN: You’ve read my story – what’s YOURS? How has your relationship changed – fighting-wise? Have we mellowed with age or do you think it’s a learning process?

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21 thoughts on “The Couple of Things”

  1. Having been with my husband for 30 years, my question wasn’t how you have stayed together but how can you afford the lifestyle? Staying together is the easy part, traveling is expensive.

  2. It’s great to see that you’ve grow closer to each other now that travel and the post-family raising era is upon you … so many of these marriages just crumble as you brought up…

  3. Tom and I LOVE our empty nest and also hardly fight at all; unlike when we were young! We spend all the time together and luckily, we really like each other. He can make me laugh more than anybody I know. And that’s pretty damn important.

  4. Lovely!!!!! You have taken keen steps to keep your marriage intact and definitely your experience is helping others as i can see it from the comments which have followed.

  5. I write a blog called Retire in Style Blog. ( It is all about retirement and living (surviving) in small spaces. I love your blog. I have a link to you in my sidebar. 🙂

    This business about fighting is very interesting. Congratulation!!! We on the other hand still fight, pout and act like children. It drives me nuts. But we are married 51 years so I guess we are going to make it.

    Be well and keep having fun.


  6. What a great story and so true. It took me back to the day when I was engaged to a musian. Yes, the cheating went on, not by me and the engagement was broken off,by me of course. Anyway you gave a wonderful example of what trust and true love really is.

  7. My husband and I have an awesome marriage, mostly because he is so patient and fun. It’s so encouraging to hear of your journey and love that has stood the test of time–not just surviving but thriving. You are helping us look forward to the empty-nest years, to the time we can enjoy more adventures with our best friend!

    Blessings and keep up the fun, informative, encouraging posts!

    Chana K.

    1. Glad to have you along for the ride Chana. Hopefully by the time your chicks have flown we’ll have filled you in on all of our stupid mistakes – then YOU won’t have to make them! -David

  8. Good one, David. You guys sound like unselfish types. That helps. I think most of the tension in our marriage over the years is related to selfishness. Or pride.

    It’s cool to hear how trust was so foundational in the early years. And even cooler to hear the smoothness of these empty-nest years.

    Love the picture you’re painting for us. Keep going!

  9. I love this so very much. I’m glad you found me via Twitter so that I could have the pleasure of reading your blog. I think many of the issues you touch on here (mainly the whole trust debate) can be applied to couples everywhere, though I imagine they take on a whole new meaning for empty nesters.

    My parents have been empty nesters for a few years now and it’s so nice to see them settle in nicely to a routine. I’ve also noticed they fight far less frequently and they’re much kinder to each other. I’ve often wondered how they made their marriage survive all these years, and I think this post sheds light on the dynamic that exists in their marriage as well.

    Thank you for this 🙂

  10. said…

    No matter how good or long the marriage this is a challenge. It is a wonderful time but takes adjusting to. I tell folks we haven’t had time to talk for 35 years and now we really can get to know each other.

  11. I would have to say yes. We no longer fight about “the kids, as we had completely different parenting styles. Our kids are each starting their own families…they are finally realizing to difficult art of balance.

  12. Since Dave and I are each others’ second time around, we have literally ALWAYS had kids since we were together. So as our empty-nest-hood approaches, we have been talking about the fact that we have never been just a couple.
    While I agree that it is often true that having kids gives you a common ground and once they’re gone the potential exists to look at your spouse and wonder who they are as a person instead of a parent. But I also think that many of our disagreements center around the kids. Discipline decisions, curfews, how much (or little) assitance to offer, etc. So I see the potential for smoother sailing ahead.
    And I am SO ready to see who this person is that I married 17 years ago. As a partner, not just a parent. No doubt I’ll be sad to see the last one leave, but there’ll be a twinkle in the eye once the last tear is shed.

  13. Our situation is very similar to yours. It is nice to know that we are on the right track to nesting happily together when the time comes! =D

  14. It’s so nice to hear how you’ve made that special effort it takes to keep a marriage alive and well. You two make me very proud you’re part of our family

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