The Empty Nest Through a Husband’s Eyes

The Empty Nest Through a Husband's Eyes -

Empty nest syndrome.

Judging from what I see online, these three words are almost exclusively associated with mothers, but the adjustments involved are felt by every member of the family.

Daddies miss their children too, and our newly minted adults can go through difficult adaptations while making the transition into the brave new world of personal responsibility as well.

Yet, as with everything else involving marriage and parenting, we’ve charged headlong into this new challenge without an instruction manual.

Now that I’ve had a few years to adjust to this phase of life, I feel that I can look back and offer some helpful nuggets of wisdom, especially pertaining to the couple that was married decades ago.

Without a doubt, raising kids changed our relationship — likely for the better — but with that behind us, the time had come to do a little rekindling of our old flame. Veronica felt unsettled by her loss of mommy duties, so I made a point to focus on the feelings that I have for her, just as I did before parenting entered our picture.

I’m not talking about pretending that we’re twenty-something again (although a little of that ain’t bad at all!), but rather rediscovering the attraction that brought about the big fall into that chasm of love in the first place. Sure, we are very different people now than the crazy kids we were back then, but the flint and steel that provided the spark is still within us; it just needs a little dusting off.

These attraction embers still have life because there is much more to attractiveness than what meets the eye. Veronica is not vain, but — like many women — she has struggled with the image of herself as the years have gone by. The bombardment by advertising’s unrealistic ideas of the female form — regardless of age — has an impact.

But here in the real world, there is much more to beauty and allure than physical appearance. Years of shared experiences, and the comfort of complete compatibility, more than make up for any lost youth, no matter what these marketers splash across our screens.

As men, we see those images too, and have been persuaded — no, programmed — into thinking that we all want supermodels who think about nothing more than fun times and a lot of beer. Well, I have two things to say about that:

First, it’s crap. This fantasy has no relation to real life, where our desires stem from actual affection, love, connection, and passion.

Second, when it comes to these fictitious, ideal females, most of us men are like dogs that bark at cars; we wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to do with one if we caught it.

Perhaps the most important point I can make is that in order to explore these changes and feelings as a couple, we needed to talk. Believe it or not, even though we’ve been married for over three decades, sometimes our mind-reading skills lead us astray.

Luckily we’ve learned to be open and honest about our relationship, both physical and emotional, but it’s vital to know what each of us expects, fears, anticipates, looks forward to and, yes, dreads in the upcoming thirty years so we can face them together.

Veronica really brought this home to me recently when she said, “Remember when we were first married and we used to talk about growing old together?”

Sure I do, back then it was cute and romantic, in a sort of Beatles “When I’m Sixty-Four” kind of way, but it was an idea that became easily overlooked in the hectic frenzy of child rearing. Now the time has come to wholeheartedly embrace the concept. Like it or not, it’s staring us down as a fact of life.

Then it struck me: the idea is still romantic, in a very real sort of way. In fact, it’s practically the definition of romantic, “doing and saying things to show that you love someone.”

I don’t think there’s a better way to embrace that concept than by celebrating each day of our future together.

Because, seriously, how lucky am I to have this time to spend with my best friend?


YOUR turn: Veronica here: I cried when I read this. Did you have the same reaction?

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22 thoughts on “The Empty Nest Through a Husband’s Eyes”

  1. I really like looking through an article that will make men and women think.
    Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

  2. I’m often reminded how lucky I am to have the time and space and relationships to stop and appreciate just how lucky I am. To be lucky and to know your good fortune are often two different things.

  3. I enjoyed reading your post and the bottom line is friendship is so important in any relationship especially a long term marriage. I think many couples give up when that spark and excitement wears off and that is sad to me.

  4. My husband is also my best friend after 34 years of marriage if we can make it another week. I laughed when you said that you wouldn’t know what to do with a supermodel – I feel the same way! Also laughed when my elderly neighbour said to me the other day – growing old together isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. She is carrying the load so I can see how it can get hard when you’re in your mid-80’s and your husband can’t help out physically. Great you two still have such a wonderful relationship.

  5. Awesome! People do focus on the mom in the Empty Nest talks, but what you said was perfect. 31 years married here and I think hubby and I should discuss the future just like 25 years ago.

  6. After 32+ years and sharing a whole lot of best of times and worst of times and just the general complexity of life with Mr. Excitement, I think I completely get where you’re coming from. We know it’s not a given. Many people aren’t fortunate enough to get to this place in their lives and marriage. We feel immensely grateful to have this sweet time together.

  7. This is beautiful!! David is a gem, and you two are so lucky to have one another! I like to think my husband would say similar things- in fact, I know he would. =) Thanks for this!

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