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 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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