Posted by: Vix the Over-Educated Nympho
Topic: Why do you think so many couples split up once they are “empty nesters” – once the kids are independent?
I agree with Margo Z about the choice of topics the last few weeks being a bit of a downer, so I will play devil's advocate on a topic that needs a little love.
My parents have been married--to each other, first time--for well over thirty years. If my father's ass-grabs and mother's squeals are any indication, they still dig each other after all that time. It's sweet in a really gross "LA LA LA I'm not thinking about it!" kind of way.
As the oldest I moved out years ago. My youngest brother has been gone for only three. It never even occurred to me that my parents might split up once we left them empty-nesters because their nest was still plenty full without us. Jeez, if anything they needed the room.
My parents started working together when I was still in high school. Mom worked out of the house and Dad helped out on weekends. While I was in college he called it quits on sixty hour weeks of Corporate America and started dividing his time between consulting and working with my mother--both jobs which leave him padding around the house in cut-offs and flip-flops, "like some d*** hippie" according to Mom.
When they first started working together I was concerned because I thought spending that much extra time together might put a magnifying glass on all the little issues every couple has and turn them into a bonfire. They must have done something to keep those little issues in check, because there were two very strong personalities that could have exploded after prolonged exposure.
Maybe being together in a professional capacity helped make their relationship more balanced? Would their relationship be as tight if they had a passion for the same hobby or traveled the world together like other fifty-something couples? What does it take to keep a couple going once "Mom and Dad" are back to "husband and wife"?
Maybe it's not a matter of having something specific that ties them together after the kids leave--maybe it's really about having stayed connected all along, through the uncomfortable pregnancies, 3 am pukings, and teenage black-fingernail-polish phase. What is it that keeps couples together through that when it's not "for the sake of the children"?
There's a photo I have of my parents that has been my favorite for years in spite of the terrible fluorescent lighting and cropped talking heads. It's a close-up of my father getting in my mother's face with his mouth wide open in an intimidating growl, which she returns with a cheeky pucker-up and closed eyes. I love that photo because it is sooo Mom and Dad. There is so much personality and so much history in that tiny moment, more than I could ever understand.
Kids? What kids?
They aren't together "for the sake of the children" (a choice that friends of mine often resented growing up, saying they would be happier if their parents just got divorced already). They are together because they choose to be together. They aren't doing it for the kids, for finances, or for appearances. Waking up next to each other is a daily reminder that they still choose to be together after all these years.
It gives the cynics like me the hope that I will be in my own version of that photo one day.