Like most couples, we entered the empty nest phase of our lives pretty much the same way we entered the world, starry-eyed and clueless. An anxiety-inducing mixture of excitement and terror. We had our big now what? moment and stumbled ahead, knowing that we had to do something to reconnect as the couple that fell in love all those years ago.
We couldn't just pretend there wasn't a big space where the kids had been in our day-to-day lives. Not just the time spent running hither and yon -- to school, practices, plays, dance, ball games, and the like -- but the social interaction of those activities all instantly disappear. Poof.
Six years down the road we seem to have learned a few things -- we like to call it breaking the empty nest rules, but we have also been reasonably successful at making the empty nest work.
While we would never advocate that everyone do things as drastically as we did -- sell everything and hit the highway on an endless road trip -- we have discovered something that we thing will work across the board...
Do something completely new together
This doesn't mean taking up each other's hobbies -- although that can be nice too -- it means something totally new, something neither of you has experienced.
It doesn't hurt to get out of your comfort zone a bit, either.
For us, this was traveling to places neither of us had ever been. Seeing awesome sights for the first time, together. Learning about new cultures, together. Trying new unique, exotic, and sometimes downright weird foods, together.
We always have something to talk about, laugh about, and learn about through each other's perspective. But traveling certainly isn't the only way to accomplish this, there are all sorts of opportunities much closer to home.
As our nest was emptying, but before we sold it, we both took part in a community theater production of Jesus Christ Superstar. This was a fantastic way to come together as a couple, helping each other rehearse, working toward a common goal, and feeling pretty darn proud when we pulled it off in the performances.
There are plenty of other places to jump in, like volunteering. No doubt any number of organizations could use some help from a couple with the experience and wisdom of a few years under their belts.
Or going back to school. Certainly there's an educational institution nearby that offers classes in subjects new and interesting to both spouses. It could be learning a new language, cooking, creative writing, or philosophy. The options are nearly endless.
How about taking up a new sport? We're not talking about going along on hubby's next golf date, or to the next Pilates class with the wife. That's not new to both and will probably go about as well as our skiing fiasco. Besides, if you're anything like us, golf usually makes us feel like killing somebody. Not good for empty nest bonding.
But if neither spouse has ever ridden a horse, sailed a boat, hiked in the mountains, biked along the sea shore, or even gone skiing or played a round golf, then experiencing that for the first time, together, can have an amazing effect on a marriage.
It's almost like dating again.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
YOUR TURN: Are you game for any of these ideas? What has worked/not worked for you? Did we miss anything?
Earlier on Huff/Post50: