Success in the Empty Nest: The 40th Anniversary of our First Date

Early this morning my sweet and thoughtful husband posted this same photo and announced this auspicious 40th year celebration. My initial reaction was “This will kill any interest in my post.” But then I realized I was being silly, who cares if anyone reads this, be grateful he wanted to share it with the social media world because he does it so rarely.  In case you wanted more details, here are a few more. Thanks for reading.

Continued Success in the Empty Nest ~

Ugh, forty years. Who writes “40 years” and is happy about it. My that sounds like an eternity doesn’t it? Although it has been four decades, it celebrates one of my (our) greatest accomplishments.

In 1977, a sweet and naive 15-year-old sophomore girl went on a date with a 17-year-old, irreverent, long-haired, but totally dreamy, high school boy. We met because we sat alphabetically in Spanish II and he sat behind me. On our date, I wore sensible sandals, cotton pants and a yellow t-shirt. He wore tan cords, a long-sleeve Queen (the rock band) t-shirt, Tiger tennis shoes, no socks.

Even after all these years I can remember all of the special details. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning, but I remember this day very clearly. It was a beautiful Sunday and we went to a backyard party (with a keg) for a band called Fracture.

Our relationship started really early in life, we spent twenty plus years raising our kids and getting them ready to leave the nest, but we have picked up some extra “steam” in the Empty Nest. Interpret that statement as you like, but having the freedom to do as you wish is a pretty awesome adventure.

Family time ~

Our family grew and changed just like everyone else’s. Two kids, super busy with sports, AP classes, National Charity League, softball and more sports. We did not spend as much quality time as a couple as we probably would have liked. Although we did travel some, the primary focus was always on the kids and their requirements. We actually cancelled a family trip to Hawaii once because Nick made the All Star team. Sounds crazy now that I am looking back. Craig will not agree, but that’s what makes our relationship exciting!

Family life then was super fun even if it was all about the kids. We LOVED it all. To be truthful, I know that my calling was to be Craig’s wife and to be the mother of Alex and Nick. I could not be happier with that job. A professional career wasn’t something that I aspired to, I was always enamored with being a stay at home mom.

When Nick was in elementary school I applied for my emergency teaching credential and became a substitute elementary school teacher. I moved on from there to work for Houghton Mifflin in the Education Sales Division. These were part time gigs that filled my time and helped with getting back in to a possible career. The fast paced business world passes you by quite quickly.

The nest was emptying out slowly…

Alex left for Seattle to go to school at the University of Washington and I had a really rough time. I cried at some point in each day until February her first year. I could not even go in to her room without getting upset so I just closed the door like a shrine. Craig finally said “She’s away at school, she didn’t die.” I perked up and moved on or at least I tried to.

Nick is five years her junior and we still had a great deal of life to live with him in high school. Poor Nick, because Alex was gone, the spotlight was always on him. Craig and I questioned everything and wanted to know every detail each day and we drove him nuts.

Nick went to UCLA which is only 60 miles from home, but I was still devastated that he was leaving. My baby, who was now 6’3″ with a strong mind of his own, was a man. He was attending my alma mater, so the sting wasn’t quite as deep, but now my real empty nest life truly began.

success in the empty nest

The difficulties of the empty nest ~

I have written before how I felt lost and like I was driving in a roundabout and couldn’t figure out how to turn out. I was so involved with being a mom, my identity was lost when they left home. No longer focused on all of their activities, I needed to find something for me and go back to giving my husband the time that he deserved.

The idea of Adventures of Empty Nesters came to me a couple of years into being an empty nester. I was ahead by a few years and many of my friends asked me how they could be successful at this cross-road in life. It is certainly an evolution. You do not become happily independent overnight, but if you follow these steps – click here, you too will be thriving!

We celebrate 33 years of marriage in October and our first date was today, forty freaking years ago. I can still see that sweet girl and know how she melted at the sight of that boy. Lucky me, I still feel that way. Who knew that the rebel I fell for so many years ago would be such a successful guy and devoted husband and father?

Back then I honestly gave it no thought. I never worried if we would be financially successful or whether our family would be strong. Somehow I knew in my heart that it would all work out. To make it thirty-three years is quite an accomplishment, but it wasn’t always a cake walk. However, there are reasons why I think we were successful. They aren’t secrets, but just simple, unselfish philosophies that make a relationship work. See “Click here” above.

There is no secret to the success in the empty nest ~

Our communication skills are fantastic and by talking about the issue, it can make all the difference. It’s great to be in love, but love does not fix anything, hard work does. Since we have been perfecting empty nester living we are having a blast. We recently downsized and renovated an old fixer upper home and we are incredibly proud of this major accomplishment.

Many have asked if we fought during the remodel and truthfully we really didn’t. Together, we attacked each problem as it came and figured it out as best as we could. We had never tackled something of this magnitude, but I think we just might do it again. What a fantastic feeling!

Our beautiful, newly renovated nest is just perfect for two with a little extra room for the kids when they visit or when friends come to stay. Rocco is our substitute child and we can baby him just like when we had little ones. His devotion and love is heart warming and it makes us have to walk three miles every single day!

I feel that our book is only half written and that we still have many adventures ahead. I am excited for the future and for our family The family foundation is forty years strong and I am so grateful that we have grown so much together. Who knew that darling young couple would be celebrating four decades later. On some level I think we both did, which is even more amazing.

All the best to you and your family!





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20 thoughts on “Success in the Empty Nest: The 40th Anniversary of our First Date”

  1. Congratulations to you and Craig. Forty years together is quite an accomplishment and to be happy together after that much time is the true measure of the hard work you have both put into your relationship.

    Herb and I met 30 years ago this St. Patrick’s Day, so we are 10 years behind you and proud of what we too have accomplished together.

    Hugs to you both.

    • Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.Mike and I feel so blessed to know couples like you and Craig who have successful happy marriages that go way beyond love as a feeling, but a lifelong commitment.

      • Thank you Diana. I wanted to emphasize that the commitment is through hard work and no one has a successful relationship without it. You and Mike have such a wonderful relationship as well. Congratulations to you both.

  2. Suzanne, I felt you were writing my story in your post today and so appreciate your insight. Its been an adjustment to live in my empty nest but I’m slowly finding a new identity and purpose. How wonderful that you have such a strong and loving family. I feel fortunate to say the same about mine. Thanks for writing and inspiring those of us in this place beyond raising kids and enjoying this next chapter of life.

    • Thank you for your kind words Jodi. Writing something so personal can be challenging. I chose to speak from the heart and let whatever happen! I am glad to hear that you are figuring out your situation as well!

  3. Well, you got me on this one! I have no clue when our first date was. Girlfriend, you had me cracking up when you remembered what you wore and tadatada and could NOT remember what you had for breakfast. Congratulations….

    • Heidi, it really is remarkable how many stories of our lives parallel each others! Thank you for always being such a great supporter.

  4. Congrats, Suzanne & Craig! I feel I have come to know you thru your site. I envy your togetherness. How lucky you are to have found one another at such a young age. That is truly an accomplishment. God bless you for the faith you have in one another.

    • Thank you Kath! You and Kevin also provide great role models to our children! You have a strong and admirable relationship as well.

  5. I LOVE that photo of you and Craig at that age! I remember you just a couple years older at college. We’re we really that young? LOVE you guys and I’m so happy that you have stayed happily married for so many years!

  6. Congratulations! All 3 photos are great. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts since hearing about your website in a UCLA newsletter when our son went off to UCLA in the fall of 2015.

    • Dear Jo Ann: Thank you so much for being with me from the beginning! I appreciate you. How is your student doing at UCLA? How is your empty nest coming along?


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