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Empty nests: Learning to be a couple all over again

February 25, 2008
By Connie Cartmell,
Every Friday Bob and Cathi Voisinet of Marietta have a date night.

They prepare dinner together at home, set out the fine china, crystal wine glasses, cloth napkins and sit at the dining room table.

After dinner, they watch a movie.

It’s a tradition that sparks romance and remembrance.

The Voisinets are empty nesters.

“That’s us,” Cathi Voisinet said. “One warm summer night we just sat in our driveway and listened to ‘60s music on the iPod.”

On Sunday afternoons, the couple take a ride in the country, just to explore Washington County.

Empty nesting — when the children are away at college or all grown up and married — can be a fun and exciting time, opening a whole new chapter in a marriage.

“Bob and I were married in 1972 and were high school sweethearts,” Cathi Voisinet said. “Now, with the kids grown up, we still try to be ‘Bob and Cathi’ and not just ‘Mom and Dad’ or ‘Nana and Papa.’”

There are three grown Voisinet children, Bob, 33; Susannah, 30; and Tom, 27. The couple has six grandchildren.

Tami and Keith Tuten of Marietta have been married 29 years and have four adult children – Tara, 26; Jana, 23; Tim, 21; and Sam, 18. This is the first winter all the kids have been out of the house.

“We really miss them. When they were all here, we were really busy with all kinds of school activities,” said Keith Tuten, 52. “When the kids were all gone, we started doing more things together.”

Experts say the transition between being a parent of a teenager and the parent of an adult child is sometimes a difficult one. Even more complex is learning to be a couple all over again.

For two decades or more, you have been parents.

“It takes us back to the year before we had children,” Keith Tuten said. “We had moved out West and lived in Phoenix before they were born.”

The family moved back to Marietta in 1989.

“Now we have a tendency to pick up and go to the beach (Charleston, S.C.) more often. We work on projects here at home together,” he said.

Tami Tuten, also 52, suggests parents stop and take time to notice “simple pleasures,” what their children are doing. Time is fleeting, she said.

“Years fly by so quickly. Enjoy every day activities with your children,” she said. “Empty nesting is a new adventure for us.”

The family keeps in close touch.

“We still do miss the kids,” Tami Tuten said. “We all stay connected and are excited about their new adventures.”

Julie Stacy, children’s librarian at the Washington County Public Library, said empty nesting has “pros and cons.”

“There is a lot less laundry, dishes, and the house is not such a mess,” she said with humor. “But I miss them. Thank goodness for cell phones.”

Bruce and Julie Stacy have two adult children, Don, 21, and Joanne, 19. Both are college students.

The first year of empty nesting was “great,” said Susan Corcoran of Devola.

“Certainly I missed my children and love them dearly,” she said. “In that first year of empty nesting, there is time to rediscover each other. For a long time, your focus is on the kids.”

Susan and Peter Corcoran have been married 34 years and have three adult children (Dan, 29, Michael 26, and Shannon 25).

“Your relationship with your child changes to more of an adult relationship and more adult conversations,” she said.

Article Photos

BRAD BAUER The Marietta Times
Keith and Tami Tuten, of 200 Bellevue St., Marietta, take a walk Sunday with their pet dogs Ricky and Lucy.



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