I’m slightly peeved about the timing of the recent research into divorce rates in Australia.
Apparently, the number of divorces among empty-nesters and (what my father describes as) ‘lifers’ has increased. The release of the stats from the Australian Institute of Family Studies is already creating tension on my domestic front, and I hadn’t even finished packing my bag or bought my Around The World ticket yet.
The old man fell upon the research at his office and promptly emailed me the link to the article with one of those big red exclamation marks, (the ones he gets really cross about when I ignore them).
At the time, I was still restoring my sanity after Kurt’s late departure to school (provoked by a mother/son physical sparring over a box of cereal) and calming myself down with some therapy on Social Media. So I remained unaware of the old man’s concerns.
But when he still hadn’t received my detailed emailed response by 10.30am, he decided to Skype me instead.
This is what he does these days to check on what I’m doing at home – to see if I really am working or (as he suspects) sipping lattes with friends around North Sydney pool. He Skypes me from his office with absolutely nothing to say and then spends the next few minutes pulling funny faces at me on the screen.
He thinks I’m entertained by this behaviour.
It was rather unfortunate that I was still in my dressing gown at 10.30am on that particular morning. Other bloggers will know that when inspiration strikes, everything else has to be parked, in order to prioritise those rare moments when the seeds of wisdom align.
‘So when are you leaving me then?’ he fired at me as I begrudgingly accepted his call request, frantically running my fingers through my hair in an attempt to get rid of the ‘bedhead’ look and trying to focus on his face on the screen at the same time.
I always look guilty, even when I’m not.
‘What……what are you talking about now?’ I asked him, still lost in the complex characterization of the book I am trying to write.
‘Apparently more and more women are leaving their marriages as soon as the kids leave home,’ he hissed accusingly.
I took a deep breath and feigned surprise.
‘Really?’ I said. ‘But our kids are never going to leave home, so what are you worrying about? And we’re so happy(!)’
The dreams of the empty-nester. Have I mentioned our retirement plans before? Ours are in the process of being adapted due to Kurt’s recent downfall into the underworld of criminality and the fact that Nerd Child only ever leaves her bedroom to learn more about scientific moles. But we still live in hope.
The thing is, people do tend to talk a lot about retirement and what they’re going to do ‘after kids’ (ak) when they’ve been married for too f*cking long over twenty years and are stuck in the murkiness of teenage hell.
What else is there look forward to?
You see, we now have to factor in prison-visiting times into our retirement schedule to see Kurt, as well as trips to NASA to see NC. And the Spoodle Princess is, frankly, looking a little too healthy for our liking – the smoked salmon lunches are obviously improving her health (her intelligence not so much, as we discovered during a fantastic game of ‘The Invisible Ball’ yesterday) – so apartment-living and white sofas may have to be postponed for a while longer.
The Skype conversation quickly turned to the usual rankling over our assets and the D word. I begrudgingly assured him (again) that I would take Kurt and that he would get the big TV and all the remotes.
We take so much pleasure out of planning our divorce, it has almost become a joint midlife hobby for us; like moaning about the kids. In fact, I think that one of the best things about being married for twenty years, sometimes, is the predictability.
Let’s face it, the old man and I have been ‘itching’ for years when it comes to our marriage. Histrionics have always been a big part of our mating ritual – I’ve always been the drama queen and he is the strong silent type – it is a recipe made in hell.
Personally, I haven’t had time to work out if I’m dissatisfied with my marriage or not. I imagine that we could improve our relationship in certain areas, but it’s not half as much fun analysing what we have now, as it is analysing what we can do with our lives once our marriage is dead. Humour is what keeps our marriage alive. One thing I am certain of, though, is that we don’t stay together for the sake of the kids. I have always believed that kids are much happier with a single parent than a couple who hate each others guts.
No doubt the old man will prove the statistics right and remarry someone with large, pert breasts and a huge salary, just to really piss me off; someone unlike me, who would rather choke on my own vomit than tell him how wonderful he is. And I’ll do something equally childish, like shag loads of young surfer types with long hair, who may not be rocket scientists, but who might make me feel appreciated once in a while.
Who knows what the future holds.
But I still quite like the idea of our beach house in Byron Bay, with our two computers facing the ocean – me tapping words on mine, him tapping numbers on his.
- 20-year itch: marriages fail empty-nest test (smh.com.au)
- Marriage Advice: What I’ve Learned About Marriage From Editing Huffington Post Divorce (huffingtonpost.com)