The weather has been a little crazy around here. This is the second full week off I’ve had since I went back to work on January 8th. I have no complaints. Mostly.

We have all this time together. It’s a blessing, actually, to decide what Mass to attend, usually very early, because it’s what we want. Or how delightful it is to put the ground beef back in the fridge because dinner out sounds so appealing, and all it takes is the asking. No coordinating. No checking of schedules. No wondering what time we need to get back.

But this mid-life, empty-nest, season of our lives -- call it what you want, is a little more complicated than figuring how not to step on each other’s toes for that first dance as man and wife at our wedding.

You see, we’re always together.

Suddenly, the Bickersons start to make sense.

The hardest part of this new normal is trying to figure out how to work in the same space when we’re actually occupying the same space. That’s a little tricky. You see, we have different work styles, and frankly, we do very different kinds of work.

He has a lot of phone calls and a lot of consulting. I need a lot of quiet and few interruptions.

We’re both kind of social.

That adds up to being in each other’s way a lot. That’s not conducive to workflow. It’s even less conducive to marital bliss.

Where our communication before was usually sharing our schedules to make sure all the right bases were covered, activities were attended, and groceries were bought and cooked and put on the table, our new communication style revolves around different needs.

We need to get our work done. We desire to hang around each other -- gee whiz, we got married because we liked to spend time together (ok, and a lot of other reasons).

So what is the solution?

Well, communicating. Talking. Having some hard but necessary conversations about what we need, and then trying to find the solution together. It’s actually pretty hard to do, especially when passive-aggressive huffing and puffing is easier.

We have found that simply stating “I need two hours of absolutely no interruptions” works best. It’s clear, and the parameters are defined.

And probably, at the two hour and one minute mark someone suggests we go out for ice cream. What’s not to love?

How are you managing the new normal in the empty nest?

Copyright 2014 Maria Morera Johnson