Reconnect with your Spouse: Making your Marriage Survive Retirement

 

There’s lots of togetherness in retirement!

If you read Dixie’s last post, you’ve been remembering why you chose your partner.  That’s a good place to start.   If you want your marriage to survive retirement, you’ve got to reconnect with your spouse.

Retirement is a wonderful time, a time to be celebrated, but it’s also a time that takes some getting used to – much like that first year of marriage when we learn to make the enormous leap from “me” to “we.”

But for some reason, we expect a period of adjustment to marriage but not to retirement.  Maybe it’s because most of us have spent a lot of years in a pretty consistent routine – raising kids, going to work, and handling the myriad number of chores and obligations required to do both those things.  We think the relationship we’ve forged over the years will just go on in this new and free format, only we’ll be on vacation all the time!

For better or for worse, but not for lunch!

Unfortunately, experts know that the changes accompanying retirement can wreak havoc on a marriage.  The statistics involving divorce at this period are pretty grim: since 1981, there has been a 16% increase in the divorce rate among couples married 30 or more years.

There might be a bit too much togetherness during those first few retirement months.  And when both spouses have worked at jobs where they were in charge, there may be a difficulty in giving up that authority!

“Thank you dear for finishing my sentence.  That’s exactly what I would have said.” –  Wife of a retired husband

Sometimes couples have simply stopped working without really making a plan for their retirement – not a financial plan, but a life plan!  They may feel overwhelmed and baffled about what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives!  But it doesn’t have to come to that.

The good news is that couples who make it through this passage (just like all those other passages encountered in any long-term relationship) come out the other side stronger and happier.  Most couples eventually find that this time is one of the sweetest times in life.

How do we make it sweet?

  • Start by making a conscious commitment to the relationship. Tell yourself that your spouse comes first.  Before your grown kids.  Before your grandchildren.  Before your friends.  Before anyone.  When a major decision comes up, ask yourself, “Is this good for the relationship?”
  • Give yourselves space. You don’t have to be joined at the hip.  In fact, it’s important to have some interests of your own.  Find some new hobbies or spend more time on the ones you already have.  You’ll be more interesting to your partner when you have something special to share about your day.  My husband just started a part-time job at the golf course.  He comes home full of stories about new people and new activities.
Be sure to have a couple of good hugs every day!
  • Create a ritual for yourselves as a couple. Have coffee together and read the paper each morning, share a cocktail before dinner, or take a walk each evening after dinner.  This is a time each day when you know you’ll be concentrating on each other and talking.   My favorite time of day is early morning coffee with the newspaper!

More ways to reconnect!

 

  • Express appreciation for your partner. Tell him why he’s great and tell other people in front of him!  Everybody likes to feel appreciated.

 

  • Don’t ignore your sexual relationship. Work on being intimate.  Make a date for sex or give each other a massage or just make sure to have a couple of decent hugs each day.  Physical contact is important.  It makes you feel loved.

”Explore one another. You might like what you find.”  Unknown

  • Spend time with mutual friends. Reaching out to other people enriches your life, not just by giving you an excuse to get out of the house to do something, but by providing perspective on your own relationship.

Establish a new routine.  And remember to laugh.

 

  • Create a new routine for chores.  I can remember my grandmother and grandfather arguing over which direction the handle of the tea kettle should point!  Instead of fighting over the correct way to wash the dishes or make the bed, divide the responsibilities for chores in an equitable manner and then let your partner alone.  And say thanks!  My husband does the vacuuming.  And I don’t.  I think that’s fabulous.
  • Establish separate territories in your house. When I was doing research for this blog, I thought this was a weird idea.  Especially since we live in a tiny house.  Then I realized  that Bob spends lots of time in his man cave on the lanai (that’s a porch in Florida), and I spend a lot of time in my office corner of the bedroom.  We  wander in to see each other from time to time, but we both have our own space.  It works.

 

  • Keep a sense of humor. Laughter greases the creaky wheels of life, and flexibility is the key to happiness!

 

The good news here is that couples tend to get happier the longer they’re retired.  If you expect a period of adjustment, you’ll find that you can work together to create a wonderful retirement life.

Pam

Writers@richlyaged.com

Retirement 13: Explore, Dream New Adventures

                                                     

 Time to explore new adventures.

So far in this, Baby Boomer’s Guide to a Happy Retirement, you’ve been encouraged to replace old “work think” with new “retirement think.”

Fill your own bucket with your Dreams and Goals.

You’ve also been encouraged to “drill deep down inside” and release those forgotten seeds of your visions for the grown up you. Now you are being asked to push the edge of your experience and knowledge levels and try new opportunities.

This chapter is designed to plant those very seeds that will take you from spectator to participant.    Let’s see if we can pique your interest in some long forgotten adventures.

A “bucket list” is about dreams or goals.

Sometimes, when we steal a few moments to reflect, we might have a tiny tinge of remorse – for the undone or the unaccomplished during our determined mission of always paying the bills and caring for the family.  These regrets might be about the things you once imagined in your life or hoped for in your future but learned to live without.

Can you conjure up those passed-over thoughts now that you are in this wonderful new phase of your life?  Are they, or a version of them, now obtainable?  Is it possible or even probable that you can realize those filed-away dreams?

The recent movie “The Bucket List” capitalized on the idea of the dreamed for and not yet attained.  Its popularity has been nurtured with the current Baby Boomers coming of age and exploding  demographically.

Two of my husband and my dreams and goals were:

  1. Buy a floating home (not a houseboat- they have motors) and live on a river in the Northwest.

    Dream of living in a floating home. Ours on the Columbia River.
  2. Full time in a motor home for a couple of years while travelling our nation.

    Our full time motor home for 18 months dream

 Define Dreams and Goals?

Continue reading Retirement 13: Explore, Dream New Adventures

Retirement 12 – Create your Ideal Retirement Life

Settle down with a cup of coffee for a little bonding time

Gather up the essentials – your significant other, a crisp glass of chardonnay or a strong cup of coffee, and your imagination – to create your ideal retirement life.  This is a wonderful conversation, so prepare to linger over it.  The sky is the limit.  Don’t be discouraged by incidental problems like a lack of money.  Dream big!  You can almost always find a way.  We’ll talk about that later.  The important thing is to figure out exactly what it is you want your ideal retirement life to be.

We’ve had many of these conversations over the years.  We usually start by each making a list of what we want to do in the next couple of years.  Then we share them with each other and consider how we can make the lists come alive.  It was one of those conversations that got us to Florida 15 years before we retired.  We knew we wanted to be somewhere warm when we stopped working. Continue reading Retirement 12 – Create your Ideal Retirement Life

Retirement 11: Outline Your Ideal Retirement Life – Embrace Happiness

Know what you want and go and get it!

Before you begin to plan the nuts and bolts of your ideal retirement, make the life-changing decision to embrace happiness.   This may not be as simple as it sounds, but it can be done.  So much of how we feel is a decision.  Consider the example of Abraham Lincoln.

President Lincoln said that we’re just about as happy as we make up our minds to be.  That’s truly amazing when you consider that he suffered from melancholia (clinical depression) and that he had recently lost a beloved son and was responsible for steering the nation through a brutal Civil War.

If Lincoln could decide to be happy, surely we could give it a try!  Here are some proven ways to raise our level of happiness.

Proven Happy-Makers

1.  Be non-judgmental. This doesn’t mean you don’t have standards.  It just means that you’re willing to take people as they are.  We can never change the other person; all we can change is our reaction to that person. Continue reading Retirement 11: Outline Your Ideal Retirement Life – Embrace Happiness

Retirement 10: Pay Yourself First

Accept and be good to yourself. 

Begin by being as good to yourself as you’d be to a friend.  Most of us tend to be pretty hard on ourselves. Pay yourself first.

Think back to the times that you’ve been far more accepting and forgiving to others in your life than you were to yourself and see if you can’t cut yourself some slack.  There’s nothing selfish in that.

Special gifts just for you.

Gift yourself first
Be good to yourself.

Start by doing things that enrich you – your body, your mind, and your soul.  Find things that nurture you and make you feel good about yourself.  They can be big things – traveling to South America – or small things – learning to bake the perfect pie!

Increase your self esteem and self confidence.

Applying these gifts to your life will increase your sense of self and your self-confidence.  Research echoes these suggestions.  Take a look at this excerpt from Psychology Today.

“As we learn better self-care, we become better people in general. When we are in touch with our own feelings, we can then reach out more effectively to others and show love and empathy to them also.

If we are filling our own emotional tanks with self-respect and loving care, we have much more to give to our families, friends, and the world in general.”

Enjoy these “gifts” for you.   A few suggestions for self-acceptance follow: Continue reading Retirement 10: Pay Yourself First

Retirement 9: Four Ways to Discover Your Authentic Self

What look do you want?

How do you discover your authentic self by looking in the mirror? This might seem like a strange question that has little to do with life in retirement, but the answer is revealing because the look we pursue says something about us.  It says, “This is the face I’m showing to the world.  This is what I want to be.”

Will the real you please stand up!

For some, it’s professional dye jobs and plastic surgery.  For others, it’s the decision to stop all that stuff.  I know of one coworker who said if she ever had a car accident just remember that L’Oreal # 56 was her hair color.  Another friend said, “I just ignore my wrinkly neck and wear low-necked shirts.

My daughter-in-law recently asked me how long I was going to remain a blonde. “Oh, forever, I’m never going to stop coloring my hair.”  Continue reading Retirement 9: Four Ways to Discover Your Authentic Self