Retirement transition can be a challenge on a marriage as you begin spending even more time together and possibly working through individual changes. Suddenly you might be together almost 24/7. Often you have 2 people who have different ideas of what retirement is to them. Can a marriage survive this time of significant transition turmoil? I am no psychologist or counselor; I just know what has worked for us.
Understand how you each express love. (Love Languages) And if his/her way is different than your way, recognize the differences. Hubby and I have very different ways to express love and appreciation. He is about acts of service, while I am time spent. We have learned to “speak” each other’s language.
Appreciate what you fell in love with. I liked him the first time I met him. OK, I tried to set him up with my best friend; they are both naturally athletic, and me … not at all. But that liking turned into love quickly and it was mutual. In retirement, I’ve looked at what we enjoyed doing together when we first met and tried to bring that, or something similar, back into our life.
Accept the quirks. Yes, we all have quirks. A number of years ago, it was pointed out to me to not allow the quirks to become irritations, but to continue to view them as endearing quirks. I’ve often said, “he’s not perfect, but he’s perfect for me.”
Recognize and accept differences in retirement lifestyle. Per Nancy Schlossberg (Revitalizing Retirement, 2012), my hubby’s approach to retirement is an “Easy Glider”. For him, retirement is a time to relax and take each day as it comes. The joy is having no agenda and no pressure and to make each day his own. He has no desire to set goals or have bucket lists. On the other hand, the planner and explorer in me makes me a “Searcher”. For me, it’s about looking for what’s next, finding my new niche (passion), and venturing into new paths (trying new things). I need to allow his retirement to be his and not mine. This is an ongoing challenge for me, and I am trying to not plan every new thing I want to explore with him as the companion. I am also trying to be more spontaneous, less planned.
Communicate, communicate, and communicate. Hubby does not read my blog, but he does review every draft post, so he understands what retirement transition means to me! But I need to remember that he can’t read my mind and I can’t read his either. I can share with him my fears, my challenges, and my desires. Although he does know me pretty well after all these years together, it’s important to remember that we still need to talk things out.
Transition to retirement has not been without some ups and downs in our marriage. Our retirement visions are different, but I continue to hope that they are complimentary. We choose to continue to love each other, being open in our communication, understanding what we like to share, and being appreciative of each other. I enjoy a full calendar of events that keep me as busy as I choose to be, while hubby focuses on enjoying being at home with his daily workouts and his screen time (he loves his movies, comics, and surfing the Internet). He rolls his eyes at my lists, and I tease him about his hoarding tendency. He agreed to downsize and keep a home base in Ohio, and I’m planning to snowbird this winter in Florida. I am truly grateful he is in my life and he remains my best friend.
If you’re married, how has retirement transition impacted your relationship?
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