Moving into a household routine during retirement is often fraught with challenges. Doug Burford, Relationship Coach, in the video, opens our March blog about retirement relationships. He explains that people are now home together, possibly for long periods of time, with individual expectations of what will transpire. When an expectation isn’t met – BOOM – a landmine goes off and one wonders, “What Happened?”
(For more from Doug Burford, go to Stories, Lessons & Wisdom where Doug goes in-depth on relationships and the need for Other-Centeredness. Doug, a specialist in marriage and relationship counseling, was trained in the Gottman Method Couples Therapy and uses Certified Christian Spiritual Direction, when desired by his clients.)
So what is going on with retirement and relationships? And how are we going to manage all of this?
In this new chapter of life, issues arise over finances, chores, families, friends, vacations and leisure. Recently, one of my gal pals told me her newly-retired husband wanted her to make him lunch every day. Well… she let him know she was not going to make him lunch, but would show him where the bread & peanut butter was stored in the cabinet. She went on to explain that many times, she isn’t home during weekday lunches – her part-time job, yoga and an occasional lunch with friends take up most of her middays.
In retirement, out of sync expectations lead to disappointment, resentment and diminished emotional health. Consider resetting the rules and norms, and then with practice, life gets better. Communication and comprise are integral. Those in the relationship need to develop their “me” and “we” time for friends, sports, hobbies and more. Additionally, having separate physical spaces – an office, sewing room, or even a She Shed helps in this transition. Just know obstacles may arise and facing them sooner rather than later, with kindness and frankness will help you arrive at your new retired “normal.”
6 Steps to Master Retirement Relationships:
1) Make a Lifestyle Plan that includes finances, activities and routines. Then consider daily schedules, monthly goals and annual dreams. This will help you work together and realize your best retirement life.
2) Use Open Communication to contemplate, brainstorm and discuss how different life may or may not be. Listen. Don’t judge. Be objective. (For me, keeping my tone sweet and not being bossy sure helps-oops!)
3) Reach out and Connect with others who serve as a sounding board – vent or bounce ideas off of them; seek their insight and learn from them. You may consider using a life coach, relationship counselor, therapist or other professional.
4) Work or Volunteer (or both!) Here’s what we know – Seniors when surveyed want to work until age 68, but in-fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average age of 61 is when a primary job ends. Plus the fact that Boomers may not have enough money saved for retirement, getting a job (part-time or fulltime) is probably a smart choice! Popular part-time jobs for retirees include consultant, researcher, online teacher, tutor, coach, writer, seasonal worker, customer service rep, usher, docent and pet or house sitter.
5) Resurrect old Hobbies and/or Develop new ones. Think about what made you happy in your youth – games, photography, gardening or reading – and adapt it into your daily life. For example, if as a teen you loved playing Scrabble, then hop online to Facebook Scrabble or Words with Friends and get started again. If in-person interactions are more your style, ask friends to play, or check your church or local library to see if they have a Scrabble club. If not, start one!
6) Be Positive! This transition might be challenging – admit it, laugh, be grateful and keep moving forward!
Retirement only means it is Time for a New Adventure
Hmm, what if your new adventure doesn’t include your current spouse? Then you are part of a growing demographic called Gray Divorce, Silver Splitter or Diamond Divorce. It’s defined as the increasing divorce rate for older couples in long marriages. In a 2017 report, Pew Research stated the 50+ divorce rate has roughly doubled in the last 25 years. Led mainly by women, researchers postulate longevity, the cultural values of Boomers and women’s increasing financial independence as potential causes. There are about 20 million single Americans age 65+ (census.gov August, 2017).
Life and love goes on, as evidenced by the rise in Senior dating websites including Elite Singles, SeniorMatch, SixtyandMe and OurTime. Additionally, retirement communities report adding programing, trips and events for singles. Women tend to go to lunch with their friends, take classes, go dancing, shop and attend museum exhibits. An amorous female-seeker might find them in restaurants, libraries, clubs, museums, shopping districts and hobby-related classes. Senior single men go to ballgames, play golf, pickle ball, ping-pong and tennis, and they go to establishments to watch sports. So, if you are looking, now you know where to find ‘em.
Whatever your retirement relationships, remember close personal friends and social interactions add to longevity. Aim for 3 stable relationships, belong to a community or communities (family, neighborhood, church, book club, or bowling team) and engage in eye-to-eye contact.
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