I haven't written much about relationships in retirement, but now that my husband sold his business and he's nearly fully retired, the topic comes up on a regular basis.
Fortunately, I'm familiar with the research on how retirement affects relationships. I know that the best scenario is when a couple retires at the same time and they go thru the transition together. I know that retirement (and more time together) magnifies the state of the relationship. Healthy relationships get better, and well, a poor relationship gets worse.
I'm learning that couples are frequently in different places mentally and emotionally when they retire. Often times they're not on the same page when it comes to how they want to exercise their brand-new freedom. It's common for one person to have more of a "play mindset" while the other leans toward a "productive mindset." In other words, you may enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee while reading the newspaper, while your partner is motivated to feed the hungry or start a new business.
I've experienced this division personally. For instance, one weekday morning my husband said, "I'm going to visit Eleanor Roosevelt's home in Hyde Park, NY. Do you want to come?" Now, I'd love to see Eleanor's home, or anyone's home for that matter, but this activity felt "too retired" to me. I'm thinking that I have too much going on in my life to drive to a tourist site on a Wednesday afternoon. That's something old retired people do. Honestly, I don't have too much going on in my life, but I like to believe that I do.
I didn't join my husband for the house tour but I did use this incident to start a dialog about our different expectations of retirement. (You don't need a retirement expert to tell you that open communication is vital to a healthy relationship.) We took time to listen to each other and express our different needs in retirement. We explored ways for Dave to enjoy a sense of play while I continue to meet my need for productivity.
As I write this post, we're sitting at a Starbucks. I'm "working" and Dave's reading the Albany Times Union. We're not even sitting together, although once in a while we make eyes across the room. Maybe that sounds weird to you, which is okay. Each relationship is unique. By understanding your needs and that of your partner, you'll design ways to create your retirement story, even when you're not on the same page.
Copyright 2015 Patrice Jenkins All Rights Reserved