The practical side of marriage…

Your experience, when entering retirement and living it, is going to be unique to you.

But however you react, and no matter what plans you make, it is going to have an impact on others. Especially your life partner.

This means it is no time to take a solo voyage oblivious to the way your new role may be creating waves for others.

As the saying goes, ‘no man – or woman – is an island’. Our lives are entwined with the lives of others. Those closest to you will now have expectations of you –‘more time to help’. And even some fears – ‘under my feet all day’.

It is also possible that your assumptions about how this new era will work are not shared as fully by your partner and that can lead to resentment.

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  • Talking it through

    Some couples find situations like this easy to talk through. Others only get there after an explosion of built up frustration. Whichever it may be for you, a formal ‘let’s talk this through together’ meeting – done best over a meal – is to be recommended.

    On the agenda would be items like –

    The small stuff:

    • How are the changes in my life going to impact you?
    • What hopes do you have for us when/now I’m retired?
    • What concerns do you have about the new situation – and what would you like me to do about them?
    • What might we now be able to do together that we could not before?
    • How best can we both find ways to have our own space – and how much time do we want to be apart?
    • Are there household chores and responsibilities that should now be reassigned?

    The big stuff:

    • How best can we look out for each other?
    • What new adventures/experiences could we share?
    • What could be on our bucket list?
  • Give each other space

    The biggest issue that is likely to impact your relationship is the ‘getting under each other’s feet’ one. When something like 200 days a year of being apart come to a sudden, or even gradual, end the readjustment can be a challenge.

    It would therefore be wise to:

    • Work at developing your own interests and enjoying some friendships of your own. Having your own identity will be good for you both and enrich you both.
    • Establish separate spaces for each of you at home. There is great wisdom in having an equivalent of the man-shed – for both of you. This can be for anything from hobbies to TV watching. It is true the Bible says, ‘It is not good for man to be alone’. But this is not meant to be for every waking moment.
  • Maintain communication

    You may well find that retirement impacts you in unexpected ways. There may be the emotional issues of stress or your loss of status. These inner feelings are not things to keep bottled up, especially because of the impact on your partner.

    They can also be hard to talk about or even own up to. But your other half deserves to know what is going on with you. Which makes honest conversation vital.

Dianne Parsons – Care for the Family

The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife