Kindness Keeps Marriages Together

Today we are talking about marriage. Neither Barbara nor I are mental health care professionals, so please don't take this episode as professional advice. If you are having marriage problems or considering getting married, please seek counseling from a qualified professional. These are just our experiences and what I've learned from research.

If you are a long-term listener to this show, you know that one of the six pillars to a great retirement lifestyle is your relationship with your significant other, if you have one.

But this is not an easy thing in the United States. Here, we have been taught that marriage is something that should be entered into for life and that divorce is almost always a bad thing. But most marriages here fail. And when they do, it's usually because one or both partners were too selfish to care about their partner's needs.

And so, what can we do? How can we make our relationships better? What can we do to keep them together?

In this episode, I will share a few secrets about relationships.  If you are not married, you can use this information with your friendships so keep listening!

We'll be talking about the following:

  • Be flexible – things don't always go as planned.
  • Have Adventures with each other.
  • Take time for yourself too.
  • Be kind!

Be flexible – things don't always go as planned.

If you listened to the last episode we released, you found out that things don't always go as planned.  Barbara and her husband purchased a beautiful, brand new motor home, and were ready to go on a dream trip. If you haven't listened to that episode, go back and listen.  Although it's not Barbara's voice you'll hear, it is her words.  We used a computer voice so that we could get the episode out to you because Barbara and I have both been busy.

And I'd like to apologize to the listeners for not getting this episode out earlier.  We had a few people reach out to us to determine if we were OK.  Yes, we are.  Barbara's been traveling, and I wasn't really ready to do solo episodes in the interim.  So we went dark.  Because this is an independent show with no advertisers, we were able to do that and come back.

But I'm sorry I didn't send an email or anything to let you know what was going on.  We'll try to do better next time.

This really ties into the first segment.  Things don't always go as planned. When you are retired or preparing for retirement, you need to be flexible.

Flexibility is something I'm working on.  It's very difficult for me to change midstream.  This is especially true if I'm trying to learn how to do something.   I think I got a bit of a bad reputation in my synchronized swimming because of that.  The choreographers have to make adjustments to the routines so that every swimmer can shine in the show.  After all, we are not spring chickens, and we are not competing in the Olympics.  Every one of our synchronized swimmers has a life outside of swimming.

Last year, our routine got changed several times, not only to accommodate our team members but also because we lost two of our swimmers due to Health Issues.  We also had a replacement because one of our swimmers decided she'd rather do a different activity.  Luckily, we could replace that swimmer, but our team kept getting smaller.

Every time our routine was changed, I would snort.  I thought I was being funny, but now I realize I was causing a lot of stress to the choreographers.  I learned a lot about being flexible and how that doesn't just affect me but also affects people around me.  So it's something I'm working on under the subject of friendships AND significant others.

Of course, I have a lot of work to do before being considered flexible.  And I'll have to do a lot to rid myself of that inflexible reputation.

Let's hear what Barbara has to say about it.

Barbara:  “Well, I would call this, when things don't go as planned. Because when you have a planned trip, you have dates and times of where you need to be. And
when everything falls apart, you have to start canceling plans. And one thing I learned is RV resorts don't cancel plans for bad weather. And we were in bad weather, we were snow, we
were rain, everything was crazy. So I didn't know if we could get any of our money back. But we had a nine-day trip planned down the Oregon and California coast. So we got to Arizona.”

“But when I called them and truthfully told them our story that we had a brand new 2022 That wouldn't start, the sympathy was amazing. And with one exception, we got our refunds. And so I can't say enough about how kind people were. But when things don't go as planned, then you're winging it. And lots of people are very comfortable with that. I'm not I want to know where I'm sleeping, where I'm plugged in to where I'm hooking up, and I do exhaustive research. But at the point that it finally got started, it was go time. And we were two weeks
beyond what we'd already paid for in Arizona. And okay, it's just money, but it still felt wrong that we've paid for this, and we're not there enjoying that.”

“So, we just did a beat feet. Just start driving. One thing I've learned from lots and lots of people is that three to four hours of driving is a good, it's a good number. Get up in the morning, have your breakfast drive, have your lunch, and go check-in, you know, one or two. Well, we wanted to get there. And so we drove a lot of 5-6-7 hour days. And then you don't have anywhere to sleep because you don't know where you are.”

Kathe: “But there is one good thing about having an RV and you're driving five hours. You have a bathroom. Right?”

Barbara:  “Amen, sister. And so, and I'm about to go as far as my husband can. So I know, he'd go on fine. I'm like I'm not . So yeah, having a bathroom, but also having a place to make a sandwich. Or to be able to get up and get him some chips or a drink or a cup of tea or something. And you know, it's fully functional. With or without power, you have a generator and everything and so, so that was good.

But I have to say that there's a whole world out there of Walmart and Cracker Barrels, and let you stay there. And so, while it wasn't the most restful night, because they're usually by a major highway or an airport or something like that. You can do it; you can do it. I think that was early on him driving and, you know, getting in and out of parking lots and whatever was really white knuckle for us, because we're towing a jeep. But the more he drove, the better he got at it, you know. And so, one learning I have with an RV is when things don't go as planned and you don't have anywhere to go, you're gonna be okay; you can pull over just about anywhere. And as long as you feel safe, you know, geographically safe, and there's room to put your slides out, you can go to bed, get up the next morning and head-on. So you can cover a lot more territory, more distance than I had imagined. And we really kind of let it go.  We had in our mind what, we were going to see and what we were going to do. And at this point, it's like okay, just Get there.”

Have adventures with each other 

The next episode of the Rock Your Retirement Show will go over Barbara's latest  Adventure.  In this adventure, she and her husband helped build a house in a few days.  They went to Mexico with their small church fellowship group and built a house.

I'm not going to tell you the entire story; I'll let Barbara do that in the next episode.  But I can tell you that adventures can strengthen a marriage.

How can adventures strengthen a marriage?

Well, they give both partners opportunities to grow together. You see, when you're married, your partner becomes part of your identity. And when you're retired, you become more of yourself. That means you have new interests and new hobbies. Adventures allow you to explore those interests and hobbies.

They help you get to know each other better. They also give you a chance to spend quality time together.

And finally, adventures help you stay connected. If you're still doing things together after you retire, then you won't feel like you've forgotten who you are.

These can be big adventures or small adventures.  If you are a long-term listener of the show, you may remember Fritz Gilbert from episodes 198 and 225.  Fritz and his wife created the “Wednesday Jar”.  This was where they wrote one thing down on a piece of paper that they could do for their Wednesday adventures.  They filled the jar up with hundreds of these “one things”.

Then each Wednesday, they would draw something from the jar, and they would go do it.  This way they got to do some fun things together, some that she wanted to do, and some that he wanted to do, and it was always something different, so they never got bored.

So, if you want to keep your marriage strong, start planning some adventures.

Take time for Yourself!

Over the last year, I've started doing things on my own more.  Prior to that, Les and I always did things as a couple.  But now, I'm getting more involved in some of the activities in my 55 and older community.

For example, Synchronized Swimming.  You've already heard about that.  But this activity takes at least six hours of my time every week.

Then there is the Art Club.  I've been elected to the Board of Directors.  And I recently volunteered to chair one of our committees that I'm passionate about.  So this activity is just for me.

I'm also exercising almost every day in the pool, including Synchronized Swimming. I used to try to get my husband to come with me, but he really doesn't like it.  So I do this on my own, and he exercises with dumbbells at home or he does something else.

But what I love most about being active on my own is the friendships I make. I meet people who share similar passions and interests. It's great to talk to them about how we can all work together.

This kind of friendship is very important because research shows that loneliness is one of the biggest threats to retirement happiness.

If you don't have friends, it's much harder to enjoy life. So, take time to build relationships with people who share your interests.  You can do things without your spouse.  It gives you both time to create things to talk about with each other later.

Barbara:  A new friend at my back door, said, you know, I gotta tell you something. If you're bored here, there is something seriously wrong with you. Because there are so many clubs, so many opportunities to connect. And especially if you're in the pet section, you're going to meet people. But what she did say is, I'm a firm believer in time and space, or space and time. It's not good for you to be with your husband all the time. So you need to have some space, and you need to have time away from him. And at this point, I had been with him
constantly. And so she goes, that's what I love about golf. He goes away for five or six hours, and I can do whatever I want.

And it gives your spouse time away to recharge as well.

Be kind to your spouse!

According to Ty Tashiro, in his book, The Science of Happily Ever After, most marriages fail.  He states that only three in ten marriages remain healthy and happy, and the rest wind up either in divorce or dysfunction.

Divorce rates started climbing in the 1970s, which prompted social scientists to study marriage.

In 1986, psychologists John Gottman and Robert Levenson set up a “Love Lab” to begin a study of married couples.  They hooked the couples up to electrodes and studied how newlyweds interacted with each other.

They asked the couples to talk about their relationship, including details about a positive memory they had, a major conflict they were facing, and how they met.

As they spoke, the electrodes were measuring them.  They were measuring their heart rates, their blood flow, and how much they were sweating.

Then the couples went home, and Gottman followed up with them six years later to see if they were still married.

He found two types of couples, the masters and the disasters.

The masters were still married six years later.  These couples had the habit of complimenting their spouses and acknowledging their spouses in kind ways.

The disasters, on the other hand, seemed to find ways to criticize each other.  In their initial interviews, they looked calm.  But the electrodes told a different story.  Their blood flow was fast, their heart rates were quick, and they were sweating.

These couples showed signs of being in “fight or flight mode,” as if they were constantly prepared to be verbally attacked or go on the offense with their spouse.

It's not surprising that these “disaster couples” had either divorced or had troubled marriages when Gottman followed up with them six years later.

Gottman's takeaway was that having a good marriage boils down to kindness.  Do the individuals in the relationship bring kindness and generosity to the relationship, or do they bring hostility, contempt, and criticism?

When Les and I first married, we became friends with another couple.  This couple had some similarities to us, which made it easy to become friends. The husband was significantly older than his wife. They didn't have children. This couple was fun to be around.

But over time, Les and I stopped spending so much time with them.  The issue that I had was that the wife was constantly belittling her husband when we were alone or with other women. She didn't do it in front of him, but when I asked her about it, she said that she was just blowing off steam, I figured that I didn't want to be around such negativity since the other women in the group would also air complaints about their husbands too.

I don't really keep in touch with them, but I do know that there have been some divorces inside that social circle.

I think that the reason Barbara has such a strong marriage is because of the kindness they show to each other.  Even in times of stress:

Barbara:  And one of the things that I had to take away is that in any marriage, you're going to go through hard times, right? It's just a part of life. And we, we didn't turn on each other, which surprised me a little bit. Because you know, when things go wrong blaming can happen. Why did we do this, but for whatever reason we were it was like these circumstances, the weather, the situation was against us. So we actually kind of pulled together.

Now my husband's a repairman. He's a fixer. And I'm a project manager planner. And all of that was blown out of the water because he doesn't know how to fix a Freightliner chassis. That's not running, right. He, but he's still trying to problem solve. So, hours and hours and hours of talking about, what about this? What about this? It was mind-numbing. And me, I'm going oh, well, we haven't left yet. Oh, I better cancel. And so everything we'd spent months planning unraveled. I think the pandemic prepared me for that, though, right. It's like, okay, get your hopes up. And they're dashed again. But it wasn't because of the pandemic, it was because the thing wouldn't start.

And so one of the things my takeaway is, if you resolve to be kind to people together, it's hard. There were days when I wanted to take someone's head off, there were days where I just wanted to scream and cry and throw a tantrum. But on those days, he was always the one saying, wait a second. Let's be humble. We have a roof over our heads. We're not suffering. We've been studying Ephesians. And Paul in prison, and he goes, this is pretty cushy. Here. We have a great bath, and we have all the stuff we need.

And so the same happened with him when he gets frustrated go, you know, let's take the high road. Let's not do that. But we definitely realized how outside people could affect us because everyone wanted to help. But a lot of people were sending US Attorneys names. Lemon Law, you know, rip up a new one take the motorhome back.

And we realized that when next time our friends are in that situation, we're not going to do that. It's not helpful, because now you're defending your decisions. And to be honest, I was a little embarrassed Cathy, here, we bought this. Hundreds of 1000s of dollars beautiful, it's a beautiful motorhome. And I went dark I went silent. email, social media media, because it's like, really, you're complaining because it won't run.

And so my takeaway on enduring when things fall apart is to remind yourself that everything is fixable. Everything's repairable, nothing's permanent. And it to be honest with you got us to be familiar with our motorhome, because we picked it up and got in it. And now you're living in it without power, without water, without sewer.

And you really have to be thoughtful and mindful about how all these systems work or
don't work. So the home itself was fine. But my takeaway was in life, in retirement in an RV, things are gonna go wrong. And how you treat your spouse and how you treat each other is
going to, it's going to show any weaknesses in your relationship.

But it's also going to strengthen you. And so I would never wish it on anyone. But in hindsight, it was a good way for
us to start out.


So, listener, I hope this episode will help you with your own relationships.  Also, don't forget to listen to the next show where Barbara talks about her adventure with her husband in building a house!

And if you haven't joined our mailing list yet, just send us an email at [email protected], and we'll add you.  You can also go to the website RockYourRetirement.com and fill out the form.

Also, if you haven't already, please join the Rock Your Retirement Community!  I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say about how to Rock Your Retirement!!


This post of Retirement and Retirement Lifestyle first appeared on http://RockYourRetirement.com


Retirement journey updates with Kathe and Barbara

This episode is a bit different. You will get two updates. One will be an update about my life and another update on what is going on in Barbara’s world. Only it won’t be Barbara’s voice you hear. It will be an automated voice that is reading her journal.

Although I’m still working, I have cut way back on my hours. I am focusing more on activities outside of work. I am currently practicing for an upcoming synchronized swimming show which I am actually quite nervous about.Retirement journey update with Kathe Kline and Barbara Mock

We also have an update on Barbara Mock’s retirement adventures. Barbara kept a journal about their first major trip in her and her husband’s brand-new Recreational Vehicle.  You won’t want to miss what happened!

Lastly, if you know of someone who is retiring soon, within the next 12 months, we are looking for a new addition to the show.  Our goal is to follow different retirees from about 6 months prior to retirement to about 6 months after retirement.  If you know someone who might be interested in this project, please have that person contact me at [email protected] so we can discuss it.

This post of Retirement and Retirement Lifestyle first appeared on http://RockYourRetirement.com

Getting my Colors Done

Back in the 1980s, there was a thing called “Getting your colors done.” I never had an analysis formally completed but I’ve always thought with my dark hair and light pink skin I was a “Winter.” My favorite and most complimented colors were jewel tones, deep shades of blue, purple, and fuchsia and my signature color is black!

My daughter asked for her birthday gift to be a color analysis and wanted me to join her.  We coupled this experience with a Mother-daughter getaway and I’m so glad we did. This was something we could do together, all while learning how to look our best in this stage of our lives.  For her, working as a professional educator at a college currently from home and raising her two school-age boys and me, as a new retiree.

With my pandemic silver/gray hair and completely new activities, I’ve struggled a bit with decisions on my retirement wardrobe.  When I was working, it was easy to know how to dress for staff meetings, speaking engagements, and conferences. A uniform of black pants, a black blazer, jacket, or sweater coupled with a top in my favorite colors, add some black shoes and silver earrings and I was done.

On Instagram, she found Nicole Kaczmarek at the House of Colour in Ballard, a neighborhood in Seattle not far from the University of Washington. (houseofcolour_ballard) A former pharmacist, Nicole has pivoted like many working moms to a career that gives the flexibility to spend more time with her adorable son and husband while providing a service to her customers. Her new career increases her joy, makes her happy, and gives her life! She took a risk starting a new business during the pandemic and hasn’t looked back.

I went first and was draped with countless fabric swatches as Nicole analyzed the colors that made me look my best. Once she established that I was in fact a “Winter” on the color wheel she found my best “wow” colors. We took before and after photos and the difference was striking.  One takeaway is that in my zeal to have a new life and a new identity I had departed from what I learned I looked best in.  I have concluded that I have started spending time and money on clothes that were in style and on-trend – but just not right for me.  While I still have lots of my best colors in my wardrobe I realized that completely missing were the hot pinks, fuchsia, and a bright red. I guess I thought those colors went out of style in the ’80s and forgot about what works best for me.

Next, it was my daughter’s turn. We both had no idea where she would land on the color wheel.  The fabric draping process started again and the conclusion was that she was a summer. The entire process for two people takes about two hours each for a total of four hours.  The time flies by!

It was amazing as her mom to watch how her face became almost airbrushed and her eyes popped as her best colors were draped. One thing she learned is that highlighting her naturally dark brown hair with golden highlights doesn’t make her look her best.  After covering her hair and seeing only her roots, Nicole recognized that she needs cooler Ash tones if she is going to highlight them.  But we all concluded she would look her best to let her hair return to its natural color and fill her wardrobe with Summer colors.

In fact, during both of her pregnancies, she let her hair go back to its natural color and the clothing she chose at that time was in the Summer part of the color wheel.  Her glow in those photos wasn’t only from the pregnancy, she looked her best because the colors she naturally wore at that time were her “wow” colors.  This was a huge takeaway for her.

At the end of our session, we tried on three sets of lipstick that complements our natural look.  One for daytime, one for evening, and that one special red for those special moments.  In addition, we received a customized set of color swatches to keep on hand for the next time we are shopping or ordering clothing online.

We were both so excited to get home and go through our closets and compare to our swatches. During the entire drive, we were excitedly talking about what we learned and then when we were home we did a FaceTime call and showed each other our wardrobes. It was so easy to discard those items that were just hanging in our closets unworn. We didn’t love them because they weren’t our best colors. I have a big bag now to donate to the Thrift Store at the Senior Center.

Then it was fun to arrange our clothes in the colors of the rainbow and compare them to our before and after photos and clearly see why these items were our favorites. What I learned was many of my most recent post-retirement purchases not only weren’t my “wow” colors but they were entirely wrong for me.

I think this is a great gift idea for your wife, daughter, or friend.  It is even a gift to yourself, there are lots of men that do this as well.  After this experience I have concluded that as a retiree, life is short, so why wear clothes that make you look ill or washed out? Why not find your best colors and then make a few strategic purchases to round out your wardrobe?  Buy the lipstick that makes you feel amazing, after the masks come off you’ll look your best.

My suggestion is to take some time in 2022 as a new or long-time retiree to really figure out your new lifestyle, your activities, and the colors of your wardrobe. I think you will be happy you did!

Mother-Daughter Getaway

When I ask my kids, “Do you want a “thing” or an “experience” for your birthday?” their answers these days are an experience.  We are finding that in the days of online shopping, we all have so many “things” that spending intentional time together seems to win out every time.

In the past, my daughter and I would take a weekend or a night for an annual “Mother-daughter” getaway.  This started when she was around eight years old and we would go somewhere with her best friend and her mom. Whether it was to Canada to visit Whistler Village, Seaside, Oregon at the beach, or a play in Seattle we always enjoyed our time together.  This continued for many years right up to the time they both turned 21 and wanted to go to Las Vegas with their mothers!

This year (after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic) we finally felt safe enough to explore Tacoma, Washington, and resurrect our getaway.  After booking a room at the Hotel Murano on the “Black Friday Special” we arrived in a torrential downpour. We enjoyed a cup of seafood chowder and a charcuterie board of local meats and cheeses before visiting the Dale Chihuly Museum of Glass.

While the wind and the rain lashed the building, we were warm and cozy as we watched the resident artists make amazing glass art in the demonstration area.  Then we leisurely strolled the exhibits and learned about the history of art glassmaking in the Pacific Northwest. Spending an entire afternoon together with no schedule and no agenda is just what we both needed.

By the time we left at closing time, it was completely dark outside and we looked at the lights and the glass of the fountains and then crossed the Chihuly Glass of Bridge back to the downtown area.

We walked and walked arm in arm, enjoying the lights of the city and the Christmas tree near the Pantages Theatre, and finally turned into a highly rated little boutique restaurant called the “Over the Moon Cafe.” My daughter is obsessed with the 1920s, Downton Abbey, Art Deco, and restaurants decorated like speakeasies. Finding the perfect place for our dinner, we were thrilled that even though we didn’t have a reservation there was one little table that was reserved for walk-ins. We felt so lucky and blessed.

We shared an entire bottle of wine, a cheesy Brussels sprouts appetizer, dined on an amazing winter squash lasagna and prawn fettuccine, and capped off our evening with the bread pudding full of bits of peaches, pecans, and a bourbon sauce for dessert. Delicious!

Returning to the Hotel Murano, we put on our Christmas pajamas and cuddled up together, and watched a Hallmark movie.  The next morning we got our coffee at Starbucks, drove to Ballard for our appointment at a studio to get our colors done at House of Colours, and after an amazing four hours ended our time together at the iconic Dick’s Drive-In.

As we each drove in a different direction, my daughter south and me north, we talked on our hands-free devices and reflected on how wonderful it was to spend two days and a night together! I think during the pandemic we have all become accustomed to pausing the things we used to do.  Hopefully, we will all once again be even more intentional about spending time with our kids, enjoying each other’s company, learning something new, and sharing a meal together. If you have a child you haven’t spent much time with as a result of the pandemic I hope in 2022 you will find a way to “get away”, you’ll be so glad you did!

A different kind of Thanksgiving

Last year, with the pandemic raging, hospitals overflowing, no vaccines available, and a lack of understanding of how this virus was spreading, we chose to follow the guidance and essentially cancel our holiday.  It felt really sad and bleak to be home just the two of us while many members of our extended family still gathered.  Not seeing our kids or grandkids in person had us resorting to communicating via a sad little video that we sent to the grandkids telling them how grateful we were for each of them.  At the end, we were both teary-eyed and prayed that 2021 would be better.

This year with all of the adults fully vaccinated and some of us already obtaining our booster, we decided to go ahead with the holiday.  Washington and Oregon State all have mandatory mask mandates for any indoor activities and some counties require proof of vaccination to enter a restaurant or bar. All were careful leading up to the holiday so we decided the benefits outweighed the risks.

It was our “turn” to have all of our kids and grandkids together at our house.  (We alternate years so that our in-laws also get to enjoy everyone together, so next year we will be alone again.) Planning was in earnest weeks before the day.  Finding a turkey this year proved to be a challenge but I had ordered ahead and the truck came through.

Our oldest granddaughter helped with decorating the table and I made hand-painted watercolor place cards.  We created a long table for fourteen people, embellished with two overflowing cornucopias and native ferns, cedar boughs, and pine cones from our backwoods. She carefully placed the cards and gave specific reasons for where she chose to seat everyone.  Great-grandma near all of the great-grandkids, parents nearby and uncles, brothers, and nephews at the “taller table” so they could fit their long legs, and me near the kitchen so I could get up and get things for the meal.

On Thanksgiving morning after we prepared the sides, we all got dressed in color-coordinated outfits and braved the rain to snap some family photos.  Due to the pandemic, our annual photoshoots just didn’t happen.  It was shocking to realize it had been over three years since we had been altogether to snap a picture. The kids are growing up so fast and now I have gray hair!

At mealtime, my husband read the presidential proclamation declaring a national holiday and a day of thanks.  Then our nine-year old granddaughter read a Thanksgiving essay that she had hand-written, edited, typed, and printed along with gorgeous crayon illustrations of a cornucopia.  With emotion, she shared her Thanksgiving blessing with the large circle gathered around our kitchen island. Then we prayed as a family, thankful that a dear niece had been spared after being hospitalized for eight days with the virus, asking for a miracle for a young friend who had been diagnosed with leukemia, and finally asking for God’s blessings, health, and safety for our family and friends in the New Year.

After our delicious meal, the Nerf “war games” among the grandkids began in earnest.  The teams they had established last summer during Nana Camp continued and they were chasing around the house until bedtime.  Playing a modified form of paintball with soft nerf bullets instead of paint with ever-evolving rules, it was a blessing to the adults hearing their laughter, seeing their sweaty little bodies fly by, the loud pounding of their feet upstairs and down, and the shrieks and screams as they were frozen and then tagged.  I had flashes of my own holidays as a kid doing the exact same thing.

I felt so thankful for the delicious meal, the precious minutes of catching up with family news, recognizing that the time we spent together was positive and free of conflict, and laughing over the card games we played.  I think that had we not had the Thanksgiving of 2020 with its quiet, sadness, I might never have appreciated the raucously crazy, fun-filled Thanksgiving of 2021.  I hope that you and your family had a different kind of Thanksgiving this year as well and that you are able to recognize the blessing that being together as a family will be in 2022.


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