As couples reach retirement age, many have a plan for their financial future, but what about a plan for their marriage?
Retirement can impose some major changes to the dynamics of a relationship. As we know, changes even positive one, are stressful. Most couples do not discuss how to handle the changes that retirement brings. Men may look forward to the freedom that comes with retirement. For women, having their husband around all the time can cause a degree of anxiety. If you have not spent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together, this can be quite an adjustment.
Many couple do not have the same expectations of what life after retirement will look like. This transition is tough for couples who are happily married and even harder for those who stayed married by focusing on careers and children. It can be tempting to lead separate lives and not spend much time together. I would like to suggest a way to not only survive retirement together but learn to thrive. To do this without driving each other crazy, you need a roadmap.
By the time you are ready to retire, you have changed since you first got married. We can so get busy raising children,
building a career, and taking care of all the details in life that partners take a back seat. How much do you really know about each other? It might be time to find out. It can be tempting in retirement to go your separate ways and not spend much time together. I recommend you do the opposite. Initially this can be uncomfortable but if you give it time, you can develop a stronger relationship than you had before. Think of your partner as someone you just met and take time to get them know them.
Now it is time to start dating again. Be curious, start anew, and let go of the past. Talk about your expectations, express your
desires and dreams, renegotiate roles, and explore new interests together. Give each other your undivided attention and create new patterns and habits together. This does not mean you need to spend all your time together, it is important to keep your friends and activities. You will find a new balance between time together and alone time. Take the time to create new habits together.
Recommit to your marriage, not necessarily the old marriage but the possibility of the one you can create new together. This requires a growth mindset. Instead of looking at what is unpleasant or uncomfortable, look at what is possible. How can you stretch and grow as a person and as a couple?
One of the things that takes a back seat in many long-term relationships is intimacy and passion. Now is the time to renew passion in your relationship. You no longer have young children around, you are not tired after a long day at work, and you are in a mindset to get to know each other again and rejuvenate your marriage. What better way than to add more intimate times to your routine? What intimacy and passion looks like in your relationship will be unique to you and your partner. There might be health issue to deal with or physical limitations. This is just another area to talk about together and find ways to be intimate that are mutually satisfying. All long as you are reconnecting, recreating, recommitting, and renewing, you have a roadmap to a successful marriage after retirement.
To help you get started on your journey, I suggest this Recommitment Challenge.
One day a week, consciously commit to your partner’s happiness 100% for the entire day. If you are not sure what would make your partner happy, ask them! This is a great way to get to know them again and start creating a new relationship.
If I can help you on your journey, connect with me at www.LoriAnnDavis.com
Lori Ann Davis, MA,CRS
Certified Relationship Specialist