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!
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