Have you noticed those cute elderly couples that obviously adore each other? You know the ones that you ask yourself ‘How did they get so lucky”. They will be together for the rest of their lives. They appear to really care for each other. They watch out for each other, they hold hands while they’re out walking or crossing the road. Nothing seems too much trouble for their spouse, and they don’t huff and puff and pull faces while they are doing it. They are genuinely happy to be there for each other and have no embarrassment about showing their affection for each other.
The question is; have they always been like this? Some may have, especially if they have no children but generally I would think that they have gone through the relationship ups and downs that most have during their life together. Many have experienced periods where relationships may have been distanced by everyday life obligations and challenges of career and family.
Do you recall those early years in your relationship where you would do almost anything for your new love? When you first meet you spend time getting to know each other. You ask questions and listen. You want to know what the other person likes and dislikes and what they want to do. You make time for them; you want to be with them as much as possible. You want them to be happy with you.
The romance stage often leads to marriage, family, and more responsibilities, often leading to less time for your relationship with your spouse, and less romance or maybe none at all. Is it any wonder that the distance grows in many of these relationships? If not recognized and dealt with this can lead to the relationship breakdown and often divorce.
If you can survive those years of work, family and growing responsibility when retirement does come around it is a new opportunity to get to know each other all over again. The fact that as we age many people do mellow could be another reason why many seniors can have such great relationships in retirement.
Keep in mind that if you haven’t been used to spending a lot of time together don’t expect it to be easy. There will be an adjustment time.
Here are some tips on how to find your relationship in retirement.
• Remember that relationships need nurturing, love, respect, patience and time.
• Be a good listener. Really listen to your partner without interrupting. Try to put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their point of view.
• Even before retiring if the day to day chores have got in the way of the two of you spending time together; start setting some time aside now! Have a date day or night. This is a great way to start a conversation about planning your retirement together.
• If there are aspect of your relationship that have been neglected or become an issue find ways to deal with it so that there is no discomfort between you.
• Be totally open with each other. Secrets have a habit of driving a wedge between you. Whether it’s related to finances, health issues or family etc talk about it with your spouse.
• Finances can be an issue at any age and retirement is no exception. You may have to do some adjustment to a changing income so set a budget together and do your best to keep to it. Irresponsible spending by a spouse can cause real problems in a relationship.
• Compatibility is key- having common interests will go a long way to having fun together and bring you closer together to reinforce your relationship. It’s not uncommon for couples to have different interests but finding something that you can both enjoy together will strengthen your bond.
• Don’t take life too seriously. Humour goes a long way to help lighten most situations. Share lots of laughter with your spouse, it really is uplifting and still the best medicine.