Retirement and relationships
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Claire Routledge Dip Couns.Registered MBACP
3rd April, 20140 Comments
Most of us, especially those over fifty, long for the time that we can finally retire from work and start to have all the time in the world to participate in those hobbies and holidays we could only dream about before. We tend to view retirement through rose-coloured spectacles and in some cases the reality can be very different.
For some it can be a huge shock to find that our pension pots are nowhere near as good as we anticipated. For many years now the pay-outs from these pots have been dwindling and the reality is that for a majority it simply is not enough for us to maintain the lifestyle we once enjoyed and we find ourselves having to go back to work or stay at work for many years longer than we had anticipated.
Another barrier to our enjoyment can be that we are suddenly finding ourselves spending 24/7 with our partners. Whilst for some this is a wonderful time, we tend to forget that for others it can cause a huge strain on the relationship and find that when the dynamics of the situation changes so significantly it can become stifling and put a huge strain on what was once a close and loving relationship.
So then, what is the answer when spending all of your time with one person becomes unbearable, but you don’t actually want the relationship to end?
It is important to make time for yourself – spend time with friends, have separate hobbies as well as those you have together.
Talk to each other – don’t just assume that each of you is happy with the situation.
Make time to have “special” times together – go out for a meal once a month, have a weekend away, or just a night in with a film that you would both enjoy.
Be sensitive and aware of each other’s needs.
Having therapy can be very useful to help you explore new and confusing thoughts you may be encountering within your relationship or finding yourself with time on your hands and not knowing what to do with it. You may also find you are missing the structure and routine of working, as well as missing the daily catch up or gossip with your work colleagues. Therapy can offer you the opportunity to come to terms with the loss of something that has been such a large part of your adult life and allow you to focus on what you may need to do in order to make retirement the happiest it can be and share it with the people you want in your life to enjoy it with.
The bottom line is that retirement can be a fantastic time, a time when we can deservedly put ourselves first after years of hard work - either bringing up a family, earning a living or a combination of both. However our expectations need to be realistic, within our means and possible. In order to maintain the status quo be honest with yourself and with those closest to you. It is not selfish to want space or time away from the family to pursue your own interests. It can take a different type of hard work but can pay dividends to the quality of your retirement if you are prepared to put in the groundwork before turfing the lawn.
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