How to ride the seesaw of communication in retirement
Communication in retirement can be a challenging problem that must be faced. Each partner has spent many of the recent years focused on individual areas related to their responsibilities. Which one of these scenes are you facing now? It starts with the inner communication in retirement that each partner has with himself.
His Inner Communication in retirement
You did it! Yesterday was the last day you were employed. You got up in the morning. Did the regular 40-minute commute and found the same parking space you’ve been using for years. That office you worked so hard to get is no longer your environment. Boss and co-workers took you out to lunch and “nice words” were said about your contribution to the company while you finally got that free lunch. And yes – that watch they gave you will come in handy – though you’d rather they had given you a new Apple iPhone or a new laptop. Guess that’s what that bonus check is for. $1000 for each year with the company is a very nice bonus. We can use that.
Today. Wow! Today. What are you going to do? Funny – no alarm and yet you’re still up at the same old time. TV on. Let’s see what’s going on in the world today. Same old – same old. Politics is still center stage on all the channels. Don’t need to waste time listening to this anymore. You’ve got your weekend clothes on and probably should do some of those chores around the house that you’ve been putting off. That last project at work you were focused on is still floating around in your head. You wonder how it’s going to turn out. Brain – turn off. It’s not your problem anymore. Maybe you could call your office-mate and ask him to let you know how it turns out?
The weather outside is lovely. So, off you go to drink that first cup of coffee sitting on the porch. Wish the wife was here. Would be nice to have someone to talk to. The lawn needs mowing. Again. Now if only that could be retired too. Wait – maybe it can.
Your mind wanders to that Caribbean island that you’ve dreamed about. Maybe it’s time to sell this house and fly away there to live. Sailboat on the dock. Fishing there too.
And sunshine every day. Have to talk to the wife about that. We could really do that. The living is cheaper in the islands. Why not?
Interrupted by Reality
Let’s see. Some other things I’ve got to do. Oh yes, must get lined up to apply for that Medicare. When does Social Security start? Need to check on that. Can that be done online? And must call the financial planner and see where things stand there. Should have done that before but just didn’t get around to it.
You begin to wonder how you’re going to live on an adjusted income with no salary and no regular raises and promotions coming in. Did you save enough to live this life you’re thinking of living? You don’t even start to think about the debts you currently have. No time for downers today.
Wife has been reminding you that you’re due for a check-up with the family doctor – have to make an appointment for that. And probably need to see the eye doctor and dentist too. It’s a good idea to get all those things taken care of right away so they aren’t hanging over you. Wife thinks I might need a hearing aid too. I hear fine – but getting that checked will stop the nagging. I do notice that there are some people on TV that I’m having trouble hearing. People don’t talk as clearly as they used to do. She says she’s noticed that too.
Gosh. There’s a lot of things I need to do. Should have brought a pad and pencil out with me. I hope I can remember all of them. But I’m sure if I forget anything my wife will remind me. She’s really good at that.
Car needs service – better get that done. Maybe look at new cars while you’re out there too? Time for that sports car finally – except you wonder if you can really get in and out of it anymore? Maybe a truck would be a better choice – that new 150 is worth looking at or better still that super duty one.
Escaping the planning and decision-making
I think I’ll putter around in the shop today. I do love working with wood. And I’ll surprise my wife and plan on using the grill tonight to fix supper so she doesn’t have to cook when she gets home from work.
Oh dear. Hadn’t thought about the wife’s work. She still has two more years before she’s ready for retirement. Actually – almost 3 more years before she’s eligible for Social Security. But – if she retires now, she can go on my Social Security until she’s eligible for hers. I think that will give us more income. Have to talk to the financial planner about that too. She just started that business but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind giving that up.
Her side – Thoughts about His Retirement
Wow! Hubby’s retired. Wonder what he’s doing today? I wish he would take over some of my work while he’s home every day now. Things are going to start getting a lot harder now without his regular income. No more raises and promotions. We’re going to have to sit down with that financial planner and talk about what exactly we’ll have to live on. It’s scary. I’ll have to really try to put as much of my income now into savings for when I retire and to pay down more of our debts. Certainly, it’s not the time to add to those charge cards. We still have an awful lot of debt. He’s done a wonderful job of keeping us afloat all these years – what with putting the children through college and then those weddings. But there’s still a lot that needs to get paid off.
I have to remind him that we’ll be needing to look into life insurance policies now that he doesn’t have that company policy anymore. Can’t die leaving debt for the children – they have enough of that on their own these days.
I do hope he makes a check-up appointment with the doctor. After that heart attack he had, I still worry about him. I do want him to enjoy life and I want him by my side. Which reminds me, I too need to get a check-up soon too. We’re both overdue for dental appointments too. And eye appointments. Must remember to make those appointments when I get the chance.
Looking at where she is now while he’s retired
I can’t believe I’ve finally got my own business. Wow! So many years home raising the children and making sure their needs were met. I paid off the last of the student loans last week. Wish I could take on some of the debts they have but that’s not in the cards. They’ll have to take care of that themselves.
I love the fact that I’m now financially contributing to the household. It’s so nice to see something I want and go ahead and purchase it. At least for many things. But now with hubby retired, we’ll have to work at getting totally out of debt. There’s still a mortgage on the house and a note on the car. They say you’ll always have those but I was listening to Dave Ramsey this week on the radio and he’s advocating totally debt free-living. Wish I had him around earlier in my life. I’ll have to try to get hubby to read his book – The Total Money Makeover.
Oh dear, I have to call and remind him that we’re going to the daughter’s tonight for dinner. It’s the youngest grand’s birthday today and they’re having a family party. I do love spending time with the grandchildren. It’s so nice to be able to play with them without the responsibility of raising them. Daughter and her hubby are doing a nice job of parenting. Guess some of what we taught her is working well.
She Looks at the Future in her inner communication in retirement.
We’ll have to think about getting a smaller house now. One with less maintenance and lower property taxes.
I wonder when I’ll retire? I’m really enjoying being my own boss these days. And the company is doing far better than I expected it to do. We’ve been asked to start-up a branch in the next county. My health is pretty good. Maybe I can do this for another 5 or more years. That would be wonderful.
I spent so many years at home with the children doing small jobs to help with finances and now to finally have the chance to do something this big is just awesome. I can hire someone to do the housework now and we can go out for dinner more. The way things are going right now, I think by spring we might be able to get away and take a cruise somewhere. I’d enjoy that.
It’s the things like that, that I enjoy the most. Being able to get my hair done once a week and those monthly trips to the spa. Such a treat for me after foregoing all that so the children could have more of what they needed. Dance lessons for daughter versus hair appointment? No brainer there. Spa days versus Scout camp for the son? Of course, I want him to go camping and learn all those outdoor activities. I’ll have to try to take daughter with me to the spa when she can get free. Maybe hubby could watch the grands and give her a break?
The Differences of communication in retirement
Husbands and wives look at retirement very differently. Just as husbands are finally retiring many wives are just getting started in the area of their careers where they can afford to take some risks to follow their dreams and ideas.
Both have spent years focused on different things. He on his career and she on raising the children. Now as he retires, she’s just getting started on the rise of her career path.
There are no co-workers for hubby to chat with and she isn’t going to PTA and classroom days concerned with the children.
The family that has maintained regular church attendance has one area that continues into retirement. Friends from there are very likely in the same age group and are facing similar problems. It’s a good place for starting discussions and dealing with solutions to problems that arise. Socialization with this group can prove to be very beneficial.
Learning new avenues of communication in retirement
Very often couples at this stage are faced with learning new communication avenues: how to talk with one another instead of to one another. During the earlier years, interests have taken different paths and finding common topics to share about is often difficult. Both need to enhance their listening skills and compromise must play a strategic part. Roles in the home may change and finding areas of mutual interest takes work and a wanting to be there for one another. Both must realize that each needs time apart to continue their individual interests. It’s a time where they often become married singles – living together but not sharing their life interests.
Possible Solutions to communication in retirement
Having reached the point where you have accomplished many of your life goals, the idea of counseling seems abhorrent to each of you, but it may be needed if you are going to progress in your relationship. Counseling should be thought of as a desire to reconnect with one another rather than any failure on either’s part.
It’s also a time when you have the time for one another without the interruptions of work and children. It’s important to plan time for one another. Taking an extended vacation together is not a waste of money, but rather a time to refresh the love that brought you together in the beginning. This too can be a bone of contention when each of you has different ideas of what you would like to do and where you would like to go.
My advice would be to make sure that having extended time alone together is the primary focus for this get-away. Picking a vacation that is totally different from either’s desire may be a great option. Such a choice gives you a shared experience that forms a new area of togetherness. He would love to take a vacation deep-sea fishing while she would love to explore Disneyland in hopes of taking the grands there in the future. Instead – both might want to consider an African safari.
Totally different and out of the range of what either is thinking about. What is needed are new common experiences that give you a starting point for sharing ideas, thoughts, and feelings with a touch of rekindled romance. Taking the wedding album along with you is also a suggestion for opening memories of what brought you both together at the start.
The second advantage of such a vacation is that usually at this point in time, both of you are in physical condition to cope with and enjoy a vacation. You’re able to do the walking and traveling now, where 10 years down the road one or the other of you or both may have physical limitations brought on by aging that makes this an impossibility. And yes, physical changes do happen that fast as you advance in age.
Call to Action:
I’ve prepared a worksheet (or I’d rather call it a love sheet) for each of you to do. You can pick up your copy of the ‘Love sheet” here. Print out two copies and each of you fills it out and then share the answers with one another. It’s a good start for learning where each of you is right now. And for those of you who are single, it’s also a good exercise for you to really think about what this era of retirement means to you and what your expectations are. Enjoy the exercise and let it count for the first step in communication to help make retirement happy and profitable for you.
And as always, If you haven’t done it before, sign up for Nana’s News in the box below. You’ll get more hints, helps, and hugs from Nana.
Love, Hugs, and Prayers,
“This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Want to read some more?
Get Nana's News
And pick up your copy of the Retired Couples LoveSheet