How to Handle 24/7 Togetherness in Retirement
Many say absence makes the heart grow fonder, yet no one seems to comment on the flipside of spending 24/7 with your partner. That’s often when the true test of love and devotion comes into play.
Constant togetherness. A blessing or something else?
You probably spent years planning the timing of your retirement, discussing where you’d live and fantasizing about the free time you’d have on your hands. What you may not have considered, is how you’d navigate spending countless hours together with your partner all day, every day. What if your partner has begun to wear on your nerves?
First, know that you’re not alone.
The fact of the matter is that most couples typically spend about six weekday hours with each other during their working years once commuting, work hours, chores, childcare and other life events are factored in. Yet during retirement, that daily interaction can quickly turn to 16 hours a day of togetherness, which can be quite unnerving!
While some couples find increased togetherness to be affirming, and they bond even more than they ever imagined, many others become frustrated by the constant presence of a partner.
In fact, there has been a sharp rise in divorced couples over 50. This trend has become so common that it has earned a nickname – a “Gray” or “Silver” divorce.
While there can be many contributing factors to older partners ending their relationships, a few simple and mindful shifts in how you interact with each other can go a long way toward saving your relationship from the retirement rut.
Keep communication lines open
The best place to start trying to strengthen a relationship is by discussing your feelings honestly without judgment or blame.
Chances are that open communication will help you to define your “new normal.” Establishing boundaries and expectations may also make both of you feel more respected in the relationship and comfortable with your new lifestyle.
Here are a few of the challenges that may be getting in the way of enjoying your retirement with your partner:
Each of you may have a different vision of how to spend your days or what the division of labor should be for household chores now that you both have flexible schedules and less responsibility overall.
You or your partner may suddenly find yourself filled with opinions about how to perform daily tasks and perhaps you can’t help but share these views with the other whether they are welcomed or necessary.
Despite your best efforts to plan your retirement, you may find yourselves worrying or arguing about money or expenses.
Although you may love each other deeply, the increased togetherness may breed boredom and even resentment if one of the partners is limited physically or mentally and not able to do all the things the other partner may want to experience.
While these obstacles may feel insurmountable, you can work toward finding common ground with your partner and chart a new path forward.
You may find that one of the simplest solutions, regardless of what may be getting in the way, is to simply spend some time apart. Try pursuing your own interests, do things with your own friends, cultivate new hobbies or volunteer opportunities and encourage your partner to do the same.
Varied experiences will help to spark conversations with your partner and you will likely discover that you are more interested in spending time together having had some time apart.
Mental health and wellness
No matter the daily challenges, sometimes depression or anxiety can cloud your judgment and impact your relationship with your partner. Be sure to take good care of yourself and encourage your loved one to do the same.
Here are some simple tips to keep yourself happy and healthy:
Get a good night’s sleep, stay hydrated and eat as healthy as possible.
Incorporate movement into your daily routine, being sure to include time outside in the sunshine and fresh air.
Consider trying mindfulness activities such as yoga, meditation or even mobility and stretching routines.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner may not be easy, but with a bit of love and effort you can rekindle your relationship and strengthen your bond. You may even find that 24/7 togetherness is exactly what you wanted after all!
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