Retirement Relationship Strategy: Single or Married

Your relationship view tends to begin to look differently in the second half of life?

There is nothing like a 3 month lockdown to decide if you love the one you are with or if you are single, are you ok if you are not in or may never be in a couple relationship?

In this episode: 

Retirement Relationship Strategy: Married Or Single

For many people somewhere between 55-70 we begin to look toward retirement and whether you are in a relationship or not navigating the retirement relationship road requires some maneuvering and figuring out significant other relationships.   Making a relationship work is a lifelong process and it doesn’t mean it gets easier the older you are.  Relationships in midlife tend to change.  Life circumstances such as retirement or becoming an empty nester allow you to refocus on your relationship or perhaps now give you time to begin one.

Your relationship view tends to begin to look differently in the second half of life?

There is nothing like a 3 month lockdown to decide if you love the one you are with or if you are single, are you ok if you are not in or may never be in a couple relationship? 

Relationships are tricky at best and these last few months have given us all much time for reflection.  There are several categories that we all fall into and some revelations that became clear.

  1. If you were single it possibly was an incredibly lonely time.  The isolation created one of 2 things….Either you became depressed or you used that time for personal growth and reconnection.
  2. If you were dating but not officially a couple it was confusing.  Was there enough chemistry without contact for that relationship to continue?
  3. If you were living with someone and not married it was an excellent time to determine if they were the one.  Nothing like spending 7/24 with someone to determine if you want to spend the rest of your life with them.
  4. If you were married it tested the limits of your love and may have been a relationship tipping point or a relationship rescue.

After 50 is an interesting time for relationships whether you are married, single, widowed or divorced. Mental and physical transitions begin to occur.

  1. Physical aspects of our bodies change. Let’s agree, the force of gravity is at work. 
  2. You begin to truly love yourself and you become much more comfortable with who you are.  When you are happy with who you are on the inside you become confident who you are on the outside.
  3. Emotional Intelligence improves. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results using personal and social competence and that comes with experience and time.
  4. We become more set in our ways and find we are more clear on what is acceptable and what is not in our lives.

Retirement For Couples opens a whole new level of relationship territory. What is  retirement with my significant other going to look like? Do I like them well enough to spend every single day with them?  And if you are not completely enamored with your relationship how do you find love you once had or get it back if you have lost it?

If you are a couple there are lots of reasons relationships struggle after being together for some time.  Here are a few potential barriers to overcome. 

  • Not carrying their weight with day to day responsibilities 
  • One person is retired & one is not 
  • Control freak; Type A personalities
  • Health and fitness goals may be different or not aligned; With aging comes mental health challenges, disease and physical limitations
  • Financial & Money differences; she’s spending money and I want to save; he golfs too much
  • Housing Differences – Downsizing; 2nd home
  • Sexual Differences – Some of the happiest couples I know are sexually active over 60
  • Social life differences – Are you an introvert or extrovert? 
  • Travel – Are you an international traveler or homebody?
  • Hygiene – People let themselves go and not taking care of themselves
  • Substance abuse – alcohol/drug and other addictions
  • Physically or emotions abusive 
  • Emotionally absent;  
  • Nothing in common

For singles in retirement  there are different concerns.

Finding love after 50 definitely gets harder the older you are and coming to the conclusion you may be alone in your retirement is a potential reality for many and if you are single there are alot of factors to think about in retirement as it pertains to relationships.

  • Dating after 50;  We all come with a lot of history.  Enough Said.
  • With divorces at an all time high in the 50+ age range and likely someone has been married 1-2-3 times.  The rate of divorce after age 50 has doubled in the U.S. since 1990 
  • Who is our support system? 
  • Financial concerns; ½ of the money to live on
  • Money incongruencies if you are in a relationship
  • If you are considering a relationship there are children & inheritance in the mix
  • Maybe you have never been married; Lifestyle differences
  • Finding someone who is aligned with your values and goals

So what do we all really want?  These guidelines whether you are single or have a partner can help establish a solid relationship.

  1. Build a relationship with yourself. The relationship we have with ourselves is the key to success for all the relationships we build with others. When you are happy and fulfilled independent of others, you are most attractive to the kind of healthy, happy people you want in your life.
  2. Open your heart fearlessly. Easier said than done.  To be successful in a relationship, you can’t be afraid to be yourself and share yourself. 
  3. Create emotional safety. Healthy relationships depend on both parties feeling safe with each other, trusting that you are there for each other. Your circle of trust gets more important as you get older and as you must cope with the changes and anxieties that aging involves.
  4. Be available emotionally and physically.  If your partner needs you to help them stand strong during trying times, illness, grief, family matter if you’re in the relationships then be there!  We all know there are unavoidable life circumstances that take us away at times but when your partner asks you for help or support step up!

Do not get into a relationship with someone who is available only when it is convenient to them.  Do not get involved in relationships with someone who you know will never be fully available to you.

  1.  Address conflict in a spirit of love. A successful relationship requires successful conflict. Approach every disagreement with the intention to listen fully and respond in a spirit of love. Instead of responding in a knee-jerk way when your partner says or does something that upsets you, examine your feelings and mindfully consider what the other person said. 
  2. Practice positive communication. The way you communicate with your partner is vital because what you say—and how you say it—affects how your significant other feels, and emotions drive behavior. Some key principles of positive communication:
  • Avoid negative language. When you use words like no and don’t, you invoke your partner’s natural resistance to being controlled. Instead, tell your partner what you want rather than what you don’t want.  A little appreciation goes a long way. 
  • Avoid criticism. Remember: Success builds success. Instead of focusing on the things you dislike about your partner, focus first on what he or she does well and connect that to the behavior you’d like to see him or her change.
  • Give your undivided attention. How often do you see couples out to dinner together with their heads buried in their cell phones and barely speak to one another.
  • Be Present. The phone call can wait and the text message most likely isn’t an emergency.  If you are in conversation then be in it.  Glance at text messages while talking to their partner. This seemingly small behavior has a big impact on how you make your partner feel. 
  • Tell them what they mean to you. This seems very simple.  Sometimes you may start to think that your partner can read your heart and you don’t need words. Totally not true. Words are still necessary. Consciously choose to actively show appreciation—finding things to appreciate in your partner to enhance the good feelings between you.

7. Support your partner’s independence. No matter how close you are to your significant other, you remain individuals with your own needs and interests. Spending time alone doing your own thing shows mutual respect, not relationship strain. Advocate for your partner’s goals, and accept and support each other’s life goals.

8 . Enjoy special time together. Don’t forget to have fun together. It’s important to go on new adventures and try new things. Don’t have a typical “date night.” Instead of dinner and a movie, take a class together or go on a day trip somewhere. As you grow older and face mortality, your relationship with your significant other provides an opportunity to explore your humanity and seek a better and deeper understanding of life.

If you’re dating for the first time in a long time, don’t be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve. It’s the only way people will know what you want and what you’re about. 

If you’re celebrating your 40th  wedding anniversary, remember that even though it may feel you and your partner are one person, you still need to say, “I love you” and show your appreciation. Show affection. 

This time in your life can be the best time or the worst time.  You decide. 

Have fun. Have sex. Be adventuresome. 

Love with the intensity of a teenager and the wisdom that your years on this earth have given you

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