Saturday, October 22, 2011

10 Rules for a Retirement Marriages...will it be Heaven or Hell!

Sail away with me...the best is yet to come!
Gibraltar at sunrise by b
Listen up boomers.  Retirement and marriage can be a very bad mix. You thought working was hard.  You haven't seen anything yet.  So get prepared.   Men moving into a different world, women moving from one role to another. Both expecting more than the other is willing to give. It can be very hard!

I know I've told you about the time my husband moved all the silverware from one side of the kitchen to the other because it "would be better over there".  I spent a long time getting used to the new placement of something so simple as a fork.  Well, retirement marriage is like that.  The life you are so accustomed to has been misplaced or replaced and it takes some getting used to.

Hopefully, you are a couple that has always lived in peace.  You can work together and love spending time together.  But if you are not in that kind of relationship, you need to follow some basic rules of civility until you get it all worked out.   Now I know, you have dreamed of a life without rules, i.e. retirement, all of your working life.  Now I am here to tell you that your relationship with your spouse will fill some of the hours you spent working.  You can live a long time with a partner if you seldom see each other.  But when you look up day after day, weekends AND weekdays to find your spouse in the room, it is a different life.  This is not a time to begin a life of anarchy or war.  There needs to be some law and order.  Here are 10 rules of a retirement marriage:

  1. If you were the boss on your job, remember you are not the boss anymore.
  2. Arguments are bound to happen.  Play fair.
  3. It is not so much what you say as how you say it. Mind the tone of your voice.
  4. Cooperate and collaborate.  Remember the space you share belongs to everyone.  Problem solve together.
  5. Compromise.
  6. Leave for a period of time every day.  Your routine needs to include some away time.  A short walk, trip to the library or coffee with friends will work.  This gives you some new conversation topics.
  7. Help.  No man or woman want to cook/clean while the spouse sits and watches.  Cleaning is not fun for most people and neither is cooking.
  8. Go on a date.  All married people need a little romance in their life.
  9. Bite your tongue.  Remember, the person that has been doing a job all their life does not want to be told how to do it when they retire.  Your way may or may not be better.
  10. Talk about your dreams for retirement.  If your spouse expects to ride off into the sunset hand in hand and you plan to ride off into the sunset in your golf cart or with the girls in book club, be sure your spouse is on the same page.  The biggest problem I hear about is lack of communication.  It is much better to unveil the dream than to spring a surprise.  That can be a deal breaker.
So there you have it.  I am sure there are a hundred rules.  If you are like my grandson and don't want to hear about the rules because "when someone mentions the rules" you are in trouble, I apologize.  But occasionally we need a reminder or two.

Oh by the way, my husband and I have been married for 51 years (almost) and have been retired for 15 of those.  I speak from experience, both good and bad! We have endured because we always remember the most important rule of all: 
  • 11.  Have fun and laugh.  


  1. Good advice!

    I agree with you that tone is extremely important in any conversation.

    Another point that I sometimes have to remind my hubby of is "Don't think you can read my mind." i.e. Don't look for a hidden meaning behind my words. I'm saying it as I see or believe it to be.

    Will check back with you again here soon. As a writer, I may never get to truly retire, but my husband has been retired for quite sometime, so we make sure to respect the needs and (work) obligations of one another and for the most part ... it works!

    Doreen Pendgracs

  2. I think your statement about "not reading my mind" is something we all do. I read my husbands face. I see what he means even if he does not realize it. It is not good to look if you think you might not like what you see.

    I retired to a world of writing. I live it but do not make a living at it.



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