Thursday, July 2, 2009

Marriage to Retirement - Another Fork in the Road

When I got married, it was the happiest time of my life. At the same time, combining two independent lives was full of adjustments. It involved moving, making decisions about furniture (sorry, but his rented stuff was out of there!), reorganizing storage, plus the most important personal adjustments. We had to become used to being together more, how we spent our leisure time, negotiating meals, what to watch on TV, who slept on which side of the get my drift. It was all new and exciting; but change is change, and it was also a little stressful.

My husband pointed out to me yesterday that there are significant parallels between the transition into marriage and the transition into retirement. For us, it again involved moving, selling and buying furniture, organizing storage, and other logistical challenges. Most important, we were redefining our combined lifestyle. Once again, we entered a new and exciting part of our lives together.

When some couples retire, they find that being together most of the time is a huge adjustment. Over the course of a marriage or partnership, you find a natural level of togetherness to which you become accustomed, based on your normal routines. Retirement throws those norms out the window, and you develop new habits that work for you as a couple.

For me and Ron, this has been a smooth transition. We never had children, so have always spent most of our time alone - together. For the last 12 years of our careers, we worked for the same company. We collaborated on several large projects and often took work home, continuing to discuss our professional challenges during the evening or over the weekend. Many can't imagine how this worked; but it was part of the closeness of our marriage, and we couldn't imagine it any other way.

If you aren't yet retired, be sure to talk with your partner about your hopes, dreams, wishes, and anxieties. If one of you yearns for a cabin in the woods and serenity, and the other wants a condo in the city and the high life - it takes time to work it out and come up with a compromise.

Enjoy the planning and the adjustment for the new and exciting retirement phase of your life. Life is truly a journey and, when you take a fork in the road, hopefully there is someone there to come along, hold your hand, and enjoy the view.

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