Your Relationship in Retirement

Many of us retire with a spouse or significant other. This is not only about Panama or retiring overseas. There are things to consider wherever you end up. I have met couples who, when retired with new quantities of free time, were driving each other nuts. One wanted more space or more attention than the other. One wanted to continue the usual activities and the other wanted to go off into new directions, taking the reluctant partner along.

Add the changes that come with retirement to the challenges of moving to an entirely new country, and there could be some bumps along the way. What if one of you is unhappy and frustrated by the challenges, and wants to drag the reluctant other back to the home country? What if your relationship has problems, and now that you don’t have the former distractions of work and a busy life, your problems feel bigger and bigger?

I recently read a good article, 1,500 PEOPLE GIVE ALL THE RELATIONSHIP ADVICE YOU’LL EVER NEED that prompted this post so I could share it with you all. It’s not just about retirement, but about healthy relationships in general. I won’t cover it here but you can easily read the headings, or read it entirely if you find it interesting.

The main points in the article that stood out to me were #5, “A Healthy Relationship means Two Healthy Individuals” and #6 “Give Each Other Space”. Maybe with the opportunity for so much time together it’s easier to lose your own individual space and interests, and that’s probably not the best thing for long term happiness in a relationship.

I have heard about a few relationships here that have failed. I hope they are the exception and as many of us as possible will be even happier in our retirement years.

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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10 Responses to Your Relationship in Retirement

  1. Kat McKay says:

    Thank you so much for that article by Mark. It was amazing and I am taking it to heart! A lot of really good advise from folks who have been together longer than us.

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  2. Lots to think about in this article, Kris. Thanks for the article. I think what helps our relationship in retirement is that we both have passions for different things, like Ron loves gardening and fishing. I love writing and my children’s library. If we had to hang out with each other all day long, I think we could get on each other’s nerves. Plus, we share passions for travel and we have delineated our chores equally. Merry Christmas to you and Joel.

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    • Exactly! You have figured out what works for you, and you have your own individual interests. We couldn’t be together 24/7 either without driving each other nuts. We divide chores too. I’m glad you enjoyed the article, and Merry Christmas to you and Ron too!

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  3. Carole says:

    Understand fully, my husband and I have different interests. I am trying to get him to find a hobby, he is not interested. I have many hobbies which he doesn’t like. He is happy just doing nothing, that is what he enjoys, tv and computer, plus we share a love of travel. He is always planning our next adventure. As long as I have my craft, gardening and painting, I am happy. I always give myself time to do those activities. If I didn’t have them, I would go crazy 24/7 with my husband.

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    • As my husband says, who is to say how a man should spend his day? I myself am trying to feel less guilty about “wasting time” since we have earned the right to do that if we wish. But I’m like you, happier with some enjoyable activities.

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  4. jim and nena says:

    Hola Kris,
    The article was a good collection of experiences on relationships and very timely for us. December 28 will be 46 years for Nena and me, and I don’t want to mess up between now and then!
    As we enter our tercera edad together I believe #7 and #13 are the most important lessons from the article. One bit of advice missing was the importance in humor, possibly as a means of communication. If Nena and I are not laughing about something at some point in each day, we are much too busy. Most days we don’t make it through breakfast before we laughing about something.
    #12 in the article addressed division of tasks but failed to mention the changes that happen during a life together. Nena cared for the kids and ran the household in the beginning; I worked. As the kids became independent, Nena went to work at jobs that she liked and we all shared household chores. Once the kids left, Nena and I divided the tasks (with MUCH less clutter!). Now that we are both retired, we spend our days together and each of us has projects that we love and some projects that we learned to do together.

    I would add #14 to the list: pick the most incredible person you can find for a partner; the rest is easy. I hear guys referring to their bride as their “better half”. I have always referred to Nena as my “better 2/3rds” because I believe she deserves the extra credit.

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    • We were talking about #7 and thinking neither of us has changed that much. We are doing different things but we are still basically the same people. But, we got married at 44 and 49, maybe after that years of the most change. #13 yes, I’m sure everyone has some waves to ride.
      46 years? Congratulations! Better 2/3.. awww, nice, no wonder you are good together. Respect and appreciation, I remember that was mentioned as important and you have that mastered. 🙂

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  5. Sunni Morris says:

    Oh my. Well Kris, I have to read that article. I would have to side with Carole above about hubby having no interest beyond TV and computer. Mine lies on the couch all day usually if he’s not working his PT job. Otherwise on off hours it’s the TV or computer consuming his whole day. I get so sick of politics and sports that I have to come to my hovel upstairs to get peace and quiet. We have to eat dinner very night watching one political show after another. I like to write and read and do crafts. We have little in common and usually fight much of the time we’re together. We’ve been together way too long at this point. (42 years). We’ve grown in different ways. Maybe that article will help. Thanks for that link.

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    • I’m sorry to hear about the situation in your marriage. It makes me think of something I read some time ago about a guy who got into politics and turned into a different person, angry, opinionated, and alienated much of his family. Thankfully he “recovered” later. Yours though, at our age it is unlikely a person will change much. It sounds like if you continue to stay you definitely need to build your own independent life and circle of friends.

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