I just read an article by a favorite retirement author on the similarities of the Empty Nest Syndrome and Retirement. The article compared feelings of parents when their children leave home as young adults with those of retirement. For me, it called to mind the retirement transition that most of us face. While some of these transitions are painful, the situations can open a new world for discovery and growth.
Our children have been living on their own for two decades or more. While I missed them when they went off of school, then careers, it’s long enough ago that I won’t try to recall the feelings. Retirement surprises and feelings however, are fresh enough to appreciate the transitions we’ve experienced over the past nine years.
Our friends might say, “Art only half-retired,” and I’d have to agree. Instead of leaving the company when its US operation closed, he agreed to stay on and oversee operations in China and Switzerland. The hitch was … he retired to my kitchen counter. His setting up office in my work space didn’t feel exactly like my idea of a copasetic retirement transition for either of us. However, time passed, and we both adjusted…sometimes well—other times it took more effort.
Perhaps our biggest retirement mistake was that we hadn’t done any real discussion on our individual goals for this life stage. That’s primarily because we hadn’t even begun to think about retirement, and didn’t have much time when his half retirement came upon us. Initially we thought we would just continue as we had, living our own schedules while also enjoying one another’s company. Eventually we learned that it’s not realistic to take one day at a time. It’s much better to have a sense of what each person in the relationship needs and wants for the long term as well as for a daily routine.
In spite of all this, we learned to appreciate and respect one another’s goals. We learned we are separate people with different needs who also seek a joyful life together, and that takes planning.
The joy of these experiences is that today we can look back on the adjustments we—and most retired couples—experienced. Adjusting to 24/7 togetherness, finding purpose in retirement and respecting a partner’s quirks are necessary for retirement transition. Retirement is not just one stage; but a series of events growing to deeper love and concern for one another.
Looking back on your early retirement, what do you consider your most joyful days? What were your most difficult days? Why? Which of those days did you decide you wanted to preserve? Which actions, feelings or experiences did you want to eliminate forever? As mature retirees we can dictate much of how we feel about certain events. We also can dictate how we let our experiences affect our feelings about our current life and relationships.
We may not be able to eradicate all illnesses, experiences, or situations. However, we can determine how we let those experiences affect us on a daily basis. As we age, we may begin to take more time to appreciate our partners. We’re enriched when we value what each of us has done for the other. We become more grateful for our partner’s presence in our lives and grow in the joy of being together.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s not too late to look at the positive things you and your mate have done for one another. Take time to discover and appreciate mutual values. Share your appreciation for those gifts. These simple acts will enrich your relationship more than you can imagine.
I also would like to draw your attention to a short article by Steve Horsman that could be one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve read in a long time. Though it is directed to young couples, it’s perfect for every age group.
Life is not measured by the number in your bank account, but the memories you create.
Cooper Mitchell Dane, financial, LLC.
drawing courtesy of :