Relationship Coach: Stay Social for a Happy Marriage Post-Retirement

May 18, 2016 by

The kids are off at college. You’re financially comfortable enough that you can retire. Now, all that’s left is to spend your Golden Years enjoying the company of your beloved spouse.

But after a brief “honeymoon” period, things take a turn for the worse. He’s hanging on you all the time. She’s always off with her friends. You have less in common than you remember from years ago. And everything just feels frustrating and depressing.

Your first reaction may be to blame your marriage or your spouse, but experts say one of the biggest reasons for post-retirement relationship dissatisfaction is over-dependence. One or both partners expects that their spouse will now spend all of their time with them, fulfilling all of their social needs.

Not only is this unrealistic, it’s unhealthy! Human beings are social creatures. Depending on one person for everything can’t help but lead to feelings of disappointment and dissatisfaction.

What’s the solution? Branch out.

Take a class. More than anything else, retirement brings with it the gift – and curse – of time. Initially you may enjoy spending that free time doing absolutely nothing, but very quickly that is likely to become boring. Instead, “relax” by learning about things that always interested you.

Maybe this means taking a writing class so you can pen that novel that’s been percolating for the past few decades. Or getting dance lessons so you can surprise your spouse on your anniversary. Or cooking lessons – for the same reason!

Not only will you learn something, you’ll get to meet and interact with new people. Plus, you’ll have something to talk to your spouse about.

Reconnect with old friends. Kids and work can cause friends to grow apart because you just don’t have time to hang out – but now you do. Catch up with people you haven’t seen for a while and see if you can make a regular thing of it.

These “dates” can involve just you or both you and your spouse – ideally, you’ll have a mixture of both kinds of social events.

Explore interests. You don’t need a class to do something new. Go hiking. Take up golf. Join a group that collects something you like or engages in a hobby you’re interested in pursuing. With sites like Meetup.com, it’s easier than ever to find other people with similar interests and get to know them while doing something you find fun.

Get out. Sometimes being social just means actually leaving the house. It doesn’t matter if you walk around the park, go to the bookstore, or simply sit at the local café and enjoy a coffee. Being around other people can be incredibly beneficial.

Still not sure how to put yourself out there? Or feeling uncomfortable about doing so? Contact a Portland relationship coach who specializes in helping older couples navigate this major life change.