The old saying “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” was more than likely penned by a goose. (If anything, the saying should read in reverse – you know, a happy wife means a happy life!) The idea that what works for me is fine for you is at best narrow minded and at worst a recipe for disaster. There is little room for selfishness in a relationship that will have enough challenges already as we grow old together. Life should be about giving and getting, about making an effort and compromising for the better good.
In retirement where we spend most of our time in close proximity to our spouse, a successful plan of action requires behavior that is sensitive to the needs of all where both parties are happy within the situation. Independent activity and interests are an important piece of the puzzle but the majority of time will be spent together. I believe that in retirement, compromise and tolerance become the go words.
A relationship of mutual giving and tolerance typifies those successful marriages that we respect and envy. Older couples who have been together for 40-50-60 years have come to accept the little things that would quickly drive an otherwise sane person over the edge. A little annoying – perhaps – but we are committed to each other for the duration. How amazing it is to look back from our senior point of view to that young couple of so many years gone by still together, for better or worse. All that elderly couples have gone through and survived builds a foundation based on shared memories and experiences, highs and lows, good times and not so good times. This mutual history is unique to each couple and if life becomes challenging as we know it can these bonds solidified with time can be our saving grace.
How significant is it that papa Joe clacks his teeth eating corn on the cob when he willingly worked two jobs during the early days to put baby Bobby through a private education? The Mrs is getting a bit forgetful as the years advance but not so long ago she was the wizard of Wall Street as she stretched meager earnings to cover all basic needs for the family. A successful record of making it this far together is the core that can assist us in the years ahead.
A great marriage is not when the “perfect couple” come together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences. ~ Dave Meurer
That said, what can the goose do for his gander and visa versa to assure that foundation does not weaken with the onslaught of time?
– Do something to break up the routine – the same thing day in and day out becomes monotonous. And with no one in near proximity except for our spouse who do you think will bear the brunt of our restlessness? An unannounced dinner out at the new restaurant in town, a ballet for her even though he is not too keen on the whole danging-in-tights thing, flowers for no reason delivered to him or her, a back rub, a weekend away to the coast, or just doing that little something known only to you two that causes you both to laugh like kids and enjoy the moment.
– Show an interest in something that excites your spouse – it may not be your cup of tea but it is not just about the goose (or gander where appropriate). Fishing – the opera, a hockey game – a chick flick, monster trucks- shopping malls, sports bar – elegant dinner – you get the idea.
– Break out the photo album and relive the moments that brought you two to where you are right now.
Happy couples have learned how to keep both the goose and the gander satisfied.
It’s really a matter of making the effort to do the things that only you know are important to your spouse.
Don’t you want to see again that smile that results from that simple, silly something you do?
Make it happen…
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