Guest post by Susan Vosbikian
That is the dream, but oftentimes it is not the reality. Many couples launch into retirement without considering one very basic factor – compatibility. Just a few days ago I read a blog post from an individual who was questioning whether he should take off and travel on his own leaving his spouse behind to tend her garden. It struck me as sad, but then I started to think about it. Just as being a successful couple requires a lot of work, being a successful retired couple is equally challenging – maybe even more so, because you probably have not been “just a couple” for a very long time. People change on the way to earning a living and raising a family. Now that you are back to two, adjustments are inevitable.
As a stay at home mom and part-time employee, I was able to cultivate interests beyond the childrearing and household chores, so I was ahead of the game when we sold our family business and retired six years ago. My routine was pretty comfortable and I wanted it to stay that way. My husband however had little leisure time beyond what he devoted to our family so he had not developed any interesting hobbies or favorite past-times to fill his days. We had a rocky beginning as we learned to navigate often turbulent waters, but we learned how to be a successful retired couple.
What we have learned:
1) Hobbies are important (individual and shared) –it’s never too late to learn something new
2) Friends are important (individual and shared) – you will need their support/advice on occasion
3) Too much togetherness can be a bad thing – give each other space
4) It is possible to over plan your time – leave room for spontaneity
5) You absolutely must talk about everything – assuming the other’s opinion is not good enough
6) Strength exercises are a requirement – soft muscles lead to injuries that will slow you down
7) Cardio exercises are a requirement –endorphins are so much better than drugs
8) Always have plans for the future – it gives you something to look forward to
9) Be kind to each other– less complaints and more compliments create a positive atmosphere
10) Show an interest in each other’s stuff – let him talk politics and he’ll hear your woes about girlfriends
11) Be passionate about everything you do – keeping your mind and body engaged makes you feel younger
12) Pace yourself – trying to do everything you’ve ever dreamed of in one year will wear you out
13) Stick to your budget and have an emergency fund – stuff happens
14) Don’t let someone tell you that you are wasting time – if you love doing it, it’s worthwhile
15) Trust your own formula for retirement – the grass really isn’t greener when you are happy
When the realization hit that I had to adjust to retirement along with my husband things got better for both of us. I made compromises regarding my routine and he developed interests that were exclusively his. Once we settled in to a new way of co-existing we discovered that we had a lot of shared interests and were pretty much on the same page with how to live our lives. We constantly evaluate and make adjustments to the plan but we have a common objective and are committed to each other for the long haul.
As for the guy who is conflicted about traveling alone while his wife spends time in her garden, I sincerely believe that a compromise is possible. Live well – life is good.
Suzanne Vosbikian is a former Human Resources professional/stay at home mom and her husband is a Retired CPA and business owner. They live in Florida full time and love spending time exploring their state and all it has to offer. Their interests include golf, tennis, travel, photography, writing, repurposing objects for their home, cooking and entertaining. You can follow their retirement journey at suzanneandmalcolm.blogspot