27 July 2008

The Post-Retirement Wars: Too Much Togetherness

Time with your partner. Well, if you have a partner, retirement certainly helps you draw swift conclusions about him or her. Chances are, you won't have had this much togetherness with this person since you were dating. That's when you wanted to spend long days together, lazing around your apartment with no more than a single outing to a cafe to break up the day. Now, you are in retirement with this person and the apartment is probably replaced by a house and yard—and the cafe is more likely the patio outside Starbucks, and it's actually the place you use as an escape. From your partner in retirement.

There is no such thing as preparation for the adjustment to retirement with a partner. You can fret over finances, set up annuities, reverse-mortgage your house, fund your 401K, and a host of other strategies to "prepare" for retirement. None of them addresses the challenge of sharing a home with time on everyone's hands. (Of course, some couples fix that: one of them keeps working, and it's sometimes only to keep the peace.)

It also doesn't matter how much you know, except when that's too much: It doesn't matter if you have a doctorate in family studies and can quote research on human development, family dynamics, and couple communication. (Oh, that's me.) That knowledge doesn't really arm you for the skills you need, mainly the ability to bite your tongue. And the knowledge can even cause a new problem: if you've studied longevity then you know that retirement may go on for decades. Ideally the adjustment to togetherness will take months, not years, but the thought of 40 more years of togetherness may be disheartening when the adjustment is still underway.

On a personal note: Tom Bold is the star of this column. I could hide the facts of his maddening habits at home (he sits either at the kitchen bar or on a favorite couch—that's all, just those two spots), of his lack of outside contact (he goes to Walmart and..., no, just Walmart), and of his primary pastime (he plays a computer game that I stubbornly do not learn the name of), but the greater public service is to tell you. These facts can either assure you that your own partner is not so unusual, or make you feel smug that yours is superior in habits. ~ Lida

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

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