We continue our exploration of some of the key transitions identified by retirees who were interviewed for the book “Shaping a Life of Significance for Retirement” (Upper Room Books, 2010.) Our focus this week is the impact of retirement on our most important family relationships. Almost everyone we interviewed described changes that had taken place since retirement in the relationships with a spouse, siblings, children, grandchildren, and/or nieces or nephews. For example, most married men and women we interviewed identified ways in which the relationship with their spouse was influenced by this life transition. These effects ranged from quite positive (e.g., “it was almost like we got back the spouses we married”) to quite difficult (“the first couple of years after I retired were the most difficult of our married life.”)
Focusing on the husband-wife relationship, what are some steps that a husband and wife might take to identify differing expectations for this new phase of life, either before or in the very early stages of retirement? If you are already retired, did you encounter differences in expectations for retirement, and if so how did you work these out?
Turning to another relationship, one author who has looked at sibling relationships suggests that such events as retirement, death of parents, and illness may make these relationships closer as we grow toward and into retirement. Does your own experience bear out this observation, and if so how?
Finally, retired men and women described a number of creative ways they have fostered the relationships with grandchildren, younger nieces and nephews, and other children and teens in their lives. Are there ways that you have found effective in building the relationships with the young family members in your life?
Focusing on the husband-wife relationship... - This one is still evolving for me, personally. My husband works at home (artist) which has always been wonderful. Now that I will be home more days, it does present somewhat of a quandry to both of us. For both of us it is a time to figure out how to realize that it is not a weekend. For him, to stick to his normal routines and for me, to develop new routines.
Sibling relationships - Our parents died at a young age and other relatives live quite far away so I really don't have the experience to comment on this aspect of family life.
...creative ways they have fostered the relationships with grandchildren, younger nieces and nephews, and other children and teens in their lives. Are there ways that you have found effective in building the relationships with the young family members in your life? - We have always traveled out of the country but it was limited to the vacation periods allotted by the employer. Now that we have the freedom we are packing alot of travel in the first few years of retirement with the idea it will be easier and cheaper now rather than later. We have created a map with push pins and arrows to show all the places we go or waters on which we cruise. We bring educational books and things at each age level to help educate them about geography and cultural differences in the world.
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