My husband and I just returned from a two week (well – ten days for him) vacation out to Iowa to visit my family and help my dad celebrate his 93rd birthday. This year, we decided to drive out, meaning that we would be on the road two and a half days one way.
Someone joked with me about it saying, “If you are still married when you return . . .” I found that an interesting comment (even though I know it was made in jest). We have always been able to get along together in the going-on-eleven years that we have been married. Oh, we have our disagreements and discussions, but we have rarely had anything that has become an issue. I think it’s because we not only respect each other a lot, but we do a fairly good job of listening to each other. Both of us are willing to find the common ground most of the time.
So, when we think of retiring, I might pose a question that the above comment prompted, “How will we manage to be together a lot more in retirement?” I know couples who have had to return to work because they discovered that they couldn’t be around each other 24/7. If Dave and I should decide to RV full time, that is something we will have to consider – how tired will we become of each other – if at all?
Traveling this summer gave us a sense of our compatibility in that situation, and I think we would do all right. I’m sure we both occasionally found irritations with each other, but the majority of our traveling time was amicable and working together to navigate our way across the country.
Whenever I counsel couples who are planning their wedding, I talk with them about communication. Most often I say, “You can love each other to the moon and back, but if you can’t communicate or close off communication, you will have trouble.” When I asked my dad what the secret of his marriage with my mom was, he said, “Communication.” They talked about everything, and they didn’t keep secrets (except for birthday and Christmas presents!) from each other.
I think there are many factors in being able to live together without too many issues in retirement, but several others are to always say you love the other person (maybe even when it doesn’t feel that way), really listen to them, give them their space, encourage them to do activities with friends, and never let the sun go down on our anger.
It’s a good start anyway! Of course, I think Dave is going to work at least for a year after retirement, so we may not face those issues, but it’s worth keeping in mind.