Barclay here –
One of our favorite pastimes is visiting Open Houses on a Sunday afternoon. Last week my husband and I met Walter, a 70-ish realtor, white-haired and jovial. “I am actually retired,” he told us. “I offered to cover this Open House for the homeowner who is a close friend.” Then he added, “It gives me something to do and I think my wife is happy when I leave the house.”
I’ve heard versions of that statement many times – from the elderly salesman mixing paint at Lowes to the gray-haired gentleman trying to manage a wordy Starbucks order. “My wife prefers I get out of the house.”
Many married retirees are striving to find balance between getting out of the house and enjoying quality time with their spouse — pursuing outlets enough to add to the conversation-table, but not so much that one spouse feels abandoned. This is tricky as relationships are dynamic and feelings are fragile. It takes both sensitivity and intentionality.
Joy and I have recently been exploring the 5 Love Languages . Have you heard of them? Knowing the primary Love Language (LL) of your spouse and becoming fluent in it can enhance your relationship and draw you closer.
We each have a primary LL – the one that, when received, makes us feel loved. Mine is Words of Affirmation, while my husband’s is likely Quality Time. Lately here in southwest Florida, we have been hanging pictures together which, like hanging wallpaper, or any home project, can go different directions when measurements don’t align and words veer toward the colorful rather than the affirming. But since my husband and I have been intentional about filling the LL tank, our wall art stayed straight and we ended up giving each other a high five and admiring our handiwork over a beer.
The key is being intentional about the filling and the receiving. An empty LL tank makes for a dry relationship. But a full tank can make even hanging pictures a delightful adventure and 35 years of marriage seem like the honeymoon’s just beginning.
So go for it. Take the quiz and then put it into practice. The result may mean that people like Walter won’t have to hide out in Open Houses or mix paint at Lowes — unless of course, they can’t wait to tell their spouse about it over wine that evening as she shares about own excursions!
Barclay had mentioned this 5 love languages stuff to me before, but this being a brand new year and a new decade, I figured it was time to give it more consideration. For me, having been married 42 years (hard to believe…yes, I was a child bride!), I occasionally face many of the same issues that I have always faced with my EPS (Ever-Present Spouse). And I have observed that if you don’t address these issues head-on, they won’t go away by themselves. A wise friend of mine here in Mexico (no names divulged) said, “If you have problems North of the border, you’re still going to have them South of the border.”
As a newly retired person (especially one who’s worked outside of the house for 40 plus years), you may find yourself suddenly spending an inordinate amount of time with your spouse. It’s a great time to ponder these questions together.
What are our goals in this new phase of life?
What do we still want to accomplish before we die?
What do we want to explore together as well as on our own?
How much space (Me-Time) do we each need?
The 5 Love Languages site provides a wonderful quiz that helps you answer how you feel about certain things in your relationship with your partner. (Click HERE) . I took it and while my score was 3 points away from the highest score you can achieve (meaning I have more than one LL), I knew (and had confirmed) that Affirmation – defined as emotional support or encouragement – is the most important action my spouse can show me.
I had my spouse take the test as well. Interestingly, his score was only a point different from mine (his was actually higher!) and Quality Time was his number one LL, with Affirmation a close second. His results surprised me. I had thought Physical Touch would be at the top of the list, but it was actually third.
What this does for a couple is to make it clear what each partner wants from the other. It’s also a wakeup call that, maybe, you don’t know this person as well as you think you do.
Take the quiz and see what happens. If nothing else, it’s an interesting exercise!
-Be open to seeing your partner in a new light. You are not the person you were when you got married, nor is he/she!
-Bearing in mind that you are going to be together a lot more, make the time interesting. Think of conversation to engage.
-Give each other space. Sometimes, your partner just wants to know you’re there. You can be reading in one room and he can be in another on his laptop, or whatever he chooses to do with his time. Be mindful that you have come through a lot together and there’s much more to come. G-D willing! Jewish people must say this after every sentence involving health!
-Be happy you have each other because you won’t always!
So…..enjoy the ride and reach for your partner’s hand!
xox Barclay and Joy
Happy New Year!
Love, love, love from Revisionist Retirement to you, our faithful readers!!