If you and your spouse are retired or about to retire, perhaps you’re wondering what this next stage of your lives together will be like. It’s not uncommon for couples in their 60s to start considering moving to a retirement community. What’s that going to be like? And more specifically, how will such a move impact your marriage?
Surprisingly, many retired couples find that their marriage seems to flourish in these communities. To their delight, they discover relationship benefits that they’d never even thought of! Here’s a little peek into the ways moving to a retirement community can benefit your marriage.
Fewer Things to Fight About
For a quarter of divorcees, fighting over chores is the top reason for divorce, according to Harvard Business School. Web MD agrees, citing arguments over home chores to be a common problem that’s easily solved by hiring a cleaning service.
Depending on what type of community you choose, there may be a cleaning service, landscaping, and maintenance included in your plan. Even if you opt out of such services, moving to a retirement community often means downsizing – i.e. fewer chores to fight about! Either way, once you’re freed from the onerous tasks that used to make you quibble, you’re now free to turn your attention to spending more time together (quality time!).
Household chores may not be the only thing causing stress in your relationship. Did you know that home expenses could be more financially and emotionally taxing than you previously believed? Click here to read about the hidden costs of home ownership.
A Renewed Appreciation for One Another
Speaking of quality time together, here’s another plus.
When you’ve been together a long time, it’s common for couples to sink into routines. This can certainly be a good thing, but when following a routine leads to falling into a rut, it’s time to take action. One of the best ways to shake things up is to socialize more.
As we age, however, our social networks shrink. When there are fewer couples your age to talk to or do things with, that puts social pressure on your relationship. All this can add up to some serious irritation with your spouse! Having friends over for a casual dinner at your place, for example, is a good pressure valve for the social needs that both you and your spouse may have. When we watch our spouses interact with others, it reminds us of all the things we love about them.
Moving to a retirement community means that your neighbors are quite possibly in the same situation. They’re living a new chapter in their lives, their friends have moved away and the old neighborhood just isn’t the same any more. And like you, they’re probably aching to meet new people.
When you and your spouse socialize with other couples, it not only relieves the social needs you both have, it also reminds you of the good qualities of your spouse. In other words, instead of grumbling about what’s wrong with the world to each other, you’re both out there showing your best sides to your new friends!
A Revived Sense of Self
As outlined above, one of the downsides of retiring is that your social circles shrink. That can also mean that you and your spouse rely more heavily on one another for getting around and doing the things you like. For instance, if you have a passion for visiting museums and you always visited new exhibits with an old friend who’s since moved away, who do you go with now? It’s probably your spouse!
A strong sense of self and independence from your spouse is one sign of a healthy marriage. Now that you do almost everything together, that sense weakens. Luckily, that problem is easily solved when you move.
One of the most overlooked benefits of moving to a new community where there are lots of other retired people around you is that you’re suddenly able to do fun things with other people. Boston psychotherapist Angela Ficken advises keeping your hobbies in order to maintain a strong sense of self in any relationship (but especially a long-term marriage!)
Click here to learn about the importance of socializing as we age (with people other than our spouse.)
No more dragging your spouse to do things they don’t want to do. Just find someone in your new network who enjoys the things you enjoy, and voila, problem solved. You’ll feel happier and stronger when you can just “do you” and so can your spouse! Plus, you’ll have exciting new topics to discuss when you’re together.
Security for Your Future
Uncertainty about the future causes stress in most relationships, and for retired couples, it’s often an acute level of stress. As we all know, stress is no good for marriage! When you’re retired, that stress can come in the form of wondering what will happen if one of you should fall sick.
You may both be relatively healthy now, but what if someday one of you gets seriously sick or even chronically ill? Recognizing the importance of planning for the future, lots of couples opt for retirement communities where they can age together no matter what happens.
It’s more common these days that people are living well into their 80s (or even their 90s). It’s smart to be prepared for unforeseen health issues that could cause one of you to require extra assistance or ongoing medical care. If and when that occurs, a lot of tough decisions might need to be made. What will happen if one of you needs to move to assisted living? Will the other continue to live at home…alone?
When healthcare professionals are always nearby, that gives you both peace of mind. And if one of you will someday need round-the-clock assistance or care, it’s good to know that you’ve chosen a community where if you needs change, there are various levels of care so that you can both still live together. Many communities offer the complete range of options, from independent living where you live completely in your own home, to assisted living where some services are available, or even skilled nursing where someone who needs 24-hour care won’t have to be removed from the place where they feel comfortable and where their spouse can still be footsteps away.
It’s a rare couple that doesn’t experience a few relationship stumbling blocks along the way – especially couples that have been together a long time. Very often, these bumps in the road are due to a few common problems faced by many couples. Moving to a retirement community may not solve them all. But, as you’ve just learned, there are some great benefits for couples who do choose that path. If you make the move and see some of your relationship issues resolved as a result, you may even wish you’d moved sooner!
To learn more about retirement living and preparing for the next chapter in your life, read these articles by Acts Retirement-Life Communities: