Aleteia

How retirement brings a unique opportunity for married couples

ELDERLY COUPLE
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It is a new stage in life — and one in which spouses can find great enjoyment.

Retirement is not what it used to be. For many people today, it comes sooner than in previous generations. When planned carefully, this new stage of life becomes an excellent opportunity to revitalize your marriage.

Learning how to communicate again

The spectacular breakthroughs made in medicine have dramatically increased our life expectancy, providing the elderly with longer years of retirement. But it’s not easy to see eye-to-eye after so many years of leading parallel lives. So long as retirement remains a distant prospect, people tend to fantasize about it. But when this time actually comes, they may be disillusioned. Instead of becoming the high point of their lives and a reward for so many decades of hard work, this eagerly anticipated moment can spell the end of all hopes.  

“Once, my husband used to be so active, but now he hardly wants to do anything. I have planned gazillion things for us to do …” deplores Diane.  The tragedy of so many couples consists in diverging spheres of interest and sensitivities, which come to light once the partners find themselves face-to-face together. Rediscovering one’s own spouse after so many years may involve its share of pain, suffering, and disappointments. Two partners blissfully unaware that all these years they’ve been leading separate lives, wake up to a realization of having grown apart.  

Children can sometimes eclipse the pain felt by two parents who have forgotten how to communicate with each other. But once they’re gone, the couple falls apart. Retirement can be an opportunity to revive a couple’s relationship

Daily thoughtfulness and prayer

When each partner does his best to sustain and nourish his love and passion for the other, the transition from one stage to another is smooth and filled with romance. “I feel like a blushing bride,” exclaims Simone, still surprised to see her husband every morning. “When he used to work, John was always away and had little time for the family. But it’s been always easy for us to talk with each other. We plan things together, even if oftentimes it’s been a challenge, because we saw so little of each other before,” she claims.  

Retirement allows two partners, made seasoned by the past experiences they’ve shared and the tribulations they’ve overcome, to become reacquainted with one another. Since he retired, Peter sees his wife with fresh eyes. “We have traveled a long road together, and today, I want to revive our love. It’s a permanent quest for daily attentions and a lot of praying. I call on the Holy Spirit to reignite our passion.”

When love is revived

This tenderness is a revelation for many couples. It’s as if in accepting to leave their professional life behind, they’ve been offered a chance to enjoy something more intimate and genuine. Hand in hand with her partner, Joanna confesses, “Forty-three years together have nurtured the deep love we feel for one another. We possess an intimate knowledge of each other. Today, we love one another with all our health problems, wrinkles, and graying hair.”  

Retirement offers couples the time to truly accept one another for who they really are; to say what they haven’t said before, and to forgive each other. These are not some half-hearted words of forgiveness, but compassionate words that bring joy – the joy of watching one’s love return and grow stronger.

As to the forgiveness, it is both liberating and invigorating, offering peace and quiet as well as the perfect conditions to fall in love all over again. To love is to forgive and to forgive is to reinvigorate.

Pascale Albier

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