The first steps in my Life Reimagined - When AARP approached me to do a trial of their Life Reimagined program, I saw it as an excellent opportunity to hear some fresh voices other than the ones ...
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Retired Spouse Syndrome
I'm reading an excellent book right now. As Time Goes By - Abigail Stafford - it has the subtitle :- Boomerang Marriages, Serial Spouses, Throwback Couples, and Other Romantic Adventures in an Age of Longevity!
It's of particular interest to me because, like so many of my generation, I'm "unplanned" single at a time of life when companionship is so enriching. I was widowed four plus years ago and have dabbled in a couple of promising relationships in that time. In reading this book I see why they were destined for failure - in each situation we were at vastly different stages of life and the common ground beyond a strong physical and intellectual attraction was non existent. Sure, we had interests in common but not life stage in common. In one case he was throw caution to the wind, adventure above all and stability be dammed; in the other he only identified through his career, no sense of self existed beyond that sphere and so the chance to really connect with another human being was doomed from day one. No balance in life in both cases.
Today the New York Times reports a bright note in the economy - a upsurge in Matchmaking Services and both Match.com and E Harmony report large increases in subscribers over the past six months. We want to be connected and even more so in troubled times. The idea of weathering out a storm alone holds little appeal; there is comfort in a hand to hold; in companionship.
The Retired Spouse Syndrome that Stafford writes of hit close to home recently. A long married couple in my circle are contemplating divorce. What started out as a throw-away line over dinner has now become the topic of serious discussion. They agree that they are "used to " each other but that they don't enjoy being around one another all the time. He recently retired from a high-powered position in the financial world and admits to missing being "important". They bicker constantly and at a recent dinner party, the atmosphere was so loaded that it was uncomfortable. The latest bulletin is an agreement to spend some time apart to "think things through". She's going to visit a sister in New Zealand and he's staying at home claiming, "travel isn't what it's cracked up to be, been there done that". I have the feeling that she will see the world as an exciting place offering opportunity while he becomes increasingly bitter and isolated. What a shame. Being at the same stage in life appears to be crucial to a relationship in this third age.
Lots of food for thought on a bright, brilliant blue sky Tucson morning. I'm just back from the local coffee shop and I watched two older couples, "retired" stamped on their foreheads (in one case literally - on the bill of his cap!), sit and gaze outwards. In each situation they appeared to have nothing to talk about - a bit like strangers sharing a bench at a bus stop. A third couple came in literally vibrating with energy - she whispered something to him as they stood in line and I watched as he responded by pinching her behind! Lovely. Wonder what the difference is. What creates their energy.
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