Retirement doesn’t just mean the end of your career, it can mean so much more. You may feel like it’s the end of one lifetime and the beginning of another. Or you may feel uneasy about the transition and it seems more like you’re jumping off a cliff. However you perceive life in your golden years, this life-altering event not only affects our bank accounts and daily schedules, it also has a deep effect on our relationships.
From the day we are born till the day we retire, everything we do falls within a massive journey labelled Career. Our career paths may have ups and downs and take different directions, but idea that we should have a job that takes up a majority of our time is ingrained in us from the beginning. Parents of infants and toddlers try to guess what career their babies will have based on which toys they prefer. Highschool students are reminded over and over again that where they go to college will affect the rest of their lives. Then from college, its onward to internships and a career-building grind. The importance that we place on our careers can be most easily observed at parties where the first meet-and-greet question is typically, “what do you do for a living?”
If you are someone whose identity revolves around your career, the end of your days in the workforce can be devastating. You no longer have a driving motivation to get up every morning, your days are unstructured, and your day’s purpose is uncertain. With all of these factors, your self-esteem can take a hit. This not only hurts you, but it can also hurt your relationships; in order to accept love from others, we must be able to love ourselves.
To enhance your love life after retirement, you must first enhance your non-love life. The key is to develop a new life that is as rewarding and self-affirming as your career. To do this effectively, you must rediscover your purpose. Think back to the things that you were passionate about during childhood. Perhaps there is something that you have always wanted to do, but never had time for while working. If you dreamt of the theater, then sign up for an acting class. If you love art, then maybe consider volunteering at the museum.
Once your satisfied with your post career life, then it’s time to refocus on sharing experience with your partner. Your work life has been upended, your daily schedule has completely changed, but your relationship has stayed exactly the same if not changed for the monotonous. Having a lot of free time can put pressure on a relationship. All of the energy and stress from work has nowhere to go so we tend to put in on our partners. It’s a recipe for disaster. The key to avoiding this is to share new and exciting experiences together. Think back to the early days of your relationship. The first date, first kiss, first trip – every experience was an invigorating adventure! Try to recapture those feelings and make a list with your partner of all the “firsts” that you’d still like to experience with them and then do them.
For your post-career life to feel more like starting anew and less like plummeting off a cliff, treat your love life like it’s new, too. Fill your time with things you are passionate about and treat your partner like you did when you first met. Share new experiences together and enjoy falling in love all over again in retirement.