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Relationships - to nurture or not to nurture...


No matter what our age, relationships - partner/spouse, BFF, work colleague, family, friends or a new acquaintance require nurturing. Relationships are like plants - you need to care for them or they wither and die. Consistently nurturing your relationships with kindness and honesty will allow you to have a meaningful and mutually beneficial connection.

Of course there are times when we feel our relationships are no longer serving us, they do not fulfill our expectations, we feel drained by them or we feel 'used' not loved. When these feelings prevent you from having a good connection perhaps its time to move on and release them from your life.

Moving on from full time employment or care giving can be a very enjoyable and fulfilling experience for many however it can also present relationship challenges. Retirement often has an unexpected impact on relationships.

As we have gone through there are many challenges that may accompany retirement - - Loss of familiar routines and structures; - Losing ones identity, as you are no longer defined by your role in the work place or as a care giver; - Self-esteem can be affected by the ending of employment, changes in income, and perhaps status. - The ageing process in itself can be a challenge - wrinkles, physical and health limitations - some pre-existing and others never anticipated; - Financial and wealth management - Will you outlive your money or vice versa?

Individuals experiencing difficulties in their relationships following retirement may find it difficult to acknowledge such difficulties and may hope they will right themselves over time. Encouraging you to acknowledge these challenges and take action is the key.

Let's firstly talk about relationship as a couple -

Many retired couples acknowledge that one of the major changes retirement brings is the fact that they now have more time to spend with each other. This can be a wonderful experience for couples who have more time to spend together and they can plan and do many things they were unable to do together previously or you could suddenly realise you will be spending 24-hours a day with your partner, no matter how much you love them and how good the relationship is this may cause angst!

Many couples find that retirement may not live up to their expectations and the issues within their relationship they have ignored become larger because they have more time to think about them. and now they can’t or don’t want to fix them.

Communication between partners is paramount when you both (or individually) plan to retire as when it comes around may find it very difficult to adjust to the change in status and lifestyle. Some retirees and their spouses/partners find it very difficult to adjust to their new situation. A spouse/partner who retires may have an expectation that the other spouse/partner, who has been the care giver at home, will be available to them all the time. The partner who has worked in the home can find the retired partner’s presence around the house all the time very discomforting and stressful. This leads to frustration and dissatisfaction and once resentment sets in it's a long road to recovery. This is when couples can falter and not opening the honest communication BEFORE you both leave work makes it worse.

From my experience many men face the prospect of divorce when the wife says she wants more and says she has been saying it too him for years only for it to have fallen on deaf ears. It should not be a casual conversation. These communications need to be clear, concise and understood by both parties. Its also not a one off conversation as we all change (thank goodness) and grow and therefore so do our needs and wants.

This is a great website and article - https://retirementbooks.com.au/books/relationships/

If you don’t have a happy relationship today with your partner, you aren’t going to be happy during your retirement, no matter how many sandy beaches you walk on, how much gardening you do or how large financially sufficient you may feel.

Start and look at ways to communicate more effectively and follow a few guidelines to get re-connected -

1. Talk and listen Listen to each others dreams and goals and concerns. Work together to try and reach a middle ground that meets both of your expectations. I appreciate that many find it difficult to express their wishes and wants and many just haven't developed the skill set to communicate effectively. If you have trouble or if you can’t resolve differences, you may need counselling or mediation. Make plans together.

2. Get a Plan and Plan it Early Go through the steps on the retirement series for Next Chapter Living and get a plan together. Make it organic and movable and reassess it regularly. Couples that plan together stay together! Don’t let retirement plan your relationship.

4. Don't blame your spouse/partner Take responsibility for yourself. Don't be a victim be a victor. If you have become disillusioned or feeling flat because your partner is now at home 24/7 and it's disrupting your life DO SOMETHING about it.

5. Invest in yourself Retirement is a time of changes. You may take a few weeks to settle into it and have long lazy lunches and read books and watch mid day movies but this is temporary. Get your mind active, your brain cells working and your body moving. Join new clubs together, work on separate projects - give yourselves permission to continue to grow!

What about other relationships in your life - family, friends, work colleagues and how you can release these relationships without breaking down -

Your relationships can be short or long term and the meaning of long term can be 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 50 years... its up to you. Sometimes the relationship has suffered too much damage to keep going like serious betrayal of trust or it could be not so obvious such as feeling you are being used, either you or your friends have gone through radical change and your values no longer align, you no longer feel excited by this friendship or perhaps nothing really happened you have just grown apart...

Ask yourself these questions before deciding on releasing and letting go of the relationship -

1. What does my heart say? Trust your intuition. We are moving away from this and it's a shame. We need a full heart to be able to love and be loved. If a relationship doesn't fill you with joy perhaps its time to move on.

2. Is this relationship mutually beneficial? Relationships are give and take and over time they cycle through this allowing both parties to benefit. Has the giving increased? Do you take more than you should? What are you not giving? Are you supporting your relationship?

3. Are you being manipulated? Manipulation, fundamentally, is managing the emotions of others , and not in a good way. It's sulking to get someone to feel bad, it's being especially nice to butter someone up. It might be hard for you to see and you may be in denial (this happens especially in narcissistic relationships) or embarrassed to think this is happening.

4. How do you feel in the relationship?

Does it make you happier or less happy? More confident or less confident? Do you wander around being yourself or are you constantly walking on egg shells? If you can't be you in any relationship it may be time to let it go.

Connecting with true friends is one of the best things we can do for our health and happiness.

Once you decide to release a relationship work with yourself to make the impact as comfortable as possible. This is your decision and you don't have to justify it to anyone (OK so divorce might mean you have to justify a bit!). Use these techniques to ease you out -

1. Continue to love the person You have had good time as well as bad with this person. You will have laughed and cried and gone through various life stages and challenges together and these can't be reversed and nor should they be. You have grown because of these experiences - good and bad. Show love and compassion and offer that to them.

2. Release your attachment It is easier said than done. I also appreciate that the catalyst for some break ups can be threatening behaviour, actions and violence. Moving yourself out of this picture and into a place of acceptance will allow you to grow and not be so narrowly focused on your story. You want to leave, you want to let go, you want something different and accepting your story for what it is in the present light allows you to ease out of it. Accepting is not giving in, it's a way for you to live in the present before moving forward.

3. Re-connect with yourself Take time out for you. Book that holiday, meet those people, stay in bed all day... start to do something for you.

Moving on can be one of the hardest things to do and finding yourself again takes time. Don't be too hard on yourself and know that no matter what the outcome of your decisions always look for new opportunities to choose joy and happiness for YOU.

Putting time and quality into the relationships you want in your life and indeed learning new, confident skills with new relationships will offer rewards and ultimately their ongoing support and friendship will help you in good times and bad.

I hope this resonates with many of you and if you want to discuss your relationships please feel free to contact me and we can have a chat over the phone to see where coaching can assist in helping you move forward with your relationships.

Have a great weekend.

Dawn

+61 408 532 808

NSW, Australia

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