Did you have a happy Valentine’s Day?
Five ideas for romantic survival
Happy or not, I’m sure your Valentine’s Day was unlike any you’ve had before – after all, it was the first one in ‘lockdown’ for many of us.
But if you weren’t greeted by a dozen red roses on the 14th February, or a heart-emblazoned card was noticeably absent from your mantelpiece, don’t be hard on yourself. Relationships are under pressure for all of us at the moment. Take this as some consolation: if being at home constantly with your partner is creating a different – and somewhat less than romantic – environment, you are in fact putting in excellent practice for retirement.
Let me explain. The decision to marry or commit to someone is one of the most important and difficult decisions in one’s life, but we evolve as we grow older, so must our marriage or relationship, if it is to survive. Romantic survival is a real thing!
This is a tall order in itself, as the two people in the partnership may not change at the same pace, or want the same things as they mature. Like lockdown, retirement is an extra pressure as routines and priorities evolve and you may have more time together than you have ever had before.
As ‘Retirement Rebels’, we are open to thinking differently and can make sure we can use this period of enforced isolation to make ourselves ready for these changes, and not be caught unawares.
Here are five ideas for romantic survival: useful for lockdown – and essential for retirement
Explore shared passions
To avoid arguments and tensions, think about what passions you share with your partner. Lockdown is a great opportunity to explore what life offers you both with more time together. Just as in retirement, you both have to be willing to look forward. Think of this as a period of growth, one in which you can create new experiences, and have an open mind – and heart.
Why not explore the history of your local area using your permitted daily walks? Or begin a shared hobby such as a craft or creative pursuit, or take an online cookery or wine tasting course together? Nothing is more romantic than eating delicious food together, lovingly prepared!
Make sure you are communicating effectively
If an argument does occur, try and make sure you are focusing on how it makes you feel, rather than what you think your partner is doing wrong. Things might be clear in our heads, but we can’t assume, just because we love someone, that they are a mind reader.
Try to explain calmly and clearly what you are feeling, and use sentences that start with ‘I’ not ‘You’, to avoid sounding accusing. Keep the lines of communication open by sharing when something is bothering you before it becomes an argument. Misunderstandings are a lot less likely to happen this way.
Don’t go to bed on an argument
Of course, some discussions will turn into a row – that’s only natural, and it’s often a good way to ‘clear the air’ – but how disputes are resolved is crucial. In healthy relationships, if tempers rise, they don’t stay risen for long.
Take a break, go for a walk, and then plan to talk through the problem again later – and ‘make up’ before the sun sets on the argument. This is important, otherwise resentment could build up, and the problem could become larger than it needs to be.
Take time to check into ‘the outside world’
It is important now, as it is in retirement, to consider what you can do apart, too. I encourage my clients to keep up with other connections, both personal and professional. In lockdown of course, this can be done ‘virtually’, using video calling or messaging. It will give you news from ‘the outside world’ to tell your partner about, essential if everything else you are doing is together.
Remember what you love about your partner
When tensions rise, or boredom creeps in, it can help to remind yourself of what attracted you to your partner in the first place. Look through old photos, reminisce, think about some of the things you’ve done together before this strange period in all our lives.
This will help to remind you of your normal life together, and give you ideas of things you can look forward to, like travel and parties together. Make an effort to focus on the positive personality traits of your partner, or even imagine how things would be if they weren’t there at all – an excellent way to feel more thankful for them.
Once lockdown is over, which we are all hoping won’t be too far away, you will be more prepared for retirement. Or if you have retired already, better equipped to cope with the pressures it can have on your love life, which are often overlooked.
Retirement could in fact be the best opportunity that life offers you both in terms of how to live together in a new and joyful way, but you both have to be willing to look forward. This is a time to grow, to create new experiences, and to enjoy learning anew. For, as Pablo Picasso once said, “Love is the greatest refreshment in life”…
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