Maintaining space in a relationship after both partners have retired is a delicate balancing act. Too little privacy can make you feel smothered, while too much can make you forget what your significant other looks like. On the one hand, you probably realize that personal space is a reasonable request, but that may not stop you from feeling threatened if your partner asks for more of it.
If you're pondering what to do when your partner says they need their space, take a look at these suggestions. They'll help you develop a relationship that's close and comfortable.
What to Do After Your Partner Says They Need Space:
Maybe you had plenty of things on your joint bucket list, got stuck into doing them, ended up spending all your time together and forgot to pace yourselves. If you're already having that conversation, consider the following:.
1. Stay calm. It's natural for relationship troubles in the early days of retirement to trigger doubts and fears. Remember that you've handled conflicts in the past, and you can figure out how to respond to this one.
2. Listen closely. Show your partner you care by giving them your full attention. Focus on what they're saying instead of thinking about your next response. Reserve judgment, and try to take in verbal and nonverbal messages.
3. Clarify the situation. Space can be a vague concept until you translate it into specific terms. Does your partner want to move out or just spend an occasional weekend apart? Will a 'man-cave' or 'room of one's own' provide some time and space to get away from each other when you need it?
4. Play fair. Once you've negotiated your mutual boundaries, honour your agreement. Resist the temptation to check in with each other or 'just stick your head around the door' if you're trying to give each other some space .
5. Accept responsibility. Your feelings and expectations matter too. Decide whether this is an opportunity to renew your commitment or part amicably. If you're still on the same track and it really is just a case of giving each other a little more space and privacy, working together to resolve your differences could help your relationship to grow stronger in retirement.
How to Avoid Having Your Partner Say They Need Space:
Successful couples tend to know how much me-time they require. (In fact, having enough space in a relationship is almost twice as important to a couple's happiness as having a good sex life, according to researchers at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.) However, retirement can have an impact on routines that have worked beautifully for years and even decades. Once the timetabling, commitment and distraction of work is removed from the equation, couples can find themselves in each others' company 24/7 - and that can be tough to handle for even the most loving partners.
1. Keep your own friends. It's important to have relationships outside your relationship. Have fun hanging out with friends, and stay in touch with your family. It's fun and helps you to take some pressure off of each other. And don't forget to seek out opportunities to make new friends.
2. Pursue your interests. You can be compatible without sharing a passion for orchid shows or go-cart racing. Encourage each other to do what you love.
3. Look inward. Solitary hours are an opportunity for reflection and spiritual practice. Allow each other to enjoy some silence.
4. Own your decision. Enjoy those Friday nights or Tuesday afternoons that you go off on your own. Come back with an interesting story instead of wasting time feeling guilty.
5. Nurture your connection. Of course, your life as a couple requires some effort too. Let your time apart remind me you why you want still to be together. Share the chores between you so that the burden of the housework or cooking doesn't fall on one partner. Create rituals that show you care, like leaving each other love notes or emptying the dishwasher when it's not your turn.
6. Consider counseling. If you worry about becoming dependent on your partner as you get older, or fear being abandoned if your partner has more hobbies, interests or friends than you, childhood issues could be involved. Talking with a therapist can help you heal and move on.
The bottom line is that space doesn't have to be scary. Strengthening your identity as an individual enriches your life as a couple.