The words “24/7” never crossed my lips until a few days ago while lounging at the pool, chatting with a guest at Laru Beya, it fell out of my mouth when she asked me, “Now that you both are retired, how does it feel to be together all of the time?”
Without hesitation, I blurted, “Being together 24/7 has worked well for us. We don’t whine, snip or pick on each other. It works!” I let out a little gasp, shocked at myself for having said the dreadful expression. 24/7? Yep, that’s us. 24/7? Yep, that’s most retired people.
A few hours later, while again lounging, this time in the comfy chaise on our veranda, I allowed my mind to wander to the conversation with the woman. After 22 years of being together with busy work schedules and personal lives, we’re finally together.
|We shot this coconut tree photo in the dark on the beach in front of our veranda.
How do couples make it work? Over the years we observed many couples on their way to, and eventually into retirement. Some made it work. Some didn’t.
Early on in our relationship and in many years to come, Tom and I surrounded ourselves with a role model couple we adored, Sue and Chip, our dear friends and neighbors four doors from us with whom we spent many enjoyable hours.
Entrenched in lively conversations on countless occasions we discussed every possible topic, over fabulous food and drink, during holidays, special events, as well as on Chip and Tom’s shared birthdays on December 23rd.
|Hold it steady, Honey. Its a little blurry!
As a couple, Sue and Chip personified the ideal of retirement. Chip, retired as an orthopedic surgeon, used the finite hand skills he’d acquired as a surgeon to fulfill his artistic bent busying himself as a sculptor, artist and singer. Sue, a charming hostess and friend to many, played tennis and entertained guests, surrounding herself with meaningful social and academic adventures.
Well rounded as individuals, they came together fulfilled and content, lovingly and unselfishly reveling in each other’s interests and activities. Observing them during our countless times spent together, we knew we needed to follow suit into our own retirement with caveats we learned from Sue and Chip (never spoken but observed):
1. No nagging, no complaining, no snipping and no negative tone of voice when asking or responding to anything at all.
2. Expand on or develop new interests to fill a portion of your time in gratifying endeavors, sharing what you’ve learned with your spouse opening new avenues for conversation.
3. Spend time with friends and family building relationships of your own.
4. Socialize together always speaking well of one another with a twinkle in your eye. Never complain about your partner’s bad habits (which seem to worsen as we age) to others, including family.
5. Share financial status with one another on an ongoing basis especially if one handles the money more than the other.
6. Discuss life’s concerns in a productive manner, inspiring solutions and resolutions together as a couple.
7. Compliment each other, always seeking new ways to express your interest and attraction to many aspects of your partner, not merely complimenting their outfit for the evening (which in itself always earns brownie points!).
8. Always give one another credit for accomplishments even if only one of you did most of the work. After all, it is a partnership.
9. Have fun! (This can be achieved in many ways, if you know what I mean!)
10. Have more fun!
This is what we learned from Sue and Chip. This is what we strive to achieve every single day. It’s a choice, isn’t it? It’s not a matter of circumstance one falls into via good or bad luck. Do we accomplish it “24/7?” No, but like any good habit, its easier to fall back into the goodness, if one so chooses.
We lost our dear Chip the end of May last year (see blog post in archives for June 1, 2012). We miss him. We’ll always miss him. But, in us (and in Sue and many others who knew him and easily loved him) his legacy of love, laughter and passion for life continues on, along with the fine example of a happy and fulfilling retirement as an individual and as a couple.
Last night we had fun, as we so often do, prompting our silly pictures posted on Facebook and again here in this blog today. May it serve as a reminder that this, dear friends, is what retirement means to us, not traveling the world on one adventure after another but, being together living our lives to the fullest, living in the moment, with a “twinkle in our eyes” of what is yet to come.