What a year we’ve had, my hubby and I ~ Both travelling around and living in Kinghorn, Fife ~ enjoying a sabbatical and writer’s retreat ~ making new friends and soaking up the warm Scottish hospitality. We were so fortunate, but how has life been this summer ~ back in sunny England?
As Scotland and rUK (rest of the UK) grapple with their changing circumstances and new relationship, here at home here we have also gone though a similarly momentous but personal, parallel struggle.
First of all my husband reached 60 and, rather than retiring decided to take a sabbatical this summer to decide what to do next at his leisure. This had a double edged sword. On the one hand it left his options open ~ a psychological positive when coping with the aftermath of leaving an all consuming job which was stressful, yes, but certainly in the last year extremely rewarding. (even though his blood pressure kept on increasing along with the medication)
The downside to this was uncertainly. Would we be returning to live in Scotland in the autumn? Would we sell the house this time? I had no choice but to try and relax and let him make the decision in his own time, even though it made it impossible for me to make plans for either my writing or publishing projects. I had enjoyed a year long sabbatical, but applying for jobs and possibly returning to part time work was also impossible for now. I had no idea where I would be living. (The deadline for applying for college posts for September passed and I like to think this was meant to be ~ was that path was closed from me for a reason?)
Secondly, and this is a very personal one, don’t let anyone tell you that getting used to each others company 24/7 is easy. I had been used to long periods when I could organise my time and make my own decisions. At times I felt like screaming…I just need to be alone for a while….and my brain stopped functioning properly. I could not plan my day, let alone my life. My confidence in social media crashed with activities squeezed ~ my writing ground to a bare minimum and all I could concentrate on were the two publishing projects I was already committed to, for fellow writers. Marketing – phew, what is that?
Thirdly the four year age gap. ‘We are world’s apart’ my husband kept repeating. When he had time to explain, he said that he understood that I was not ready to retire, but had plans and dreams for future projects. On the other hand his desire was to downsize and be free to see the world and do something different with his life, but was not sure what it was yet. He also wanted to live near the sea whereas I felt I needed to be near my elderly parents, family and friends.
We were at loggerheads!
It was a painful time for both of us, when it should have been such a joy. Family events and the many catch-up jobs around the house meant that we were unable to escape, as my husband would have liked, and anyway, I had work to do. We’d been travelling for nearly a year now and I needed to take root for a while.
Occasionally we enjoyed refreshing days out when a truce was silently agreed upon ~ to the north Norfolk coast, Lincolnshire and places of beauty and interest in and around Bedfordshire, but back at home it was as if knives were drawn. (My murder mystery ‘Murder now and then’ set aside here! A friend tells me that my powers of prediction are uncanny…God forbid for that one to come true too!)
Unsurprising it was back in Scotland on a ten day break that we finally made peace with each other. I don’t know whether it was the ambiance of the sea, the fellowship of the people who have become so dear to us or just the magic of Kinghorn itself but, half way through our stay, two friends demanded that we were totally honest with each other about what we each wanted out of life and why. It was soul-searching, tough but it was the beginning of an amazing time of healing.
We returned ready to acknowledge each other’s needs and try to find compromises where we had been ‘worlds apart.’ Although nothing had physically changed. Though we still spend a huge amount of time at home ‘together,’ the majority of the angst has evaporated and I’ll explain a little of how we did it in my next post. (Though we have decided it is ‘better together’ we know that we need quality time to feel independent too and to respect and acknowledge each other’s needs)
Are you coping with the challenges of retirement? Tell me about it. Did you plan beforehand?
Are you a 50 something whose career has been cut short due to redundancy? Have you changed direction and how has it altered your life?
I would love to have more guest posts of the heartwarming ways you have overcome either of the above. Whether it is just a piece of advice or whole proposed post I look forward to hearing from you: firstname.lastname@example.org