It seems an odd quest to pose to someone who now finds themselves at home with their spouse 24/7, but making time for each other has actually resolved a great deal of conflict. Let me explain.
When my husband retired this summer I felt I’d lost my independence, my peace and quiet and above all my writing time. In order to define the ‘me’ I perceived myself to be, or used to be, I went into our office (spare room) almost every day and tried, not very successfully at times, to focus on my tasks in hand. These were mundane ones of formatting and marketing ~ not very riveting stuff, for me anyway, so that when I was interrupted, which happened quite frequently, it did not really matter. (caused the odd anguished grunt on my part but it wasn’t as if the flow of my muse had been disturbed ~ I think I left my creative muse somewhere in Fife back in April!)
Things came to a head when we stopped speaking to each other and, even worse, didn’t listen to what each other was saying, leading to misunderstandings, frustration and arguments. How does that happen? After a few months in each others company it was easy, believe me!
Fortunately both of us decided something had to be done so we decided to do the following:
- sit down and tell each other how we feel ~ be totally honest about what is important to each of us ~ thrash it out
- Listen to each other!
- Try to go out for a walk or cycle ride, or both, with each other each day
- Plan at least one day per week when we would do something enjoyable ~ it didn’t have to cost a lot (we took a picnic to the North Norfolk coast on two occasions for example)
- Give each other space to pursue our own interests
For me this was quite clear. I had the start of a business, which was just beginning to grow, and I also had my writing. I still have at least one novel waiting to be written in the wings and a couple of projects to complete and polish.
For my husband this was more difficult and unplanned. He needed to think about this carefully so that he did not resent spending all hours mending shed roofs, painting fences and doing maintenance around the house. Since then he has become a volunteer at a local museum which shares his interest and enjoyed their training, but it would have been better to have thought this ahead of time. Our problem was that this whole retirement thing wasn’t planned at all.
‘Time’ still causes conflict with us occasionally. Being a bit younger than my husband I still have the drive to achieve things in my life, whereas my husband would rather take things more easily. Finding the right balance between our aspirations will require diplomacy, patience and a great deal of love.
(but I have not bought a ‘Writer’s Den’ to retreat in yet. Have you?)