Sunday May 19, 2013
Making Marriage Marinate: From Confrontation to CooperationBarry-Lee Coyne Salem-News.com
Too often couples are short-sighted, pretending that "togetherness" will never ever cease.
(SALEM) - Marriage is a challenge at any age, but once you retire, your orbit become exposure to the 24/7 cycle. This can bring you into a period of greater collaboration, or more intensive confrontation. We therefore need to establish a Plan A and Plan B, because either contingency could crop up.
Whomever retires first often feels that the household is their domain. They make the rules and regs and you are invited to their habitat to share their regimen. That can foster a power struggle.
When I retired, my spouse assumed that my instant role would be domestic workmate as chores emerged. And she was skilled at developing lots of chores to accomplish. By contrast, I viewed retirement as a golden opportunity for less structure and fewer tasks. After all, I'd payed my dues in working for nearly five decades. Now it was my chance to savor leisure.
Confrontation came swiftly. Her needs were for an orderly household, free of clutter, Mine was for a more relaxed era where I could indulge in old hobbies or develop new ones. Communications become tense. I found myself being targeted for blame and put on the defensive. Conversely, my wife was resistant to any hint that she was responsible for the rancor.
She wanted to be perceived as always "in the right".
Amid this turmoil, we evolved to daily dialog after breakfast. This allowed us to plan the day together and set forth our individual priorities. Since she no longer drove, I had to factor in her dependency on my being the solo driver in the family. We needed to plan a logical route of places to go without wasting time and gas and balance out her needs with my own.
Gradually, our planning process evolved to collaboration and, in a sense, cooperation. We also decided to cook the meals on alternate days. We began to recognize that one of us might we well become infirm or die before the other, and each moment together needs to be savored. It also became apparent that those tasks we assumed had to be interchangeable so that the remaining mate could handle the other's roles.
Too often couples are short-sighted, pretending that "togetherness" will never ever cease. In our new spirit, we make allowances for differences and avoid overt blame. Our marriage as old-timers has become outcome-oriented and sharing--not swearing--is our mantra for each other. We recognize that the road ahead may have its share of speedbumps, so we speed less and succeed more.
That's our recipe for cooling up a tasty, tantalizing marriage, mankind decisions a la carte.
NOTE: Lee and Carmela got married in 1981, just before Prince Charles married Diana. They have survived despite obstacles aplenty, and are striving to thrive in their Golden Years.
B. Lee Coyne, a NYC native, blends three careers: Journalist, Counselor, Educator. His writings have appeared in newspapers and magazines on the East and West Coasts and the Southwest.
He loves the art of the interview and has covered such persons as Dr. King's 1963 "Dream" speech and Sen. William Proxmire as an advocate for the environment.
A global traveler to some 30 countries aboard, he speaks Spanish semi-fluently and very rudimentary Russian, Tagalog, German, Arabic and Hebrew.
Lee's legacy here in Salem includes launching the Salem Peace Mosaic at the YMCA and doing a radio talk show for KMUZ/88.5 FM. It airs Mondays and highlights lives of proactive, productive senior citizens. He invites you to contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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