Married couples retirement can be an exciting time, creating a lifestyle they both enjoy of relaxation, more time for travel, shared hobbies, and separate interests
Remember how childhood stories often ended with the words ‘...and the prince and princess lived happily ever after’?
Retirement is hardly a topic that concerns newly married couples. They have more urgent matters to attend to such as when to start a family, finding their dream home, and managing their careers.
When retirement is far away, it's hard for couples to focus on it, and difficult for them to imagine that the golden years could be among the best of their life...if they plan for them, both financially and emotionally. And it’s never too soon to start that conversation.
Many people adjust to married couples retirement with few major problems. If you work together on my married couples retirement checklist you can hope to become like Darby and Joan, the archetypal couple, "the folks who live on the hill", a devoted couple living out your retirement in fulfillment and contentment - enjoying some of the best years of your life with the person who makes them the best.
I'd like to illustrate some of the challenges of married couples retirement using my tongue in cheek story of Darby and Joan, and their journey from marriage to retirement.
Have you ever wondered why women cry at weddings? Do they know something the men don't?
Recently, my wife and I were looking through our old black and white wedding photos and the style and the fashions made us laugh. The shiny suit, bell bottomed trousers, long hair ... that was my mother in law!
It was 1970, over 40 years ago. I was a child bridegroom, and now - I'm an expert on love and marriage, willing and able to offer advice to all young lovers, wherever you are. But first let me declare a bias. These are the musings of a middle aged man, yes - that's how I see myself.
Men and women have a fundamentally different attitude towards love and marriage and no number of new men or feminists will alter that fact - and I say "Vive le Difference"! Back in the 1970's some young men were encouraged to go off looking for their feminine side - some of them found it, liked it, and never came back!
However before we can embrace the chains of love we have to deal with that most capricious character - the confirmed bachelor - a thing of beauty and a boy forever.
He appreciates that marriage teaches you loyalty, self restraint, meekness and a host of other virtues which you wouldn't need if you stayed single. For him marriage is not a word, it's a sentence. He's the fellow who puts off getting married, until it's too late. Or says to a long suffering girl friend - I suppose we should get married, but sure, who'd have us now.
Ladies can be diffident too, but by the time they reach a certain age they will have been asked to marry several times, by their parents! She's waiting for mister right to come along, but meanwhile she settles for right now and gets married.
Fools rush in where bachelors fail to wed, so that eventually the match is made and the date set. Long engagements are to be avoided as they give the couple the chance to get to know each other too well.
Finally the big day arrives for the happiest couple in the world - the bride's parents. We see the father giving away the bride. After paying for the wedding, that may be all he has left to give away.
We see the bride well-groomed and the groom well-bridled - too late now to appreciate the ironic humour of the affectionate bachelor term for his sweetheart - the ball and chain. He's thinking he's never seen her look so lovely. Smiling serenely, she's thinking ... aisle-altar-hymn.
Next it's off on the honeymoon. Some newlyweds quarrel on their honeymoon, but most couples don't settle down to normal married life that quickly. For her the honeymoon is over when she removes her wedding ring, from the dishwasher. For him it's over when he stops helping her with the dishes, and does them himself-you might say a new groom sweeps clean.
Differences of opinion are bound to arise, but this needn't be a problem provided you don't tell her you disagree with her. When you are going out to a function and she consults you on what to wear, please bear in mind that she is not deferring to your fashion expertise. Hint - if she is wearing a dress and holding a dress, always say you prefer the one she is wearing! Money matters can be a problem-he thinks she should spend less, she thinks they should earn more.
The summers fly one by one and for some couples marriage becomes like sitting in a bath - after a while it's not so hot anymore. This is a dangerous phase when "Come on Baby Light My Fire" changes to, "would you ever fetch me a bucket of coal for the fire, love."
Time heals all ills they say-but let's face it, it's no beauty parlour. She used to think that time stood still when she looked in his eyes, now she thinks he has a face that would stop a clock. Her beautiful teeth, that used to sparkle like the stars, they now come out at night. Be sensitive to her feelings during this phase. If she asks you if you will love her when she's old a grey, remind her that you've loved her through all the other colours.
He comes home late to find his dinner in the dog and he's in the dog house. They sit silently. She's wondering where the boy she married is, he's wondering where's the girl he didn't! His Sunday afternoon nap is disturbed by the sound of the lawnmower - she's learned how to use it herself.
Marriage is a mistake everyone should make-I don't see why any of you should escape! It's given me the best years of my life with the people who made them the best.
And then he retires and everything changes all of a sudden. "What are we going to do today," he asks. "I'm not your tour guide," she replies! She hasn't retired; she has her long established schedule. She thinks, "I married him for better or for worse, not for lunch." He wants to help but the dials on the washing machine and dishwasher look like the control panel of the Star ship Enterprise to him.
And so the final frontier - married couples retirement, the challenge is to become like Darby and Joan, the archetypal couple, "the folks who live on the hill", who become the devoted couple living out their retirement in fulfillment and contentment.