Watching Andy Murray struggling with the aftermath of his performance this week gave a searing glimpse into the pain of the forced ending to a career in which he has worked tirelessly to gain a place of supremacy.
His current suffering is a sad example of what many of us may have to endure in our own way and hopefully in a less public arena.
Sportsmen and women know that physical fitness is a definition of what they do. The realisation that this will wane has to be an accepted view of a professional life that has a finite time span before hopefully evolving into an area where these skills can still be celebrated in different ways.
For many of us, a career can be a large part of our identity. ‘What do you do?’ Is often an opening question in social or business interactions. And the need to feel valued and competent is knitted into many of us from childhood.
Somehow we do know that this must end, but it may not always be within our control.
Even the word ‘retirement’ has a negative context – there can be whiff of helpless oncoming frailty around it.
Work gives many of us status and structure.
Its financial benefit can often be the means of gaining a better life than the one we came from.
It is likely to offer companionship, social interaction and identity.
That’s an awful lot to lose. And this change will throw a real grenade into the structure of couple life.
What a huge shift it is for the partner when an outworker becomes a homebody.
Suddenly there’s another voice that needs attention, lunch and companionship where they both used to find this elsewhere.
For some, it can be a gradual and planned retreat into a world they long to enter. Time and space for thought, hobbies or new interests. But for those like Sir Andy, it’s a shock and played out in a very public arena.
Sudden forced redundancy or ‘being let go’ is a massive loss and needs time to settle.
The new pattern of couple life will need big adjustments. Before irritations set in, take time to discuss how each of you sees the next phase.
All change brings loss and for some, who loved who they were in their careers, it can be a kind of bereavement to be stripped of this and have to grow a new identity.
Kindness and patience will be needed. And the partner who has to assimilate An Other into their daily life will also need tolerance.
A lot of sympathy will be extended to Andy around the massive and unwelcome shift in his daily life. Spare a thought for Kim, his wife, who may have a totally different life thrust upon her, too.
It’s important not to rush changes, but to take a while in building fresh contacts and different habits.
Think about how rethinking time together can create an interesting new phase, but couples also need to allow time and space to stay with their own individual structures and identities.
Be aware that previous time apart may have protected against petty irritations that are now put into sharper focus.
Stay tolerant. This is a process of negotiation for both and will take a while to settle. It can also be a period of renewed ideas when there’s an opportunity to prioritise what is really important to us.
Discovery of new interests, deeper involvement in established hobbies, time for family and friends and less pressured hours for couples to share new experiences can be a boon after years of slog or commuter travel.
So, dust off those freedom passes, check out a new passion or move up a grade on a favoured pursuit.
Stay curious and remember that we all need endings before we can find new beginnings.
Best wishes to Sir Andy for the next stage in his new career options and his family life.
And equally good wishes to Lady Murray for hers.