At the moment in two parts of the world, Ukraine and the Middle East, we are seeing the result of extreme anger generated by fear and the results are horrifying.  For my blog which follows, written before the second  horror erupted, I have tried to look at negating another kind of fear which can result in either positive change or inability to step away from the resulting anger. In the world at the moment, anger driven by fear seems relentless.  We can only hope.  

At Coupleworks, however, we see and value diversity.  Each story is unique and special. In this blog, I am concentrating on couples who are in any one of the life stages following retirement or contemplating that possibility. 

Fear of the unknown can put couples off rail for a while and cause fear, anger and frustration. On the plus side it can bring renewal, excitement, negotiation and empathy. The latter needs each person to feel heard, valued and acknowledged by the other.  

Fear of change is involved and both will act that out in a different way depending on their ability to change and evolve throughout their lives. 

With Zoom, Facetime, Skype, Microsoft Teams and other apps, retirement can be shelved, if retirement age is not factored into a work contract.   Many people are continuing to work whilst they are able and employable. This becomes a point of discourse in a couple  if one continues in the workplace and the other retires. 

Some people feel defined by their work and reluctant to let go, others are pleased with less responsibility. The latter may have felt held back by contracted timetables, having to request holiday dates, and following the dictates of their contracts.  Retirement can enable being creative about the day ahead.

Resentment can set in if neither side shares their feelings about their needs and inevitably anger is acted out in ways unknown to the couple they used to be. 

Communication, creativity, shared risk taking, ability to alter decisions if a plan is found to be unworkable. These need to be in place. 

Above all, knowing that something will work out, often very differently to forward plans. Still wanting to face the changes together is the key to hope and positivity. Joint excitement about the next stage. 

In my blogs over the coming year, I shall be selecting subjects which can arise.  Often the most unsettling and fearful is a move from long term accommodation, possessions, neighbourhood, neighbours, shared community spirit and kindness.  Every couple will do this differently and need their difference heard and respected by their partner whilst, at the same time, returning the sentiment.

How to deal with disposing of shared and personal belongings?

Which area to move to?

Does the selected location feel welcoming?

If moving from a large space to a limited one, which person feels comfortable with that and which feels uneasy?

What voluntary jobs are available to avoid becoming too rootless when mapping out the day?

How can they find a purpose which still feels necessary and valued by others?

Can each contain the other when needed due to health, pain, short and long term memory and mobility loss?

These dilemmas will sort in some way but while they are only imagined, they become a fear.  This can be alleviated by sharing fears and using differences to enable a joint solution.  This can bring a different liaison which can be very intimate in ways previously unknown. 

Clare Ireland