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Until the Millenniums came along, the Baby Boomers were America’s the largest demographic group.  Many of these folks saw themselves as the heirs of “Woodstock” and “The Age of Aquarius”.  Boomers are the best educated, healthiest, most mortgaged, most pampered, wealthiest, most rebellious, most cynical, most work addicted generation ever.  My father and grandfather’s generation saw work as a burden and a necessity, and retirement was your reward for being part of the captive work force.  But, for many Boomers, George Bernard Shaw is right: “A perpetual holiday (retirement) is a good working definition of hell”.  Retirement – meant you were old, no longer productive, a second-class citizen, a former somebody, or displaced job description.  They saw retirement as one of the big life markers: Death, Divorce, Downsizing, Joblessness and Disability.

But sooner or later, if you’re lucky, retirement is going to happen.  And for those who retire there are two key facts as to keep in mind.  “Retirement isn’t full-stop!!”  And for double income retirement couples, successful retirement is linked to “parallel play” – two individuals engrossed in separate, but parallel lives.

According to Seattle-based psychologist Marry Anne Vandervelde, “parallel play” can benefit both retired partners in a relationship.  “Parallel Play” is analogous to two toddlers, boy and girl, playing in the same sandbox, but with different toys.  The two toddlers are close in proximity, often silent, babbling to themselves, but are happy whereas they’d probably be fighting if they had to play with the same toy, in the same sandbox.  The benefits of “parallel play” are both practical and profound.


1.    Dinner conversations more interesting

Spending time apart during day makes for more dynamic dinner conversation, opposed to a dinner full of silence that comes from being around each other every moment of the day.


2.    Reassuring to know both of you can function independently.

It’s important that both of you can manage finances and travel independently because you may eventually have to do these things alone.


3.    Space and some time alone can be a wonderfully satisfying tonic for the soul.

Discover new interests and passions in life entering retirement.


4.    Challenging yourself, even if you fail, usually brings new confidence and pride to both partners.

Change and challenge aren’t easy, but they can be rewarding for both partners.


5.    Absence often does make the heart grow fonder; couples usually enjoy each other more after they have had some time apart.


So, ironically the lesson here is retirement can be looked at as a full-time job!  The simple thing is:  You have to work at creating a successful life is retirement!     

  • By Brendan on 10.29.2013 at 5:03 pm

    Good advice to live by.

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