Retirement can seem, in some sense, like a second honeymoon for a couple. Now that you’re no longer raising children or working, you have the opportunity to pursue your dreams … together.
“Many couples find that their relationship blossoms in retirement,” says Angel Van Horn, Community Relations Specialist at Abe’s Garden Community (formerly Park Manor), the most trusted retirement community in Nashville, TN. “You and your spouse now have time to pursue your passions, both individually and as a couple. And, for couples who move into independent living, they also have the freedom to give up chores and homeownership hassles … making it feel like you’re on vacation for the rest of your life.”
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to highlight the benefits of moving into independent living as a couple, as well as some pro tips for making the most of the move. “Independent living can definitely be a boon to your relationship because you’re living in a place with lots of lively friends and all sorts of activities and opportunities,” Angel says. “You don’t have to sit at home unless you want to. There’s nothing you have to do, so you can spend your time doing what you want to do.”
Pick your perfect location.
One big benefit of moving into independent living as a couple is that you can finally achieve the dream lifestyle in the location you’ve been desiring. This can look like, well, anything – it all depends on what you and your spouse want for this next phase of life. Want to live close enough to pick the grandkids up from school every day? Love living in the mountains with plenty of outdoor opportunities? What about urban living in a city you know and love? Whatever it is that you want “home” to be, you can find an independent living community that matches what you and your honey want.
Start with a clean slate.
This is a new chapter of your life, and as such, it’s a great time to purge all the stuff you and your spouse have accumulated over the years. Remember the fun of buying your first house as a couple? This is a little bit like that! Moving out of your family home and into a smaller place allows you to go through your personal items and give away (or donate or trash) things that you’ve been holding on to that you really don’t want but haven’t had a reason to let go.
Make new friends.
An independent living community is, first and foremost, a community – which means that so many opportunities exist to meet new people and make new friends who can join you (in big or small ways) during this phase of life. And, really, while you and your spouse are moving into independent living to make your life easier and happier together, don’t forget the importance of having friends. Fortunately, building friendships is easy to do in independent living thanks to the wealth of activities, events, hobbies and other community-organized activities taking place every day.
Keep your own interests.
While some couples may enjoy being joined at the hip for everything they do, most of us have interests that our loved one doesn’t share. The beauty of life at an independent living community is that it’s easy to get out and do your thing without worrying about your spouse being bored or tagging along and not really wanting to be there. Instead, you’re both free to do the things you want to do – and then you have something to talk about when you meet back up with your spouse later.
Spend time together as a couple.
On the flip side, it’s important to spend time nurturing and enjoying the bond that you and your spouse have. And now, more than ever, you have the time to re-date your spouse – and fall in love with them all over again. Make time for date nights. Spend time together, whether talking or not talking. Start a new hobby together. Watch a favorite movie or go for a scenic drive. New love is fun and exciting, but a mature love developed over shared years is the richest and most fulfilling love of all.
Take time to find your groove.
It may take some time for you and your spouse to find a routine that works for you in independent living. That’s all right! Remember that there is no timeline to find something “perfect,” and in fact, your definition of “perfect” can change. Give yourself time to experiment and try a little bit of everything in your new community. If you decide you don’t like a particular fitness class, or you suddenly realize that you have the desire to go back to college and get another degree, great! This time of life is an opportunity for discovery for you and your spouse. Give yourself time to settle into a rhythm that works for you.
Cultivate a sense of wonder.
There are some people who, no matter how old they get, never lose a sense of wonder and excitement about the world – or about their spouse. Although we can’t stop or reverse the aging process, we can control how we approach the situation. If you and your spouse look at each new day as an opportunity to learn, enjoy and delight in all the opportunities around you – no matter how old you get – you’ll discover just how sweet this time of your life can be.