It all happened so quickly, where did the years go? But here we are, the first few years into retirement already. So much to be thankful for. Anyway, it’s the road ahead that matters. And so, setting out to look at some of the ways we go about making the most of that journey, together as a couple.
I’ve called them, ‘7 Ideas for Enjoying Life Together After Retirement’. Others will find that different things have worked for them, and feedback around that would be so welcome too. But first a little background to what brought us here.
We are George and Tania, and everyone’s journey to this point will be unique. We often think about how unlikely and unpredictable it all was for us. For example, we met later in life and from backgrounds just about as different as one could imagine.
That was a little over 11 years ago now. Not just from different countries, but different hemispheres, cultures, native languages, the lot. However, we were both single again and our kids had flown the nest. We also weren’t too far from thinking about the when, how and where of our post 9-to-5 lives. But without any real idea of what that might look like when the time came.
Since then we’ve had lots of amazing adventures and fun navigating it all, and here we are. A big difference, of course, being we now spend virtually 100% of our time together. So what kind of things do we do to help us enjoy life together after retirement?
Getting to know and becoming involved in each other’s previous lives has been a joy. For example, it feels to me like I now also have two lovely daughters (Tania’s) who are close family. And Tania now also has a delightful grand-daughter (mine) who she adores and who recently travelled to spend some time with us.
These are blessings beyond compare. Time spent nurturing these wonderful bonds and connections from our previous lives can’t be over-valued.
Visits to cafés and restaurants are great spontaneous invitations as they always bring smiles. For example, coffee and pastry at some nice nearby café, or somewhere new we have seen and would like to check out. It’s a great opportunity to sit together in a relaxed setting and enjoy the ambiance.
Often, they are pavement cafés in pedestrianised parts of the city or town where we can sit under the shades outside and enjoy the sunshine. We are very lucky to have so many such cafés, and it’s very much part of the culture where we live now. But something similar or comparable probably exists in most countries.
Another part of the culture here is many small traditional restaurants offering a lunchtime ‘prato do dia’ (dish of the day) at very reasonable prices. We regularly take the opportunity to enjoy traditional menus and favourite local dishes. It’s a lot of fun.
These restaurants are usually family-run and staffed. And it’s a good way to integrate into the local community as we often have interesting conversations with the owners. They enjoy estrangeiros (foreigners) who take an interest!
Dinners out at these small, family-run, traditional restaurants are also a delight in terms of cuisine and reasonable prices. We love to try them out, and it’s a quality experience. It’s another of our favourite ways of sharing time together.
Steps, that is. Yet another of our activities of choice is walking. Sometimes it’s an hour or so along a paved trail through our city and into the countryside. Or it might be a nice walk along some wonderful coastal boardwalks we are so fortunate to have nearby.
Either way, it’s a golden opportunity for relaxed, casual conversation. We’ve also long had a habit of holding hands when we walk, almost from the time we first met. Just a gentle gesture of oneness.
When the weather suits, not too hot and no rain forecast, we also love to get the gear out and go hiking together on the longer, beautiful trails we have further from base. We have enjoyed this since we first met.
It’s one of our main forms of physical exercise too, and there’s very little I can think of that is better for both our health and our relationship. Sometimes we accompany some friends or occasionally we meet up with a hiking group. It’s a fantastic way to spend time.
Prior to us retiring together, Tania did very little cycling. I would have done quite a bit over time. But it has become a feature of our retired lives and very much part of our health and fitness routine too. We have a wonderful choice of cycling trails, local, coastal, and further afield.
No better way of spending a day in the magnificent outdoors. As with our walking and hiking, we have a collection of photographs that we reminisce through regularly. Reminds us of beautiful places we’ve been and keeps us looking forward to more.
We’re not intrepid travellers though we have been to quite a few very interesting places in the years since we met. Our list of travel destinations we would still like to see is fairly specific, focused and not necessarily to far-flung places. We love to plan somewhere different maybe once or twice per year.
Last year we had a wonderful couple weeks hiking the Auvergne area of France, and prior to that we spent some days in Galicia, northern Spain. But it kind of reminds me of a conversation we had with a friend recently, also retired.
We asked her if she plans to take some holidays in the near future. So she said, “Well, I’m retired in Portugal, I’m on holidays all the time here!” Sums it up I guess. But some interesting travel is like tasty spice, definitely part of the togetherness recipe for us.
Many of us will have some leisure time activities that are not necessarily shared interests. It’s something we’ve created space for, including in retirement. Tania and I share quite a few interests, such as hiking, cycling, travelling, reading, etc.
But we are comfortable about and supportive of each other’s hobbies and pastimes that are particular to the other. And we have some of those. Or it might be as simple as one of us wanting to go for a walk or a cycle, but the other feels less inclined on the particular occasion.
I had a couple of acquaintances in a previous life, Graham and Hilary. Lovely people. If I bumped into Graham I’d often ask, “How’s it going Graham, all ok?” And he’d reply, “Nearly perfect, thanks!” as deadpan as you like.
The first time I heard his reply, I asked, “Oh, something wrong?” And said, “No, not at all! I’m a man, so it’s impossible to be perfect, isn’t it?”
That was Graham’s dry sense of humour and not poking unfair fun or prejudice of any kind at anyone. But it stuck in my mind, and it’s a helpful idea: even if there’s the occasional imperfection, let’s be thankful for something that’s ‘nearly perfect’! I’d say that’s a great way to look at our cherished relationships too.
It can take but small things to receive much in return in our relationships that matter. For us it’s been the smaller, more regular things, outings, and gestures rather than how much they cost or how exclusive they were. These have made the routine un-routine and have meant a lot to us in enjoying our life together in retirement.
And this is a great audience to ask for further suggestions around the topic, so what might you add? How do you spend your post-retirement time with your partner? Do you go together everywhere, or does each of you do your own thing?