Home Couples & Family Psychology Developmental LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XVIII. PLATE FIVE: SEPTEMBER SONG (GROWING OLD AND FACING MAJOR LIFE CHALLENGES AS A COUPLE)

LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XVIII. PLATE FIVE: SEPTEMBER SONG (GROWING OLD AND FACING MAJOR LIFE CHALLENGES AS A COUPLE)

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This final developmental plate is clearly complex rid often elusive, for it involves four of the personal issues that we must face in our lives> What did I spend my life working for? Why am I alive? When will I die? Will I live alone before I die? In this chapter we will first address the challenges associated with preparation for retirement and other tasks of our senior years, then turn to preparation for the death or illness of a partner.

Forming: What Will This New Situation Be Like?

When one or both partners in a relationship retire from their job, it impacts on both partners and on the relationship. There is also an important retirement process that occurs when one of the partners who has primarily served in the role of parent and homemaker must adjust to children leaving home, living in a smaller home or declining physical capacity to take care of the home. Each partner, in his or her own way, must adjust to shifts in their own life and the life of their partner as they approach the final life stage.

Typically, at some point in the life of a couple, most of the plates (such as establishing a home and raising children or completing a project) are no longer at center stage There are now no longer distractions from the two fundamental questions: What are we truly about? What would I do without you? Alice observes that: “. . . after giving [our] attention to the children, to the remodeling [of their home] and to [Fred] losing his job for a worrisome period of time before finding new work, now we can concentrate on ourselves again.”

In addition, at this advanced stage in the life of most couples, time is often set aside for individual growth and development. Alice has initiated her own twelve-step recovery program from alcoholism and both Alice and Fred together have participated in several personal growth workshops for couples in recent years.

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