Retirement triggers marital crisis

He was a powerful figure in a very successful career. She was a supportive wife and loving mother. All set for retirement they were both shocked at the desperately negative place they found themselves in.

This gentlemen has kindly shared his story with you. He really couldn’t find or see a way forward and had concluded that leaving the relationship was probably their only option.

Many couples suffer with this kind of problem because they are unable to understand how to solve it.

These are his words.

Ours is a unique story – or so we thought until we met with Stephen. 

Having been married for over 38 years, we were a role-model couple and an envy of many divorced around us amongst our friends and family.

Yet, after I took retirement from over 30 years of career that involved extensive global travel, I found our life at home far from being blissful. Suddenly, we were spending a lot of time together but this was not making me or my wife happier as we had expected it would.

What seemed like odd bits of complaining, that I had previously (ignored as noise) with the alleged need to focus on the higher calling from demands of work, got amplified into a 24/7 situation. We both responded by digging up all the past grievances and dug ourselves into a constant state of bickering and arguing – mostly about historical events that neither of us could undo. Each of us felt under appreciated for the sacrifices made and we were feeling short changed of the happiness that we had strived for all our lives.

After my retirement, I felt free for the first time to do what I always wanted to do but could not when working – we had the means and time – why should we not both have fun. After all, we had both made significant sacrifices and deserved to now live together in the peace and harmony.

I could not find this positive energy at home – it was because of all the wrong that I was perceived to have done in my past but could no longer undo. The option of running away and restarting with a clean slate looked like the only way to avoid what seemed like a marriage destined to be full of negativism.

We both loved each other and each had a lot to lose by breaking up at this late stage in our lives. So we decided to find and go for the best marriage counsellor we could find.

About that time, I read an email sent by Stephen with one of his offers of a free session. I read his blogs and these echoed well with me. It was easy to convince my wife to try out a session with Stephen to figure out if we had a chance to save our marriage.

For me it was a last port of call before I walked away from being constantly reminded of how many mistakes I had made in the 38 years of marriage. For my wife, it was an opportunity to figure out how to set our marriage on a better path.

At our first session with Stephen, we were shocked by how quickly he understood us and our issues. He was also able to show us a very credible path to figure out for ourselves the truth from the noise in our domestic discussions. He was clear from the outset. He was not there to fix our marriage. He was going to show us what we were doing wrong and help us figure out what each of us wanted from the marriage. It was for us to then decide for ourselves if we were willing to make the changes needed to bridge the gaps going forward.

Stephen is a highly skilled and an experienced marriage counsellor. There are not many situations he has not come across in the past. He also cleverly compliments his experiential knowledge with structured relationship frameworks that enable self-discovery and provide foundation to the advice he gives.

Initially, I wanted to rush to a conclusion but soon realised the value of a longer timeframe for our engagement with him. Some sessions were for us as a couple while others were as individuals. Each session left us with a “wow” – if only we had known that going into the marriage or “ah hah” – so that is what is causing all the arguments between us. We had time between the sessions to experiment between us and to provide Stephen with feedback.

He taught us to understand how different we were in our needs and how recalling historical incidents to fuel an argument (whilst tempting and natural) was futile. We also learnt that passion happens from having shared vision of the future and from doing the right things together where there is alignment. More than anything else, we have stopped clouding our relationship with issues from the past and are able to have conversations about situations objectively. We still have differences but at least we are able to deal with these in a more rational and a mature way.

We owe Stephen a big thank you for putting our lives together on a positive track and giving our marriage a decent chance of a success. He is empathetic, understanding and assertive on several aspects. He gave us very wise counsel. It is now up to us to embed what we learnt into our daily lives. In the end, whatever we decide will be more rational rather than being based on an emotionally confused state.

About Stephen Hedger

International relationship expert Stephen Hedger's philosophy on relationship problems is this: Couples fail to understand their relationships because they are too focused on their problems and so they totally miss what created them. Stephen's approach is a refreshing and enlightening journey that helps couples uncover their truth. His strategies uncover the knowledge that all couples need to create a successful and lasting passionate connection. If you are in crisis and you need help, book an initial consultation today to get your life back on track.