Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Pockets of Silence

Every now and then, after all these years, I can still crack my husband up by saying something unexpected.

Happy mature couple discussing their finances at home

Retirement carries some unexpected adjustments. There was a time, when he was managing a major contract in Germany, where over dinner, I once told AdventureMan I needed him to look at me and to listen. He looked at me in horror; he told me later he thought I was leaving him. No. No. I just looked at him and told him that I am very independent, but that at least once, every single day of our lives together, I need five minutes of his undivided attention.

“Five minutes isn’t much,” he said to me.

“Five minutes is more than I am getting now,” I responded. I knew he was busy, and under a lot of stress, but relationships require nurturing, and I knew I could get by on five minutes, as long as I could count on that five minutes to stay connected.

Now, years later, the shoe is on the other foot. AdventureMan LOVES retirement, and he comes into my office all the time to tell me about a new Tiger Swallowtail in his garden, or to update me on our financial worth, or to use me as a sounding board for a political item that has come up in his garden club.

There are times I need focus. All the years we were married, I had that time, and more, I had all this time to myself, and I learned how to fill and manage my time. I rarely had to coordinate anything with AdventureMan, he just trusted me to manage the house and finances and making sure everything was in its place.

Once he had time, I had to learn how to share my time. I also had to let go of a lot of control. The first time he organized and cleaned out the garage, I almost had a heart attack. He was so proud! And I was so horrified! I am very logical, and more than a little compulsive, and I knew where everything was, in its logical place, and now . . . things were, very literally, out of control. A part of me wanted to kill him, and another part of me said “hey, cool, now you don’t have to clean out the garage, he he he” but making that gain meant giving up control over where things were!

AdventureMan started cooking, and suddenly pots and pans and measuring spoons were not where they were “supposed” to be. AdventureMan took over the garden, and I danced for joy at not having to go out and water in the heat, but I lost control over what was planted out there.

It’s hard. We are both managers, and both very good at it. We’ve had to draw some lines. I’ve had to share territory I always thought of as mine, and he has had to consult with me, when he would much rather carry out his plans directly.

We’ve both had to draw some lines. We don’t touch stuff in one another’s offices. We consult. When I clean out the pantry, the first thing I do is show him the logic, even put little signs so he will know where to find things when he is cooking. I put up with things ending up in the wrong place, except for the spice drawers, where all the normal cooking herbs and in spices are in the left drawer and all the chilis and peppers and exotic herbs are in the right drawer, with all the teas. It can be irrational, but sometimes it is the smallest things that matter.

From time to time, I need a pocket of silence.

I welcome my sweet husband into my office; he is always welcome. From time to time, however, if I am working on paying bills or a blog post or designing a quilt, or trying to get my readings done for my bible study, I tell him I can listen for five minutes, and then I need a pocket of silence.

The first time I said it, he looked at me in horrified disbelief, what I was saying was so astonishing to him that he couldn’t even take it in. Once he comprehended, he started laughing, and now he tells his friends he has a wife who needs her “pockets of silence” – and I do. As he has become more relaxed and stress free, he has become chattier. As I live a life of commitments and connections in retirement, I need some times with no talking.

I need silence in my life the way some people need to be around other people hanging out. Silence refreshes me. Silence helps me focus, helps me think things through and develop a strategy. I am never bored with silence; for me silence is a resource I use with great respect and gratitude. I love my family and my friends, and then – I need a pocket of silence.

August 16, 2014 Posted by | Aging, Character, Civility, Communication, Community, Cultural, Family Issues, Generational, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Marriage, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships | 5 Comments