Baby Boomer Lifestyle - Conflict Resolution in Retirement

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One of the emotional issues facing those of you who are considering retirement is the amount of time you will be spending with your spouse.  When you change from spending 8+ hours a day outside the house at your work to suddenly spending 24 hours a day with your spouse, conflict inevitably comes up. You both have your own interests and agendas.  Sometimes they’re miles apart!

Not only is the conflict unpleasant but it affects your health.  To keep your stress level down and your heart healthy, resolve conflicts by working together to meet the needs of everyone concerned.  Honest communication is the key. Here are some tips that work during the majority of conflicts:

  • Take a breath and count to 10.  Breathe slowly and deeply to calm down your emotions if you’re feeling angry.
  • Have the intention of working cooperatively toward a resolution or agreement. Focus on the positive not the negative.
  • Attack the challenges, not the person.  You are looking for a solution, not trying to be a winner or turn the other person into a loser.
  • Don’t waste time on “who started it.” Work together to figure out the next step to remedy the situation.
  • Focus on the future not on all the wrongdoings and emotions of the past. Avoid using phrases such as “You always…..”
  • Really listen to the concerns of the other person.  Come from the heart and do it without judgement. Agree to give each party a specific amount of time to speak (say10 minutes), without interruption.
  • Come from a place of respect. Name calling and unkind words will only escalate emotions on both sides. If you can’t control your emotions, walk away after agreeing to a cool-off period.
  • Avoid blaming the other person and take responsibility for your feelings. Start your sentences with “I” rather than “you” and express your emotions. Don’t make the other person guess what you’re thinking or feeling. They’ll inevitably be wrong, causing further conflict.
  • Brainstorm some positive solutions by beginning with what you both agree on rather than on what is lacking.  If you look hard enough, you will find something.
  • Know your goal.  What do you want the person to do?  How do want them to behave? What are YOUR needs? Be specific.
  • Think about where you want to be in five years time.  Will this conflict impact that scenario?  How do you want to remember it?

So take a deep breath, listen, be fair, be flexible and remember that there is always a solution!

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