Thom and I are still away enjoying some “rightsized” travel. This week I invited another blogger friend named Nora Hall to share some of her SMART ideas on rightsizing and retirement. Nora lives on the east coast and regularly writes about relationships and retirement with warm-hearted humor and encouragement. Please enjoy Nora’s thoughts on rightsizing our brain clutter.
I first “met” Kathy Gottberg in 2015 when I read her blog, “Letting Go of the Clutter in Your Mind.” I found it here and continued reading about Rightsizing on her blog. I was hooked! Her comments made tremendous sense to me and for my audience. I found her wisdom to be especially true when it comes to Rightsizing Your Brain Clutter.
Although Kathy’s thoughts on Rightsizing apply to people of all ages, I focus on individuals who are, or will soon be, retired. That said, letting go of the clutter in our minds apply for all of us regardless of our age.
Mind Clutter can build without our realizing it.
Kathy’s observations on getting rid of mind clutter are particularly relevant for couples struggling to find compatibility in the new stage of living together as retirees. Most couples find that the logistics of being with one another all day and evening are more complex than anticipated. Regardless of whether partners worked at home or outside the home, life is different when employment responsibilities end.
For several years I’ve met with retirees for discussions on the joys and trials in retirement relationships. One thing I learned through these discussions is that marriage is often more intense in retirement. Retirees typically spend more time together and may tend to depend on one another for company, gratification, and entertainment.
Given this more frequent togetherness, retirees sometimes “get on one another’s nerves”. They become more aware of their mate’s potentially annoying habits. This is when removing mind clutter becomes crucially important. During my research for my book Survive Your Husband’s Retirement, “Margaret”, a woman I interviewed, told me “Life is good now that we understand one another’s needs.”
Before his retirement, Margaret had not noticed how frequently her husband Jim talked to her while she was on the phone. She also began to wonder if she had ignored his always asking where she was going or if that had only cropped up in retirement. Either way, these habits began to annoy her.
Time to rid yourself of clutter.
Fortunately, Margaret recognized the importance of letting go of angry thoughts. She did not want her negative reactions to Jim’s behavior to become a thorn in her side. She knew if she let her annoyance fester, their relationship would deteriorate and retirement would become miserable. Instead, she asked Jim to talk with her about what she found bothersome.
During the discussion, Jim said he didn’t realize he did those things but would strive to break the habits. This discussion helped Margaret understand that his actions were the result of his wanting to show interest in her friends and activities. She saw he did not feel, (as she had thought) that he wanted to make it his new job to run her life!
Rightsizing Your Brain Clutter, a great practice at any age
As Kathy regularly points out here on her blog, Rightsizing involves many aspects of life such as possessions, our wants and, I think most important, our attitudes. If we clutter our minds by letting another’s actions bother us, we’ll miss the goodness of that relationship.
Communicating to understand your mate’s needs may be your most vital marital bliss tool.
No matter your age or length of your relationship, today is your day to create terrific communication with your partner. It will help you avoid pitfalls that clutter minds and destroy special relationships.
One last thing—A journal could help you downsize your brain cutter and improve your relationship.
To keep a clear record of your feelings in particular situations, it’s helpful to write about that soon after it happens.
- Make note of your mate’s action(s) that most annoy you.
- Identify physical feelings you have when an annoying action occurs.
- Ask yourself if this habit must be eliminated or if it’s not truly a problem.
- Have a conversation with your mate about the habit and decide together how this can be improved.
- “Let go” of any frustration or anger once the situation is resolved.
Like any significant change in life, retirement brings both joys and adjustments to any relationship. Learning to navigate those changes in ways that serve both partners is SMART. Rightsizing your brain clutter is a good way to start.
Nora Hall is the author of Survive Your Husband’s Retirement: Tips For Staying Happily Married. She also shares ideas about relationships and retirement on her blog of the same name.