You have worked hard all your life and now, thanks to retirement, you find yourself free from the demands of the daily grind. Leaving the workforce may seem like a daunting prospect for many people as they transition to spending more time at home.
However, retirement can give you a new lease of life because as well as enjoying your newly found freedom, you can spend some quality time with your significant other. For this article, we spoke to bloggers to find out why they believe it is important for retired couples to make time for each other. We also asked them for their top tips on how couples can fill their time with a sense of fun and adventure during retirement.
Your State Pension age is the earliest age you are entitled to claim your pension from the state and the age you receive it depends on your gender and when you were born. The State Pension has been undergoing changes since 2010 and in 2018, the state retirement age was 65 for men and women. However, this age at which people can claim their retirement pension is gradually increasing and is estimated to reach 67 by 2028.
Whether you have reached retirement age, or are shortly due to retire, there any many reasons to be excited and look to embrace this new chapter of your life. There are many cost-effective activities to embark on with your partner as well as a range of free things you can enjoy.
Retirement is the ideal time to get out and about and explore everything the UK has to offer. You can look forward to new experiences, from watching the waves lap the sandy and tranquil beaches of the South West coast to embarking on interesting tours at some of the best sight-seeing hot spots the country’s busy cities have to offer.
Roisin from Roaming Roo and the Tiny Travellers said couples can make more time for each other by getting away on trips together: “Not only will you be sharing new experiences and creating memories together, but by being away from home, you remove yourself from everyday distractions that take you away from really connecting whilst spending your time together. There are always dishes to wash, a room that needs hoovering, that television programme that you need to watch. Whilst you might be physically spending time together at home, there are often a lot of distractions that take your mind elsewhere. Fill your bank of memories with all those special little moments. You will be amazed at all the little things that become such treasured memories in the future.”
Roisin believes that making memories and spending time with your significant other is crucial at any stage of life because “once you lose a loved one, the memories and photographs from your time spent together become the most valuable treasures that you will ever own”. Roisin’s husband died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2015 and the loss made her realise that “time spent with loved ones should be a number one priority for everyone”. The family has always enjoyed weekend trips and she explained further on her blog that adventures and travelling were therapeutic and “it became clear how fragile life can be and that we had to grab it with both hands and make the most of it”.
Having a sense of routine can be one of the aspects many people miss when they retire. Mornings looked the same for many years; the alarm goes off, you get up and eat breakfast, wash, get dressed and go to work. When you retire there might not be a need to set a daily alarm or keep to a tight morning ritual. However, having more spare time on your hands means it is important to reinvent your day and discovering a new and mutually enjoyable hobby can work wonders for your physical and mental health.
Kate from The Less-Refined Mind told us that while she believes it is important that each person pursues their own interests independently, it is also a great way to spend time together by signing up for a new hobby or class together: “That’s how we remain in tune and continue to have fun in each other’s company.
“We have always enjoyed being active together, and having a buddy is a great incentive to stay fit. Finding a mutual hobby that also promotes a healthy lifestyle is the perfect way to spend time together, especially in older age.
“In the past, we have been boxing, walking, geocaching, and swimming together. But we also love to play Scrabble with a glass of wine, word games are excellent for keeping the mind sharp.”
Sit down with your partner and write a list of all the hobbies and activities you enjoy and work out which ones you would like to do together.
Here are some ideas to help inspire you to take up a new hobby.
Candle making has been around for centuries and has now become an art form. This relaxing past time is a great choice for those who rely on mobility aids, including straight stairlifts because the activity can be done while seated. Once your masterpieces are completed you will have a special addition to put pride of place in your home.
Browse the pages of your local newspaper, or search for dance classes near your home and sign up. Dancing is a great activity for the older generation and of all the performing arts, dance can be one of the most therapeutic. Not only are you spending time with your partner, but regular dancing is great for “losing weight, maintain strong bones, improving posture and muscle strength, increasing balance and coordination, and beating stress”, says the NHS.
Dance classes can be a fairly cheap hobby which can bring also introduce you both to a new circle of friends. The NHS advises: “If the first class you try falls short of your expectations, don’t be put off. It is worth trying a few different classes until you find the right one for you.”
From jive and line dancing to salsa dancing and ballroom, you are sure to find a style and class to suit you both. Wheelchair dancing also means that nothing is off limits for those with mobility issues.
Para Dance UK is a charity and national governing body for Para Dance Sport in the UK. Their aim is to develop and promote dance as a sport for an inclusive leisure activity across the country. The charity states on its website: “At a local level, we have set up groups across the UK that meet regularly to learn and enjoy dancing. We often have our local groups described as ‘families’ and that’s exactly what we want to achieve as we spread through the UK.” The charity has a search function so you can find classes in your local area.
Everyday Health says that “sign language speakers use an element of drama in their communication, like mimes at the park or the most accomplished of thespians. Perhaps that’s why most people consider signing to be beautiful and graceful”.
Enrolling on a sign language course with your partner is a great way to learn a new skill, but it can also open up many opportunities during retirement, states Everyday Health: “Once you have certification as an interpreter, you may want to use your abilities in community volunteer services. If you are still learning, be ready for little opportunities like helping a deaf person at the grocery store checkout.”
Collecting coupons to reduce a bill is a popular pastime for many people. When done correctly, couponing can slash your shopping bills, bag freebies and take a large chunk off your bill when dining out with your partner.
Keep an eye out in your local newspaper for money off coupons and sign up to websites such as Ashleigh Money Saver which contains tips and tricks on how to save money as well as printable deals.
Couponing might not sound exciting, however, once you get started, you and your partner will have a stack of coupons ready for your next shopping trip or a meal out. Just think of the money you will save!
Older adults with health conditions such as arthritis might find it harder to hold a book or turn pages. Macular dementia, glaucoma, cataracts and other issues might create age-related vision problems which in turn can make printed words a blur.
However, that should not put you off your love of literature, because there is a way to still enjoy your favourite novel or discover a new book that you simply can’t put down.
Buying some audiobooks and settling down to listen to them together can be a great way to relax, unwind, and spend some time together as Yasmin from Generation Avocado told us: “A date idea that my friends introduced me to and I adore is terribly simple. Listening to an audiobook together and pausing it occasionally, to discuss. It’s like a movie night, but somehow better and more intimate.
“We have done this with podcasts too which introduces all sorts of new topics of interest for discussion. It isn’t fancy or expensive, but it is quality time and even better if one of you has been chosen the audiobook since you get a little bit of insight into what your partner is interested and you both get to learn something new together.
“I think it's lovely because with a film or reading together in bed there is the implicit assumption that you shall both be quiet and maybe cuddle, but with listening to a book or a podcast you are invited to talk, learn and discuss.”
Yasmin said this activity doesn’t need to be limited to couples, groups of friends can also adapt the idea for a modern twist on a classic book club for a social event.
We also asked Yasmin why it is important for couples to make time for each other: “It is all so easy to take someone for granted while they are pledged to you. Too often when you live with friends you see them less and the same applies to the partner you know will always be there.
“Yes, they will always be there, but have you truly showed them attention, listened to them recently without distraction. Undivided attention, even if it is just for five minutes. At work you prioritised your boss, at brunch, you prioritise your friends, with your hobbies you prioritise you. I don’t think it is too much to expect that every once in a while, to prioritise your relationship as a couple and your partner.”
Yasmin also explained why she describes herself as being a “staunch and vocal advocate” of quality time with a loved one: “Our memories are stronger when they are made with people, this is, in part, because we get to re-live them when we see those people.
“With my fiancé, this could be the meal we made together, the cup of tea brought to me in the morning when I felt terrible, the wonderful holiday we took, or that time we celebrated the small win at a new job I wasn't sure that I liked yet. Those memories are important and cherished, but they would not be so if I had done it alone.”
Cod that is deep-fried in a crispy golden batter served with a hearty portion of fluffy chips and mushy peas is still one of the country’s most popular tea-time treats.
Heading to your nearest beach to enjoy a “chippy tea” when you have a craving for cod or a pining for peas is a great way to make time for your loved one as well as satisfying hungry appetites. Many fish and chip restaurants across the country will have information about where the fish has come from so you can help to do your bit by Turning the Tide on Overfishing.
Not only does a portion of fish and chips taste delicious, but according to Super Fish UK, it is also one of the healthiest takeaways you can enjoy: “ The British Nutrition Society has stated an average portion of fish and chips contains three times less fat than the same sized portion of chicken tikka masala and rice. So, what makes fish and chips a particularly good takeaway? Let’s start with the chips, the potatoes which form the chips contain fibre, potassium and vitamin C. The fish as part of the meal also brings many benefits as seafood contains vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D, Omega 3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, calcium and iodine.
To help make your money stretch even further ask if the restaurant offers a pensioner’s fish and chips portion at a discounted price.
There are also many beaches across the country which are wheelchair friendly and easily accessible for those with mobility issues. While some of the UK coastlines are rife with rocky cliffs and ridges, there are also plenty of flat and accessible places for you and your partner to get close to the sea.
Boscombe Pier Beach in Bournemouth has some disabled access beach hunts on the sand which feature charging points for visitors who have electric scooters. Handiscover wrote: “Once you’re at Boscombe Beach, make your way to the Boscombe Beach Office to rent beach-worthy wheelchairs.
“Because Boscombe is a stunning cliffside beach, there are fully accessible cliff lifts. These lifts are free for wheelchair users and a companion. They’ll take you to the top of the cliffs for some truly inspiring vistas. Wheelchair-friendly land trains are also available to take you from Boscombe Pier to some other local destinations.”
Forest bathing is a Japanese practice (known as shinrin-yoku), Forestry England describe it as a “simple method of being calm and quiet amongst the trees, observing nature around you whilst breathing deeply”.
The relaxation technique is something Stephen from How Many Miles recommends as a leisurely activity older couples can enjoy together: “Forest Bathing, or simply walking in the woods, is a proven and accessible way to keep active, relax and spend quality time together as a couple.”
No matter what type of lifestyle you lead, taking some time out to reconnect with yourself as well as your loved one, can do wonders for your mental health. The National Trust states: “Despite the name, you won’t need to pack your swimsuit: it simply means the practice of slowing down and immersing yourself in the forest atmosphere”.
Forest bathing allows you to take time to really focus on the natural world around you; from the sunlight peeping through the leafy trees, to the light and crisp sound of birds tweeting high up in the branches.
There really is no right or wrong way to enjoy forest bathing, but for the total novice, here are some tips.
Forestry England goes on to state “Forest bathing exercises can be great fun for adults and children alike and useful in teaching concentration and mindfulness. Forest Holidays wrote about the many benefits of forest bathing: “It is good for both physical and mental wellbeing. It is proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness and free up creativity.”
What better way to make time for each other than to head for the great outdoors and appreciate Mother Nature?
As well as indulging in some forest bathing, Stephen also told us why he thinks it is important for couples to make time for each other: “You can have all the plans in the world, but to commit to a set time to ditch every other duty is a great way to make the couple accountable and consistent. It becomes a habit that you cherish and look forward to.
“Often our partners are our best friends, but we manage to take them for granted and prioritise everything and everyone else. We don't know what lies around the corner and every moment spent together is precious. My partner is the person that makes me smile, laugh and think and every moment with her is a gift.”
Creating some simple and tasty food, a thermos of tea or a pitcher of ice-cold lemonade is another great day-date idea as Jo from Tea and Cake for the Soul recommends: “Date days can be something as simple as going for a walk around a lake or park and resting with sandwiches and a cuppa or make a whole day of it by driving somewhere further afield.
“Dates don’t have to cost so much once you retire as you are not tied to weekends and summer holiday times. Make use of free attractions such as walks, gardens and museums. Have a picnic overlooking the sea. Just enjoy being together.”
Jo also says, “you are never too old for romance” and that with some many life commitments it is crucial to make time for each other: “All too often, our busy lives get in the way of spending time together. Even if you are always around one another, you might not necessarily be making time for each other.
“It’s so easy to get caught up in normal day-to-day chores and you can lose sight of doing something special together. You would think as you get older and head into retirement that you would have more free time, but it seems the opposite. There are medical appointments, household maintenance, clubs, grown-up children and grandchildren to take up your time now.”
Going out for meals occasionally is lovely, but sometimes nothing beats a delicious home-cooked supper. Make an effort by dressing the table, lighting some candles and putting on some music for ambience.
Romance author Deidre Ann Anderson said when it comes to love and romance, a classic dinner date is timeless: “Everyone likes to be pampered and appreciated so, a well-thought-out dinner never gets old. All good investments require time and energy to grow and reap success. Your relationship with your partner is a life investment. Invest the necessary time, and your love will bloom into a profitable partnership.”
You don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen creating supper; something quick and simple will be equally appreciated.
Stargazing is a simple and free way to not only spend time together but to also practice mindfulness, and you don’t need to know much about the night sky to look up and be mesmerised by the huge array of constellations.
Some constellations and planets can be seen without the use of a telescope. For the best stargazing opportunities head out on a clear night to a place where there is a little light pollution as possible.
Before setting off make sure you pack some essentials including blankets and chairs. There are star maps online which are updated throughout the year to give people an accurate reflection of how the night sky changes with the seasons. Useful apps include Google Sky Map, Starwalk and Exoplanet, which can be used to locate and identify a range of stars and constellations in our skies.
Earth Sky describes stargazing as an activity that anyone can do: “It’s for people who like seeing themselves as part of a bigger picture, people with a sense of wonder, people who just like being outside at night. Be persistent. Watch the sky a lot and watch regularly. You’ll learn by looking! And you’ll make a connection with nature that’ll last your whole life long.”
Janelle from The Nurse Note said that simple activities, such as stargazing, can bring so much joy: “I always enjoy getting outside and taking a walk together. It gives the opportunity to get some fresh air and enjoy nature. I’m also a big advocate for engaging in a new activity together. This can help rev up the intimacy in your relationship and help to reignite the sparks.
“With so many competing priorities it’s easy for couples to drift apart if they do not spend time together. Even if you have been together for many years, time spent with your significant other helps to increase the level of happiness and wellbeing in your relationship.”
Janelle also explained that it can be hard to carve out time as a couple but to help keep on top of her busy life she likes to plan dates: “I like to do it the old fashion way by writing it in my daily planner. This doesn’t always have to include an activity outside the house, some of the best times that I spend with my husband is sitting on the couch together after putting our daughter to bed, laughing hysterically while we catch up on each other’s lives. Like anything else in your life that’s important, your time as a couple must be a priority that you work on regularly. Spending time with your partner keeps you connected in this overscheduled, chaotic world.”
No matter how you choose to spend your days after retirement, it is important to make time for your loved one so the two of you can happily embark on this new chapter of your lives.