Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

He says:

Fred says: As Hannah and I were approaching our retirement, we would often sit with a glass of wine, looking forward to our “sunset years” together and discussing plans for getting to know each other again after many years of working and raising a large family.

We are both retired now, Hannah a little early due to health issues. The first year or so was wonderful with exciting trips to various places and visiting friends. Just recently, Hannah announced that she was “bored to tears” spending so much time at home and has started volunteering for various organizations.

Hannah’s commitment to her volunteerism has quickly grown to where the hours spent are almost the equivalent of a full-time job. I have protested, pointing out to Hannah that she may quickly wind up overburdened, with a return of her health issues; and besides, I miss her at home. This is not the retirement dream I envisioned!

She says:

Hannah says: Fred is correct about our dreams of spending the “golden days” of retirement together. But reality dictates that we cannot live a dream 24 hours a day.  I feel sad that Fred sulks when I take on volunteering, but even though we have been reasonably compatible throughout our marriage, I worry that being constantly with each other may derail our relationship and I am upset that Fred expects me to spend our retirement in his often sedentary manner.

In addition, I have always been very active and still see myself as a person with a viable mission outside the home.

Fred needs to realize how important it is to me to listen to the call I feel within myself to serve others as well as to serve Fred.

What do they do?

Often couples who have successfully managed to enjoy married life and work through the difficult times, drive each other crazy after retiring and being alone in the same home all day. This appears not to be the case for Fred and Hannah, but there are issues that need to be addressed.

Each of us needs to listen to what God calls us to. It appears this couple has led an active, enjoyable life, raising children and being very productive. Fred appears to have the mindset that his work on earth is finished and now he can take a lot of time to relax and reflect. Hannah, on the other hand, still believes she is being called to provide some service outside the home. Perhaps Hannah’s energy level is still high, while Fred’s is less so. They need to share their feelings and thoughts on the subject of how they enjoy spending their day.

Retired people are aware of their long life and are more likely to be preparing for that next “big step” in life: death. We all have to be at peace with the daily choices we make, so that at our final judgment, we will be able to face God and know each of us has accomplished what he has called us to do.

If they are not already doing so, perhaps some time spent in daily prayer and meditation together will help Fred and Hannah to draw closer in their “new” relationship with God and each other.

If Hannah is really interested in volunteering and if she is able not to let that role overshadow Fred’s need to spend time with her, then she should be able to share what she possesses with others. Again, verbal communication is key to solving their problem.

Even though Fred and Hannah are retired, there are still 24 hours in a day and each of us has to answer to our heavenly Father how we have used that time while here on earth.