Q: I worked hard for decades and retired three years ago. My wife and I planned to travel extensively -- but with (first) the pandemic and then some related health concerns, we've set that idea aside. Now I'm having difficulty adjusting my expectations for retirement while struggling with discontentment. Can you offer any suggestions?
Jim: Most of us have been conditioned by advertisements to picture retirement as a well-deserved existence of luxury and leisure. The problem is that many people can simply never make it to this "paradise" -- and those who do may find it doesn't match the hype. Throw in the global upheaval of the past couple of years and you've got a recipe for restlessness and dissatisfaction.
I'd encourage you and your wife to shake up the status quo. Start by taking an honest personal inventory -- individually and as a couple -- of who you are, what you desire and what you have to offer. It's quite possible that deep inside you want the opportunity to keep contributing to something bigger than yourselves. As an illustration, Focus on the Family has been enormously blessed by the invaluable contributions of many retirees who volunteer their skills and experience to help us in our outreach.
If you feel something like this might provide the fulfillment you've been lacking, I can assure you that many organizations need help. You might start with your church or local school district -- they always need mentors or teaching assistants. Countless museums, nature preserves and fine art centers are searching for docents. Many historical sites depend on volunteer help for groundskeeping and general upkeep.
That being said, also be aware that major changes in life can sometimes lead to bouts with actual depression. If you think this may be your situation, I'd invite you to call our counseling staff for a free consultation; the number is 855-771-HELP (4357).
Q: I'm a single woman and I'm interested in a guy who works for a company across the street. Mutual friends told me he recently broke up with his girlfriend. I don't want to be insensitive -- but also don't want to miss out. How soon should I try to let him know that I'm interested in going out with him?
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Marriage & Family Formation: Time often heals, but the amount of time required depends on many factors. So, I can't tell you, "Wait six weeks and then make your move." Instead, keep your eyes open and go slow.
I'd especially suggest that you carefully consider that this man has experienced a real loss. Different people grieve such losses at different rates. You'll need to approach the situation with a great deal of compassion and sensitivity.
Of course, much depends on how well you actually know the guy. If you're already at least "conversational friends," you probably have some idea of how you'd talk to him about this. But if not, be careful to slowly build connection with him while maintaining an appropriate emotional distance.
When you've earned the right to do so, you might try asking him some questions about the recent breakup. What was the experience like for him? What did he learn from it? Who made the choice to end the relationship? Factors like these will likely make a huge difference in what he's going through.
Whatever you do, don't push him into a "rebound" relationship. And if he's the kind of guy who would jump into something like that just because he desperately "needs" somebody ... well, that will only lead to other problems down the road. Contentment and self-sufficiency are key factors in the psychological health of any individual, and it takes two healthy people to make a healthy couple.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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