Guest Opinion: Dear Susi Q

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By Clint Christie

Q: My wife has retired after an active career. She watches TV all day and while she puts headphones on, we have such a small place, the constant action on the screen makes me irritable. (I’m retired too). How can I handle this?

 

A: Newly (and not so newly) retired couples often navigate these kinds of issues. Retirement is a difficult time of transition for many people.

The root cause of irritability, in this case, may not be about the TV viewing itself but instead the sense that this person has lost his partner to an inanimate object. Being transfixed on what’s happening on the screen all day means that his wife is not available in real life, or IRL, as the shorthand text version has it, to spend any significant time with him (assuming the questioner is male).

I’d suggest that the husband invites his partner to take part in some favorite shared activity, whether it’s a walk, going out to lunch together, or playing cards, for example, the way they used to. He might talk to her about his feelings that they’ve lost connection and that he misses that, and her. Maybe he suggests she take up another hobby, such as crossword puzzles, or, if she used to love reading, he could research book clubs she could join.

The Susi Q has a range of activities and programs for active adults, from discussion groups about current affairs to yoga classes to travel presentations and more. These are great opportunities to socialize with others in similar situations, which both partners could enjoy together or separately. 

Another option is for her to record programs and watch them at a time when he is out of the house. If she resists, there may be more going on with her than appears on the surface. Perhaps she is depressed or anxious. These are feelings that he might gently suggest that she explore with a therapist, though I understand this is tricky.

They could come to an agreement about parameters for viewing to which they both agree, for example, setting aside a certain time of day or evening for her to watch as much as she likes. 

In the end, with this and other challenges that come with retirement, it’s all about balance and give-and-take.

–Clint Christie, Licensed Marriage Family Therapist 

 

“Dear Susi Q,” brought to you by nonprofit Laguna Beach Seniors, is intended to provide helpful advice for readers on matters including relationships, retirement, home safety, transportation, mental/physical health, and local entertainment and educational resources. It’s “Dear Abby” for the Laguna Beach crowd.

Qualified staff, support group leaders, and volunteers stand ready to answer your questions, so please send them to [email protected]. We can’t wait to help.

No identifying names will ever be used. Some questions, such as today’s, may be a composite of several submitted. 

For more information about Susi Q and Laguna Beach Seniors, visit www.thesusiq.org.

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