Tag Archives: relationships

How to Live Longer

This one eye popping chart is worth a thousands insights and might just change your social attitude. How to live longer involves so many complex variables that it makes us thirsty for simplicity. I am a big believer in the value of social networks for their support and sustainability in all stages of life. If your are single in retirement, I have mentioned that a solid social network of reliable and caring people can give you quality of life and happiness in your final years, even without a romantic relationship.

But, I also mention that having a partner in later life is vitally important since it often becomes our primary social and emotional support. Partnership stimulates our life involvement and longevity. So, can we have it both ways? Let’s take a look at the chart above.

If the colors are hard to see in the chart(1), the first bar is women, second is men, and the third is one person in a couple.  It’s clear that longevity follows a pattern. Single men go first, then single women, while being a couple is the best longevity. Does this mean we should rush out and get involved even if we are comfortable being single? Not necessarily, because what this chart does not tell us is that the quality of any relationship is the key.

The depth of emotional involvement in your relationship tends to determine your benefit. So, if you already have a supportive network of involved friends, you don’t want to change that. Likewise, if you have a supportive romantic relationship, of course, you don’t want to change that. But, what the chart does not tell us is how many of the couples had both. I believe it’s this combined effect of both your network and a romantic relationship that is the greatest longevity benefit. So, what can we do to live longer:

1.  Maintain a supportive and caring social network of friends
2.  Keep positive relationships with family as much as possible
3.  Be open to a romantic relationship if you are single
4.  Expand your network if you are a couple
5.  Always make your health a top priority

We know this is not the only way to increase your longevity, but the chart convinces us of its importance. Future studies will help us prioritize those factors that are most important for extending life. But, in the end, it’s no surprise that people live for other people.             L.J.

(1)Eric McWhinnie, (3-15-2015) Reatirement Reality: 7 ChartsYou Need to see. Retrieved on 3-20-2015 from: http://www.cheatsheet.com/personal-finance/retirement-reality-5-charts-you-need-to-see.html/2/(originally from J.P. Morgan)

Dating in Retirement


Our need to emotionally bond does not change with aging as some have suggested. We will evaluate for different character traits when dating in retirement. But, the course of romance remains the same. I have talked to many women who, for various reasons, have given up on trying to find another mate. Some women don’t feel attractive or interested in men anymore, and some say they don’t want the trouble of a man. I can understand these reasons very well.

My sister is 58 years old and has been divorced for about 12 years now. But, she won’t date. She finally told me she just lost interest in sex. I know she wants companionship as she has a male friend whom she see every weekend. So, the need to bond with the opposite gender remains healthy and intact. She was a little surprised when I mention that males loose testosterone as their sex drive diminishes too. But, that still didn’t get her to date as she said, “Who wants to date an old lady like me?”

Maintaining a positive self image is important at any stage in life. As our bodies change, its common for both genders to be concerned about our self-confidence. But, we have all been rejected numerous times in life and we survived it. Remember not to let a prior difficult relationship cloud your judgment about moving forward to a better one. It’s probably the men who are more prone to being rejected since they initiate contact and ask for a date.

I checked with my female consultants who confirmed a few suggestions regarding confidence. The first is to always look your best. Men are very visual beings, as we all know, and they often go with first impressions. That means they take your entire appearance into consideration. Since looking attractive is important, dying your hair and wearing stylish attire are efforts you can easily make according to my group.

The second suggestion is to look available and, if you’re comfortable with the idea, even sexy. Many of us have lost our connection to intimacy. But, it’s time to reconnect. If you think you can’t look attractive over 60 years old, have you seen photos of Connie Stevens, Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, Tina Turner, Gladys Knight, Glenn Close, Goldie Hawn or Martha Stewart lately? Just being healthy is attractive at any age.

The third suggestion we all agreed upon is to try online dating. If your social circle is smaller in retirement, you need to be a bit more creative. Online dating narrows the field to people who are interested in a relationship and you don’t have to leave the house. It gives you the opportunity to browse the profiles of others anonymously. In this scenario, there is certainly no risk to you as you evaluate the possibilities in the safety of your home. I seen some reports that say up to 25% of new relationships are found online.

The fourth recommendation is the importance of displaying a positive attitude. No matter what happened in the past, we will make the future brighter. I personally like to use positive affirmations and imagery. Before I meet somebody for any reason, I close my eyes and visualize how the meeting will go. If it’s business, I envision a successful agreement. If it’s personal, I expect a successful connection. It’s amazing how behavior follows mental imagery. I started using guided imagery after reading Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain.

If there is still resistance to dating at our age, I sometimes ask the question, “Do you want to grow old and die alone?” It’s a blunt somewhat rhetorical question meant to be provocative. But, it gets people thinking more practically about the future of their social health. I would say that having a partner in retirement is more important than in midlife, since this relationship becomes the primary social support for many. Most of us will have medical procedures that require some help during recovery. Imagine if you became disabled for some reason, what would that be like without a partner who loves you?

In the next installment of Dating in Retirement, I’ll address the impact of reduced libido and the different character traits we now look for in a partner. L.J.

More at:      www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Photo by Ambro. Published on 11 May 2011
Stock Photo – Image ID: 10041092



According to the Census Bureau(1), 685,000 men and 916,000 women graduated from college in 2009. That is 25% fewer men than women that graduate. In 2010, about 47% of the workforce was women. As women become the doctors, attorneys, and CEOs, the social culture around us will change. Since this educational trend is expected to continue, it will result in a gender role reversal as men realize the earning power of women. As women earn more and spend more time with careers, men will naturally take on more of the domestic responsibilities.

The result is a female culture that is moving forward by making society more humanitarian and less male oriented. Women infuse a more a compassionate and supportive role in relationships. Men tend to be a more business or task oriented. This transition has been going on for years, of course, but should reach a turning point as women surpass men as the primary household breadwinners.

Expect some male resistance to this re-balancing of leadership. Men have a long history of feeling dominant over women in the working world as evidenced by the existing wage gap and glass ceiling . Men have enjoyed a social culture that has rewarded them first. But, all cultures evolve based on survival needs and better social equality and understanding. This evolution is based on the practical needs of survival for the family unit.

As this male resistance occurs, women can explain that this change increases the security of the family unit financially and socially. Also, the male can now improve their relationships with their children and form a deeper bonds with increased time at home. To counter any resistance, men are more likely to enjoy domestic life with a little encouragement from you. You simply explain the benefits: no getting up early, no fighting traffic, no boss watching over you, no social pecking order to fit into, and no constant anxiety to perform better. That’s a lot of benefits just by staying home!

This natural social evolution is a win for both genders. The woman can more easily achieve her occupational and financial dreams, but still be involved at home at key times. The man will realize his deeper needs for bonding and care-taking in general and feel more connected to his family. Men will adjust and embrace this reality, albeit, slowly. I expect our relationships with our partner will improve since equality is a better balance for cooperation and stability going forward. L.. Johnson   More at: www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)http://cnsnews.com/sites/default/files/documents/DEGREES%20EARNED%20BY%20LEVEL%20AND%20SEX.pdf                                                                                                                                       Photo: UNE photos on flickr(CC by 2.0)


Do you want to know the secret of a long and happy relationship? There is an excellent study of adult development that examined people continuously for six to eight decades.  This Aging Well(1)study focused on three groups. First is sample of 268 socially advantaged Harvard grads born around 1920. The second group is 456 inner city men born around 1930. The third group is 682 middle-class intellectually gifted women born around 1910. The study involved eight initial in-depth psychiatric interviews to establish a baseline. The follow-up study involved interviews with them, their parents and teachers to get more objective information. Most of subjects were then followed continuously until they passed away.

I won’t bore you with all the statistics, but the task of generativity was the best predictor of an enduring and happy marriage in old age. Generativity is basically how involved we have been as parents. We generate and raise our children with a varying degree of involvement. The top four traits from the study for a long and happy marriage are generativity, commitment, tolerance and humor.

Generativity is a measure of our caretaker abilities extended into the adult relationship. The skills we use in child rearing certainly include dedicated care-taking, especially when children are young. We make a long-term commitment to our children as a matter of course, and we all know how much tolerance we need when they become adolescents. Humor is a good coping mechanism that helps relieve stress and lighten the intensity of the situation.

Good care-taking starts with an attitude of embracing the importance of relationships in general. Those who had a positive and supportive role model from their parents tend to emulate those behaviors when they become parents. But, those who did not develop basic trust with their primary caretaker tend not to be good caretakers themselves.

Relationship skills learned in childhood are usually transferred to marriage and other emotional relationships as well. The study may suggest that if your partner was not involved with child-rearing, did not bond in childhood, or is not involved in a care-taking role at work, he may not be involved with the care-taking demands of your relationship going forward.

If you do have a partner who wavers on these skills and you want to keep the relationship intact, you might consider adding care-taker development goals. These skills can be learned, of course, as long as there is motivation. If you are single and content to stay that way, you probably want your most reliable friends to have these skills.               

L.  Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1) Vaillant, G. “Aging Well” New York: Little, Brown & Co. 2002. p.113, 123.

Men are Risky, Study Confirms

Men are Risky, Study Confirms

The British Medical Journal(BMJ) has released a historical study that shows men are far more likely to engage in senseless high risk behaviors than women(1). They start out looking at the cause of past admissions to emergency rooms for the males. “Males are more likely to be admitted to an emergency department after accidental injuries, more likely to be admitted with a sporting injury, and more likely to be in a road traffic collision with a higher mortality rate.” These historical figures place male risk taking much higher than the females, suggesting the trait is inherited.

The authors discuss the possibility that these behaviors might be determined by social or cultural differences. But, since they noted that high risk behaviors of males are reported at an early age, they conclude that this may be genetic in origin. They site many studies to confirm this. However, they don’t discuss the differences within the males. I think that age and socioeconomic status might have some influence since poverty may be correlated with higher risk taking.

Their definition of idiotic risks are really senseless risks, “…where the apparent payoff is negligible or non-existent, and the outcome is often extremely negative and often final”. They also bring up something called “male idiot theory” based on the “the observation that men are idiots and idiots do stupid things “. They also note that alcohol consumption tends to exasperate this tendency in men.

Going to war certainly seems like an acceptable high risk endeavor with dire consequences. This is especially appealing to young men. One of the main reasons for this is young men are establishing their masculine identity or manhood. This group has an identity of toughness or strength rather than one of intelligence and caring. So, these other traits might help distinguish which group of men are more likely to take on higher risks.

In their discussion, the authors are at a loss to explain this difference between men and women. Besides forming a cultural masculine identity, I personally think the person is looking for purpose and meaning in their life.  As men age, the risky behavior tends to wane, but still remains. Going into retirement, some men find great boredom and re-emerge as risk takers with their money. This is another point in life where your purposes is undefined. Some men I know risk their life savings in an attempt to feel more engaged. As an ex-stockbroker, I’ve seen retired men lose over a million dollars in the market and return to prior employment to survive.

In conclusion, dangerous risk taking appears to peak as a teenager, but is often seen in the 20s as well. This is correlated with brain development that lessens over time. However, some people have greater risky traits throughout life. One solution is to become deeply engaged and busy with your life goals.  In retirement, if you’ve been intensely involved in a prior work environment, you need to carry this intensity into your next phase.  Without this involvement, boredom and anxiety occur leading to damaging risky behaviors to alleviate it. Everyone needs an engaging future plan to look forward to–be sure you have one.

L. Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)BMJ 2014;349:g7094 Retrieved from: http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g7094 on 12-13-14.

Managing Anger in Relationships

Managing Anger in Relationships

The stress and demands of relationships can often be frustrating. This can result in anger and conflict in your primary relationship. Cooling Red Hot Relationships by Kirkland and Lindstrom, both psychologists, addresses this issue. Managing anger in relationships can save your marriage or can become a nagging issue until resolved.

The book goes into depth identifying the sources that appear as anger. This can be the need to control, impatience, being judgmental, demanding, possessiveness or being a perfectionist. Most important, most of us, “Manage anger through the way we think about ourselves, our mate and the world we live in.” According to this theory, only we can make ourselves angry by the way we react to others. It is often irrational thinking that we use to set ourselves up to over react. So, various exercises are presented as a way to become more aware of our anger history, how we think, and what triggers it now.

In terms of solutions, you will be requested to keep an anger log for a couple of weeks to identify any patterns. This really increases self-awareness and allows for more self-control. Once you understand the source of your anger, you can determine if it’s rational to feel that way and to find other outlets. The book offers anger management techniques like time outs, deep breathing, exercise, and meditation. But, it goes way beyond that into a deeper personal understanding. For example, we may need to understand our expectations to accept imperfect people rather get angry. Or we may need to reset our irrational thoughts of how we expect to be treated. This excellent self-help book presents a day-by-day intervention plan, homework exercises, and even suggestions on how to approach your partner.                       L.J.

More at:    www.creativeretirementforwomen.com