About 12 months ago, I left my job in corporate America to launch my own company. My husband retired four years ago and thought I would be joining him in retirement. However, he also knew I planned to start my own business. He’s a wonderful, tireless supporter of my new venture. However, he laments how much time it takes away from our being “retired” and doing things together as a couple. I completely understand his concerns and do my best to balance the time we spend together with the time that’s necessary to grow a fledgling company. Both of us turned 60 last year, are happily married (25 years, with a commitment for another 25), and love each other dearly. He’s worked hard all his life and now enjoys tending our garden and puttering around the house. At the same time, I love the challenge of launching a start-up. How can we better navigate the differences in our approaches to this amazing time in our lives?
Concerned in Concord, MA
Thank you for your thoughtful letter. You sound like a perfectly darling couple. As happens so often, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you’re not alone. Thousands of couples who are 50-and-beyond are grappling with similar situations, coming up with creative solutions, and taking their relationships to a new level. The bad news is that many others choose to deny the existence of a problem and avoid communicating about this new phase in their lives. In fact, I suspect the latter dilemma has contributed to the precipitous rise in “gray divorces,” or divorces taking place in the second half of life.
Without knowing the precise nature of your discussions as a couple, it’s difficult to know where to begin. However, as someone who’s overcome a similar relationship challenge, I can offer one possible solution for your consideration. Drawing upon the vast knowledge you’ve undoubtedly accumulated about the art of diplomacy, assist Mr. Concerned in exploring meaningful, purposeful, fun things to do with his time, about which he can feel equally passionate. In a word, help the man “get a great hobby.” If nothing else, your combined efforts will result in countless hours of laughter and conversation as he learns to navigate his new pursuit. (Important note: Remember to laugh with him, not at him. Otherwise the outcome could be disastrous.)
The reason I’m suggesting this possible solution is that it seems to be working splendidly for Mr. Newheart and me. This past year, with artful prompting from yours truly, Mr. Newheart decided to explore drone photography as a new interest. Given his considerable professional experience in the consumer electronics industry and his life-long love of photography, the pairing seemed to offer much potential. In fact, we’re now the proud owners of not one, but two respectable camera drones—thanks to an early mishap involving a beautifully executed nose dive into the middle of a lake. (Sadly, electronic devices fail to appreciate the joys of splashing about in water.) Here’s a video taken from our first camera drone, aptly named Jacques, when Mr. Newheart attempted to fly as low as possible over water. You should have seen the sad look on his face when he returned to the house…empty handed…and reported the unfortunate accident. Priceless.
Thankfully, Mr. Newheart was wise enough to invest in drone insurance. (Yes, that’s a thing, too.) However, his challenge was retrieving the drone from the lake and returning it to the company before the insurance company would pay out in the form of a replacement drone. It took eight-plus months to find and secure the services of a professional diver to retrieve Mr. Newheart’s drone from the lake. Thankfully, he had the precise GPS coordinates logged by the drone before she went down. The cover photo for today’s post captures the moment Linas Reed, our expert diver, surfaced with drone in hand following an arduous, 45-minute search-and-rescue mission. Shockingly, the video card worked like a charm after eight months of submersion. That’s why your darling GiGi can share the crash video with you now. Clearly the reunion was happy and joyous for all.
Undaunted by the tragic event—and to ensure that Mr. Newheart would “stay the course” while searching for a competent diver–I encouraged him to purchase a second drone. Happily his hard-earned reward for endless hours of practice emerged during a Scotland trip celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Not only had Mr. Newheart polished his piloting skills, but he captured magnificent aerial footage everywhere we visited, including three ancient castles, one sleepy seaside village, and a breathtakingly beautiful loch in Northern Scotland. This was no small fete, given the intricacies of successfully piloting a drone and the meticulous research that he conducted about Scottish laws and regulations governing the use of drones in the country. Only once did we come close to being arrested and summarily deported during our lovely, 10-day visit. Thankfully Mr. Newheart was able to cite Scottish law to the frantic docent, despite her unhappiness about the entire event. Then he swiftly executed a flawless landing. But, I digress…. Here’s a glorious montage of treasured video images from Scotland to show you how far Mr. Newheart has come as a drone photographer.
In short, if the love of your life is open to pursuing a new hobby, then your encouragement and support will be well worth the reward. Please accept my best wishes and keep me abreast of your ongoing negotiations. As always, I am