Q: Yikes! I think my husband and I have too much time on our hands.
Since we both retired in 2012 at age 67, it seems all we do is fight, although I usually calm down faster than he does. Sometimes I think we should have kept working, but my mother and his father needed more help. My father-in-law has since passed away and now my husband is really at loose ends. Any suggestions?
A: Retirement can be a challenge for some couples. But you have at least one thing going for you. A new study of middle-aged and older couples conducted at University of California, Berkeley has found that, when it comes to keeping the peace, it's more important for wives than for husbands to calm down after a heated argument. Time and again they found that marriages in which wives quickly calmed down during disputes were ultimately shown to be the happiest, both in the short and long run.
While both spouses were equally able to cool down during conflicts, the husbands' emotional regulation had little or no bearing on long-term marital satisfaction, according to the study's findings published online in the journal "Emotion."
"When it comes to managing negative emotion during conflict, wives really matter," said psychologist Lian Bloch, lead author of the study, which she conducted during doctoral and postdoctoral studies at Berkeley and Stanford.
"Emotions such as anger and contempt can seem very threatening for couples. But our study suggests that if spouses, especially wives, are able to calm themselves, their marriages can continue to thrive," Bloch said.
"When wives discuss problems and suggest solutions, it helps couples deal with conflicts," said Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson, senior author of the study. Here's one possible solution that might appeal to your husband and you: part-time caregiving. It sounds as though you have had plenty of experience with your parents.
The Home Instead Senior Care network has found that some of the best CAREGiversSM are seniors, who can relate well to older adults and understand their needs.
Caregiving provides a wonderful part-time career for many people like you and your husband both men and women are in demand.
Contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office to learn more.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact Joe DeLauter at 866-522-6533 or go to HomeInstead.com. For more about the study, visit newscenter.berkeley.edu/2013/11/04/marriage-peacekeepers/.
DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg, which serves Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Lycoming, Clinton, Montour and Columbia counties.