If asked to describe your spouse what words would you chose? Trustful, faithful, funny, sexy, understanding...can you put in words what makes a good marriage? Maybe the best answer is one like Supreme Court Justice Potter Seward gave when asked to describe pornography he said, “I know it when I see it.”  
When I was a new teacher in a public high school in the 1969-70 school year, I took a job as a cashier during the Christmas holiday at a liquor store. One day two seniors came to the register, each with a basket full of booze. Not sure whether they should be rung up separately or as one purchase I asked, “Are you two together.” Without a moment’s hesitation the woman replied, “24 hours a day.” Thus was I introduced to what retirement really means on a daily basis.  

Recent efforts by some elements in our society to suggest that genders are a social construction would have you believe that there are no differences between men and women. To that I say, baloney. There are two genders, male and female and, you don’t get to choose which you would rather be, birth decides. Period.  
Our society has been under pressure by so called “social justice warriors” to revise our views on marriage, suggesting that same sex marriage is normal human behavior. Nope, no sale with that one either. Whatever your belief system is, whether you believe in God as laid out in the Bible, or some other deity, my belief is we were made either male or female and we are meant to commit to the opposite gender. There is only one way the human race can be perpetuated, to suggest otherwise is just silly. Preservation of the race is both necessary and inherent, we were born with the need to do our part to continue the human race. As far as human motivations go, preservation of the species is second only to self-preservation.  
Marriage is not easy, in my experience one has to pay attention to it to achieve even a modicum of joy and pleasure. Remember the joke about a man in divorce court confronted by his wife who tells the Judge, “He never says he loves me.” The Judge asks the man, “Is that true.” The man replies, “I told her I loved her when we got married and if I ever changed my mind I would let her know.”  
February has Valentine’s Day, an occasion to take note of your loved one, that special person who adds to the quality of your life. My parents were married on Valentine’s Day, which tells you a lot about my Father; he was a hopeless romantic, a sentimentalist to the core… they were married 54 years. I hope you have that person that enhances your life and that you know how to express how grateful you are about your good fortune to have a life partner.
When one retires from work, the challenges of life change. You don’t have to get out of bed to go to work, you don’t have to worry about work and hopefully your stress level drops significantly. As we saw with the couple buying alcohol products, you will have to restructure how you use your time and how you cope with life’s challenges.  
If you are lucky you have a spouse who you really do enjoy being around. If that is not the case, you will not be able to kid yourself about how you really feel. My wife still laughs at my jokes, in fact, we laugh a lot... we are able to find humor in life on the same subjects. Laughing is therapeutic, it’s literally good for you to laugh; in myriad ways laughter has a positive impact on your body and mind.  
Then there is trust, which can neither be ignored nor faked; you simply must have trust to be in a successful marriage. After years of being in a partnership that works, you must have developed trust on all levels.  
Retirement means you have the leisure time you never had when working. How you decide to use that time is important. If you are able to identify activities that both you and your spouse enjoy, then retirement adds to your quality of life.  
Life challenges all of us and finding a purpose and developing a plan for a life well-
lived is the ultimate success. May retirement find you happy, healthy and comfortable.
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David W. Thompson worked in government, education and the non-profit sector for more than forty years. A graduate of Westminster College and Harvard University, he resides in Easley, SC. You can follow him on his blog, Smokealarms2015.com.

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