Skip to main content

This resource is brought to you by Thrive as part of a published resource called Retirement from Pastoral Ministry: Guidance for a Healthy Transition.

We have brought up the subject of your relationship with your spouse a few times along the way in this resource, but it’s a good time now to raise a few specific ideas for you to think about.

If you are married, then this new season will bring changes to your spouse’s life as well as yours. Try to understand, through conversation with one another, how those changes are having an impact on each of you. There will be differences between the two of you. There will be similarities. You’ll observe both in the ways that you relate to one another, in how you want to spend time together and apart from one another, and in how you now connect to those outside your relationship. 

How is your spouse experiencing the conclusion of your role as a full time pastor and your new role as a person without full time employment? How is your spouse experiencing any of the changes that the new reality means for him or her? Does your spouse experience you as hoping that he or she will fill holes that your job had previously filled? Are there any physical limitations that have come with age that you must learn to live with together? 

Consider with one another how your retirement affects your children and grandchildren. Perhaps your house is now smaller, and you can no longer accommodate children with families. Perhaps distances between you and them have become longer or shorter. All these changes bring along their own relational dynamics, and need your attention.

Talk about all of these things together, even more than you think is necessary. Talk about the changes themselves and about how each of you experience the changes. In this new season you will each be a larger feature in one another’s lives than ever before. Name that reality for one another too, and ask each other often how you are experiencing that. 

By the way, you will have new opportunities to experience something we described in an earlier blog: Intimacy and reciprocity with one another. Hopefully, you’ll have held one another intimately and reciprocally all along, but retirement will provide you with more time, energy, and opportunity to do that. 

If you struggle to understand what that means, if you struggle to live that out in any way, or if you find that you can’t easily give yourself to your spouse freely rather than out of compulsion, guilt, or the need to be needed then find someone who can help you with this– a marriage counselor, therapist, or spiritual director. In fact, you might want to do this even if you don’t sense that there are any “issues” to take care of. There is so much to learn together, and you could gain from the perspective of a trained observer.

Of course, if this new chapter is rolling through both of you and leading you to new joy and a sense of adventure together then thank God together for that great blessing even while you are connecting with outside resources that will help you learn your way through. Once again, God is proving Himself to be faithful to you in all of the seasons of life. Count on Him to continue providing for, loving, and cherishing both of you.

NOTE: This article comes out of a study of ministry transitions, done by members of the Thrive staff of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. The studied transitions include the transition from later career into retirement. The guidance here is part of a larger retirement resource that updates a 2006 resource called "Closing Well — Continuing Strong." The full updated resource, now titled “Retirement from Pastoral Ministry: Guidance for a Healthy Transition,” can be found here on the Thrive website.

Let's Discuss

We love your comments! Thank you for helping us uphold the Community Guidelines to make this an encouraging and respectful community for everyone.

Login or Register to Comment

We want to hear from you.

Connect to The Network and add your own question, blog, resource, or job.

Add Your Post