Last week I wrote about the reluctant spouse. One party in a household sees a need to downsize, the other does not. The inability to agree causes great friction and pain in the relationship.
If you are the spouse who sees a need to downsize, what can you do?
I will start with the bad news first. There are situations that do not resolve themselves. There are times when the spouse who refuses to make a change never moves off their insistence on staying in place. In this case one of two things happen: the reluctant spouse dies in the home leaving the clearing, selling, and downsizing to others OR a crisis forces the move. In other words, when Mr. Collins refuses to make the decision, the decision is made for Mr. Collins in the form of a crisis: medical, financial, or relationship. Or the decision is made by death which forces only the decision about moving, it doesn’t solve the myriad of decisions that go along with downsizing. Those decisions are left to someone else.
The first recommendation I make is to identify the resistance points that keep your spouse from taking steps toward this needed transition. Don’t minimize or dismiss the concerns, but rather look for creative solutions. Let’s look back at the list from last week’s Blog:
- The “I can do it.” excuse. What are the tasks that he or she can “still do?” Mowing? Snow shoveling, cleaning gutters or toilets? Is it really that these chores are what he or she enjoys doing or is it an inability to admit that the efforts are getting more difficult or even dangerous? What would your spouse enjoy doing instead of these things? Rather than couch the question in an assumption of inability: “You can’t do that anymore! It’s too dangerous!” Change the assumption: “Instead of spending time cleaning gutters, would you rather golf?” Putting home maintenance and chores behind you clears more time for the “want-to-do’s, hobbies, and valued relationships.
- Fear of giving up independence. This is a close cousin to the “I can do it” excuse. In a culture where independence is prized and needing help is described as “a burden” this is a reasonable fear. What does your loved one fear losing control of? Take a good look at residential downsizing options. A close examination of living options will allow you to see that it is not necessary to give up independence to gain safety and ease of living. A smaller, ranch-style single family home, condo or patio home gives you complete independence in an environment where the tasks most associated with safety risks or physical challenge are eliminated. Most retirement communities have “Independent Living” options which give you complete autonomy of lifestyle while assisting with chores and daily needs. For many, this kind of assistance is welcome.
Next week’s blog will look at how to combat more resistance points in a non-combative way. Remember, there comes a point in life and aging where if you don’t make the decision, the decision is made for you.
This blog is written by Kathy Chiero. Kathy is the Team Lead for The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus Realtors. Thinking of Buying or Selling? Find us www.OurOhioHome.com